Ola Joseph once said, “Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness”. This month is Black History Month, a month of respect, learning, understanding, and education. We have this beautiful opportunity to learn about the history of black people, some painful and some beautiful. Not only does it remind us of the country’s treatment of black people, but it also remembers the journey of strength and change. Over the past couple of months, our country has shown that change is possible through unity and determination. Here are some ways you can celebrate black history this month:
1. Support a black business.
The origins of today’s wealth gap amongst races are because of job discrimination back in the Jim Crow era. This segregated African Americans and prevented them from having the same opportunities as white people even if they were qualified. Another reason is that communities rise up along with their businesses. By supporting black businesses, you are also supporting their communities and their values. Here is a list of black-owned businesses in Phoenix to support: https://www.visitphoenix.com/blog/post/black-owned-businesses/
2. Read a book by a black author.
Without black authors, a lot of the famous and beautiful literature published would not exist today. Words can truly create change and unity, and we can’t take that for granted. Some of the best books written by black authors include Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, Here We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. There are also awe-inspiring books out there surrounding the topic of racism, social justice, and racial inequality. Here is a list of books about anti-racism:
- Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
- Heavy by Kiese Laymon
3. Call out racism and prejudice in your community.
As a part of your community, it is your job to stand up for others and identify the aspects and parts of the existing community that are not inclusive and not kind. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” If you see acts of racism, exclusion, and xenophobia in environments and areas around you, it is important to speak out and show that those actions are wrong. Even though it may be daunting sometimes to do the right thing, we must include everyone and show love to the people around us, even those who are different from us. This includes respecting other cultures, customs, and values that are different from yours.
4. Support a black creative.
Black art matters, and it should be valued more often. The talent of black people are often neglected and forgotten, and this should not be happening. To celebrate Black History Month, check out these amazing and talented black creatives near you: https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/8-black-artists-to-know-in-arizona-11474485
5. Listen and/or read to speeches by black leaders.
It is so important to reflect and learn from history. Simply acknowledging that the pain and the suffering exists is not enough, you must use it to better yourself and your community. Some of the best speeches include “Ar’nt I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” by Frederick Douglass, and “Lynching our National Crime” by Ida B. Wells.
Black History Month only lasts a few of weeks, but we must continue educating and learning about the past for our entire life. Just because something has stopped and does not occur anymore does not mean inequality does not exist. We have to stay open-minded and reach out to those who are being oppressed. That not only makes you a better friend, neighbor, and family member but a better person. Go Knights!