US Black History Month is Coming. Here's How to Celebrate.
2020 has been quite the year for the Black community worldwide, but particularly in the US, between police brutality, racial injustice and a (now departed) President that mocks Black pain.
But there are still beautiful things to celebrate, as is the point of Black History Month, which runs every February in America. Did you know that it started in 1915 to celebrate African American achievements? And the list of achievements is long.
If you wish to celebrate Black History Month this year, even virtually as face-to-face events are currently on hold, you may be wondering how to proceed.
First and foremost, if you're looking for a guest speaker to do a keynote or participate in a panel discussion this coming Black History Month make sure that you hire a Black expert to speak on this. And make sure you commit to paying them for their labour. Make sure you don't make empty promises or vague enquiries that could waste people's time.
As Jess Mally and Marvyn Harrison's agency BELOVD stated in their 2020 Black History Month blog post, "Black History Month is a great starting point to let your employees and customers know, what it is you are setting out to do to contribute to change in your business and industry. But rather than making promises you can’t keep it is important to assess, what it is your business actually can do and how you will do it. "
Also, make sure to hire outside of your own organisation, as this is not your Black employees' responsibility to host Black History Month events: "Whilst this is not a new phenomenon, the recent rise in awareness around racial injustice and the need for systemic change across all industries, has led to many employers looking for answers within their own teams. This is problematic for a couple of reasons: firstly, not all Black people are willing (and shouldn’t have to be) to bear the brunt of this work. Chairing a D&I board, representing the Black staff and working to bring change is not only laborious but can take an immense toll on Black people’s mental health." BELOVD also states on their blog.
"The other challenge is, that often those who are deeply embedded in an organisation can themselves have blind spots when it comes to the change that needs to happen, as well as the fact that challenging internal processes and structures is always a lot harder when those you challenge are the ones paying your salary. Lastly, more often than not, the employees investing time and energy into this work aren’t sufficiently remunerated for their work, do it on top of their usual job and hardly receive the acknowledgment and support required."
No matter what, remember that February should be used with abundant amounts of joy and respect, to pay a genuine, well researched tribute to the achievements of African Americans who have shaped American history, or of the Black community within the world's history and society overall. Celebrate Black excellence, in all areas, from arts and sports to science and politics. Make sure you tell Black history right, with examples that are less cited in the mainstream media, rather than going for the same public figures celebrated each year.
It's time to shift the narrative and highlight the Black heroes of our past and for generations to come!
For enquiries about your upcoming Black History Month event and to book Jess Mally of BELOVD for a remote keynote or panel discussion, please contact us here.