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  • Writer's pictureArchuleta A. Chisolm

What We're Not Doing For Black History Month



Mlive.com

Hands down, February is the Blackest month of the year. Yes, it is also the shortest month of the year. It’s Black History Month and mainstream America gets all of their Black agenda items checked off during these four short weeks.

 

After the murder of George Floyd, businesses declared themselves to stand for racial justice. Nearly four years later, most of those promises remain unfilled. Companies failed to hold themselves accountable for a number of reasons, ranging from a disbelief in the fundamental problem of racial inequity to realities about how hard it can be to pinpoint certain inequitable behaviors.

 

The truth is, it’s never too late for companies to establish accountability by being transparent about current levels of racial representation, future goals, and progress; develop incentives for leaders to practice inclusive leadership and penalties for when they don’t meet those goals; and paying close attention to the language used to discuss equity in the workplace.

 

In the creative space, we had never seen so many Black authors making the NY Times bestseller list and Black creators taking up space in various areas. All 10 slots on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list were taken up by titles about anti-racism, most of them by Black authors. The fiction list was topped by The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, who is a Black woman.

 

Yet still, myself, as well as other writers of color I know, have had white people treat our work as though it were medicine. It’s something they have to swallow in order to improve their condition, but they don’t really want it, they don’t really enjoy it, and if they would be totally honest, they don’t actually even take the medicine half the time.

 

Some may want to call the events of June 2020 a racial reckoning, but in a country in which there was a civil war and a civil rights movement 100 years apart, at some point it would be useful to ask how long a reckoning need to take. When, if ever, will we have reckoned?

 

Teaching these things is never the responsibility of Black people, especially during February.

 

When my book When Black Women Breathe was released in 2022, it did not sit well with a lot of white women. They couldn’t accept that the book, so unapologetically and explicitly Black, was not something for them. I received emails and comments on social media about my ‘lack of inclusion.’ It’s almost laughable to consider a Black woman being accused of not being inclusive. However, I refused to give them a response or any explanation. I’m a Black woman and I don’t have to justify that existence to anyone.

 

We must remember that Black History Month exists to deliver what federal policy has not — the eradication of systemic racism. Yes, policy is important, but the state of Black America today proves severely lacks. We have Brown v. Board, and yet the racial segregation of public schools remains the norm. We have the Fair Housing Act, and racial segregation in housing has barely changed in nearly four decades. We have the Fifteenth Amendment and a Supreme Court-weakened Voting Rights Act, and yet state laws still implement measures that disproportionately affect Black voters. Black unemployment remains at twice the rate of white Americans. Black median wealth is nearly ten times less than white wealth. Black Americans are incarcerated at a rate five times that of their white counterparts. And Black health continues to be worse on nearly every front.

 

So, as a writer and content creator, this month I am not using my voice and platform to teach non-Black people about Black History. I have high expectations for those who are existing and benefiting from white privilege to DO THE WORK. And this will be done by recognizing and respecting the history of the Black community, unlearn the whitewashed understanding of the Black existence, and, most importantly, make the necessary connections to be anti-racist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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