A reminder of why Black lives matter
February offers an opportunity to honor, learn and re-learn about the achievements, accomplishments, and contributions of Black Americans. Daily posts with stories and little- known facts create awareness and better understanding of the importance of a group of people who were omitted from the history of the United States of America. Honoring the contributions of Black inventors, artists, educators, researchers, athletes, writers, entertainers and “changemakers” instills great pride in Black communities while educating those in other communities where such stories were rarely shared. I always think of February as a time for recovering—and re-covering—a history but also as a time to consider applying what is learned this month in ongoing daily actions and interactions.
Yes, February can be a time to learn beyond the shared stories. Black history month can also be a time to prioritize a commitment to do more to value and honor those in Black communities today, people who still struggle with the same systems of racial discrimination, disparities, inequities and social injustice that omitted them from the story told in this country.
“Honoring Black History” can occur every month when it includes valuing Black lives and communicating that worth in everyday actions, large and small. This is the call of the Black Lives Matter movement—a recognition of the value of a human life. Omission from the narrative of a history of a country sends a powerful message that communicates who matters and who does not. That narrative shapes the interaction between those who live in that country. Just as February centers the historical contributions of Black Americans—the Black Lives Matter movement centers value, worth and recognition across contemporary interpersonal interactions and public policies. This is an honoring that can occur every month in many ways.
Consider what honoring looks like in children’s books with main characters who are Black and have skin tones and hair textures that look like the ones Black children share and see in their families and communities. It is a message that says to them, “you matter”. To see someone who “looks like me” on pages and in other forms of media is a powerful message of a child’s value and worth. There are so many books now that send that message and they are available all year long!
For those who have a hard time understanding the reasons to honor Black lives daily, with more intention, in the Black Lives Matter movement—remember what you have learned in Black History Month. What was not included in history books and stories shared was a result of centuries of Black lives in the U.S being not just omitted but devalued. May Black History Month 2021 be the year to extend the honoring of Black lives by committing to actions—large and small—that center value, worth and humanity throughout the entire year.