When celebrating Black History Month, being respectful and mindful of black people’s different experiences and perspectives is important.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind:
Celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of black people throughout history.
Learn about and discuss the issues facing black people today.
Be an ally to black people in their fight for justice and equality.
Don’t appropriate black culture. This includes using black slang without understanding the context or wearing traditional African clothing as a fashion statement.
Don’t try to speak for black people. Instead, listen and learn from their experiences.
Don’t ignore or downplay the racism and discrimination that black people face daily.
Special emphasis for Black History Month needs to exist in tandem with a commitment to eradicating forms of racism and injustice that happen year-round. We must acknowledge the challenges that function as barriers to continued Black achievement, like health, economic and environmental disparities that exasperate inequalities.
Understanding the tendency for history to repeat itself is crucial, especially in how it bears relevance to something like the debate around critical race theory currently holding national and state attention. Putting what we preach during Black History Month into practice could fundamentally change how we understand and approach racial reform as a nation.
Black History Month is a time to spotlight the historical and cultural contributions of African Americans that dealt with centuries of slavery, legalized discrimination, systemic racism and interpersonal hatred and anti-Blackness. This is a time to honor how far Black Americans have come in spite of this.
Our attention this month should be only an added enthusiasm to an already vibrant sense of recognition sustained for all 12 months of the year.
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