The month of February holds many important dates and holidays. February includes Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl and President’s Day, yet it is the shortest month of the year. As this month comes to an end, it is essential to remember the month’s biggest celebration: Black History Month. What started as a week in 1926 expanded into a month-long celebration 50 years later. Even today, people across the world use February to educate others while promoting and celebrating Black history.
“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history,” Black History Month founder and historian Carter Woodson once said. “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate and religious prejudice.”
Now, with a few days left in the month, it is crucial for us to continue celebrating Black history every day. It is important that we hold ourselves accountable, remain aware of today’s Black issues and uphold our local Black communities. As an American citizen, Black history is an integral part of this country’s making. The spirit of this special month should be upheld throughout the years to come.
There are many ways to continue the celebration and recognition of the talent, intelligence and perspectives that the Black community has introduced to the world. Here are a few tips on how you can keep the celebration alive:
1. DON’T DENY THE HISTORY. EVER.
Everyone is taught about Black History Month and other topics surrounding the Black community. We know that it is a part of our history, whether it is taught to us correctly or not. The idea of simply forgetting parts of history that took place everywhere — not just in America — is stopping society from moving forward. We can talk about other aspects of history that have negative connotations, but because Black issues are still taking place, we are prone to turn a blind eye to reality.
There are many ways to become caught up in this mindset, but the truth of the matter is that gaining a larger understanding of Black history enables you to have greater respect for Black people and communities. This larger understanding creates a radar that allows us to recognize incorrect statements and conceptualize how incorrectness advances falsehoods throughout Black history.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF.
Nowadays, it is so easy to look something up online and have access to any information within seconds. We have so many resources to use how we want and yet, we don’t fully utilize this capability. I’m guilty of this and I’m sure many other people are too. However, by continuing to inform ourselves and others about Black history, American history that is commonly denied, we can be one step closer to celebrating Black history all the time.
We can also work on this by not only understanding but resonating with the significance of Black inventions and contributions to society. We must acknowledge why we were never accredited for these contributions. There are so many amazing films, books and stories like Hidden Figures and Judas and the Black Messiah that we can read and watch. These creations allow us to expand our minds on various critical issues in our society.
3. DON”T JUST LEARN IT, COMPREHEND IT.
It’s really easy to go watch a movie or read a book about Black history and figures, but until you actually conceptualize and process the jarring issues depicted within, you are not truly learning anything. Beginning to learn and educate yourself can seem scary and intimidating. No one wants to take the first move on a topic that’s so taboo. School is the best way to learn and Mizzou’s Black Studies Department offers many courses and events that push students to ask questions and understand what they are learning.
4. QUESTION THE SYSTEM.
Never a day goes by when I am not questioning something. You should always be questioning something and if you’re not, begin here. Why has our nation functioned this way for as long as it has and how has its perpetual structure affected anyone who isn’t white? How have various American institutions, including the prison system, public school system, healthcare system and capitalism aided the prison industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline? If these questions don’t resonate with you, that’s an issue. Make them resonate.
5. SUPPORT BLACK-OWNED EVERYTHING.
In and around Columbia, Mo., there are so many ways to support local Black businesses. It can be as simple as changing where you grab your coffee in the morning, pick up certain groceries or even buy your clothing. All it takes is swapping just one major corporation you consume for a Black-owned business instead. That’s the point. Buy and support Black and understand that your support doesn’t stop in Columbia. Check out local shops back home and whenever you travel somewhere new!
As we continue through the years, it is important to stay educated and speak up when something seems unclear. Ask the hard questions; staying silent puts the brakes on societal progress. It is up to each and every person to remain personally accountable while supporting BIPOC communities and lives.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
Black history is every day. Each day, week, month and year needs to celebrate Black History. February’s dedication to focus on Black history cannot remain in the month. Find the best ways you can support Black communities today, tomorrow and each day after that.