Black History Month 2020: A New Reflection
Online Editor Ria Kalsi discusses the changing importance of Black History Month.
We are nearly halfway through Black History Month 2020. This year, the importance of the month has taken on new, deserved levels of appreciation. However, the distinction of what this month means, both independently and in conjunction with the civil rights movement, has been something at the brim of my mind.
Anti-racism should be at the forefront of our decisions and actions, every day, in every environment. We should be practicing it, being authentic allies. Though the meaning of this month – appreciation, celebration, recognition of Black History cannot be swept away with white guilt and dwindled into a reminder to ‘do better’.
Black narratives and history should not be exclusively synonymous with racism
– there’s so much more we can learn from this month. I have seen such a range of content produced but more often than not, it’s at two ends of a spectrum. Either the content is dry and performative or it’s pushing more anti-racism efforts than celebrating the history. Rather, some of the best content I have seen not only shows up for social injustice but also celebrates history. It’s about what we can learn from Black figures and history to better ourselves and continue our efforts.
At the beginning of the month, Exeter’s African-Caribbean Society held an Instagram live ‘Braid with Me’ which I watched and absolutely loved. Not only was it informative of the history, the discussion of cultural appropriation between Georgia, Zarah and Hiba was incredibly personal and revealing and gave me a new perspective into the topic. (The energy the girls had in the live was also amazing and I’d recommend people to watch it here.)
As allies, we need to keep working on finding that balance between appreciating Black history, heritage and culture as it’s own beautiful thing whilst recognising where that stands as in conjunction with racism on every level. Recognising and appreciating the achievements of those who have been trailblazers whilst facing racism on individual to institutional levels.
celebrating Black history shouldn’t be momentary or performative
The rise of the civil rights movement this year was one of the first moments of global recognition to dismantle racism at every level and be an ally. And I think what’s key to take from this month is that, much like anti-racism, celebrating Black history shouldn’t be momentary or performative – it needs to go beyond this month. Whether it’s sharing the stories of Black history on your platforms, reading and educating white-washed history for yourself and others, broadening your intake of media or products to Black creators and owners. There’s a way to show up in the present and recognise the past.