Showing Up for Black History Month
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Long and Short of It
It's Black History Month, so today we're going to talk about how to show up.
For white folx, anti-racism work will always require examining yourself: your thinking, your underlying beliefs, your actions, your speech, as well as the larger context of where you fall in history. It is ongoing work, and it is absolutely necessary and absolutely worth it.
My top two recommendations for that work are:
For Black folx and Non-Black POC, the work of examining yourself is obviously very different. And, as a white woman, I know I'm not the person to offer guidance around what that looks like. I do know it involves a lot of self-care and community care, as it very often involves confronting trauma.
Some of my favorite recommendations for celebrating self-love and Black triumph are:
Know the History
Knowing the history of how we got here is also an important aspect of showing up. Coming to understand the motive and the steps that were taken to racialize groups of people, the policies created to uphold that power structure, and the collective actions of our societies that have followed suit is necessary for understanding the bigger picture.
Antiracism work isn't (only) about whether individual people are or are not racist; it's about being able to see the undercurrent of our collective river—that our world, for the past several hundred years, has been shaped by a philosophy of white supremacy.
My top recommendation for seeing the whole history at once is:
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Making reparations has been important to me since I began this work, but Sonya Renee Taylor takes it even further. She asserts that making reparations is a spiritual practice, and I completely agree. There are many, many different organizations and ways that you could pay reparations, and I recommend making it part of your monthly budget.
Here's one organization I love to support:
And of course, celebrate. Black History Month is a time of remembrance, reflection, action, and also celebration of Black joy, Black talent, Black innovation, Black creativity.
There are so many ways you can do this, as well, but to me one of the most fun ways is to follow and learn from Black folx who are doing the same things you love to do.
This is important, because if we, as a society, only choose to see Black folx as people who have been oppressed and disenfranchised, it is easy to slip into white savior thinking. It abdicates responsibility for self-examination and seeing the whole picture of diversity in our world. It's a way of still keeping the wall up between racialized groups.
For example, because I'm a therapist who is also a yoga teacher and a Waldorf homeschool teacher and who is into healthy eating and veganism and gardening, I follow and learn from:
Black yoga teachers
Black Waldorf homeschool teachers
Currently, I'm super excited to try out this book:
Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry
The Bold Print
Showing up for Black History Month means showing up for racial justice, antiracism, and equity for all in our country. It's not something that should be confined to one month of the year. Let Black History Month be a starting line for you if you're new to this awareness and work; or, let it be a recommitment and a time to gain clarity about where to dedicate your efforts next. It won't (and shouldn't) be easy, but it is simple:
Learn the History
With you + for you,
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