5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Happy Black History Month!  Although Black history IS American history, the many contributions that Black Americans have made to America often go unnoticed. Some Americans don’t want to deal with the fact that slavery existed in this country for hundreds of years, or that people continued to discriminate against Black Americans for over 100 years after that, because it’s “in the past”.  

This not only prevents people from grappling with the generational impact of slavery and discrimination, but also ends up erasing a lot of the contributions of Black Americans.  That’s why Black History Month attempts to close that gap and show everyone how integral Black Americans are to American history.  To help with that goal, I came up with a short list of things we can all do to celebrate Black History Month:

1) Learn about someone other than a “famous” Black person

Oftentimes when we talk about Black Americans, we are talking about either Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, or some professional athlete (usually Michael Jordan if we’re honest).  While those individuals undoubtedly earned and deserve the recognition, focusing only on them means we neglect Black Americans who are contributing in other ways to Art, Literature, Math, Science, Business and other fields.  Unfortunately, we also seem to disproportionately discount the achievements and contributions of Black women.

So this month, try to find a Black American that you have not heard of before, do some research on them, and write something about them.  You do not need to limit your search to people whose contributions were years ago either. Every other week, we hear about someone being the first Black person to do something.  Feel free to learn about those contemporary history makers too.

2) Read about Systemic Racism

Systemic racism is the result of the aftermath of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination against Black Americans.  Recently, Americans have been more willing than ever to find out what they can do to help end systemic racism.  To determine what can be done to end systemic racism, Luckily, there are more books, podcasts, and documentaries diving into systemic racism than ever before.  Remember, don’t just limit your research to criminal justice reform.  The thing about systemic racism, is that it’s systemic.  It affects not only the criminal justice system, but also the legal system and society as a whole.  

3) Take an Implicit Bias test

Everyone has bias.  Knowing what the biases are is the first step to trying to stop those biases from creeping into our thoughts and affecting our actions.  There are plenty of implicit bias tests out there, but here is one you can take so you can find out for yourself.

4) Support Black business

Everyday, Black Americans are starting new businesses.  What’s startling is that even though Black entrepreneurs have similar, if not better ideas than their white counterparts, Black businesses fail at a higher rate. Financially supporting Black businesses can remove one major stressor and allow them to grow, compete, and innovate in their industries.  This support can’t be a one off purchase.  There has to be sustained, consistent support to really make a difference.

5) Watch a movie/show that accurately depicts the Black Experience

Unfortunately, film and media rarely depict Black Americans in their everyday lives.  When they do, they tend to depict them using negative stereotypes that adversely affect Black people. For Black History Month, watch some movies/shows that depict the realities of navigating the world as a Black person.  There are plenty of movies/shows that do this, but here is a list to get you started

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James J. Hux is the Owner and Sole Attorney at Hux Law Firm, LLC. His practice areas include employment discrimination and general civil litigation throughout the State of Ohio.