As Black History month comes to a close, The Phoenix wanted to express the importance of honouring Black History and engaging in anti-racism work all year, not only for one month—especially as white people or non-Black POC. To properly honour Black History Month and Black History all year, white people and non-Black POC need to be aware of Black history, Black stories, and listen to Black voices. As allies, we need to educate ourselves and commit to anti-racism practices daily.
Allies must fight for systemic equality and commit to anti-racism—a process that is not stagnant but continual. Instead of asking for emotional labour or education from the Black people in their lives, allies need to seek out the readily available anti-racism resources and educate themselves on the history and current reality of racism, as well as on the ongoing practice of being anti-racist. To dismantle the structures of racism, it is crucial to know how white and non-Black POC can honour Black history and resist modern racism. Educator Muna Mohamed, on Instagram as @MUNAM0H, shares five powerful ways non-Black POC can tackle anti-black racism this Black History Month and all year round,
- “Call in your anti-Black family members:
Allyship is best exercised in our spaces of influence and access, families are a great place to start. Come correct with a “let’s talk auntie” when you hear anti-Black languages and narratives at your next family dinner/gathering.”
- “Stop lumping Black people into your definition of POC.
The globality of anti-Blackness and colonial histories of displacement makes the oppression that Black people face unique. Anti-Blackness lives in all non-Black communities. Take time to learn about how it shows up in yours.”
- “You should not be consuming Black culture until you are fighting for Black liberation.
Listening to Tupac and Biggie doesn’t make you an ally. Recognize how Black culture is being appropriated by many communities of colour. Monetarily support Black artists.”
- “Donate to Black community organizing initiatives and families that have lost loved ones to state-sanctioned anti-Black violence.”
- “Read up! Search #BlackCDNSyllabus and take some time to read up on Black Canadian history.”
It is important that non-Black people of colour and white people alike honour Black history not only in February, but all the time. Muna Mohamed provides excellent examples of how to commit to anti-racism in practical and tangible ways.
Furthermore, in an article, Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez also suggests five ways white allies can honour Black History Month all year long. Fernandez states, “What if I told you that you could celebrate Black excellence and accomplishments beyond February? As a Black American, I'm happy to see white people and other people of color taking an interest in honoring the occasion. But it's disheartening to see the way our existence is overlooked during the other months of the year.” Consequently, Fernandez provides ways white allies can genuinely show up for the Black community and other marginalized communities at any time. Fernandez also links an abundance of easily accessible resources,
- “Keep learning
The best way to extend the spirit of Black History Month is by continuing to read and do research. There's no rule that you can only learn about Black historical figures and unsung heroes in February. And now, that's easier than ever. For example, there are plenty of subscription box services like Noir Reads and Call Number that deliver study guides and book club picks right to your door. If you can't afford to sign up for a monthly subscription, consider starting your own book club with books at your local library. That way you can help others keep it going, too. Check out some book suggestions here and here, and don't forget to celebrate our living heroes when you celebrate those of the past.”
- “Keep growing
One of the best ways to honor the spirit of Black History Month is by strengthening your allyship. Use this month and the rest of the year to seek out resources that allow you to be the best ally you can be. Chances are, you’ll disappoint yourself every now and then, but by regularly dedicating time to learning how you can support marginalized communities, you'll see more progress than backtracks. The White Ally Toolkit, Teaching Tolerance, and the Safety Pin Box are all great resources for stepping up your ally game. And many of the things you'll learn while studying how to be a great ally to the Black community will also apply to other marginalized groups. Check out additional tips and suggestions for being a better ally here and here.”
- “Pay it forward
People of color—particularly Black Americans—often lack the access to professional resources that white Americans typically have. You can use your own network and privilege to continue the benefits of Black History Month. If you find yourself in a position of hiring, take a moment to evaluate the demographics of who you've been bringing on board. I'm not suggesting a quota-based system, of course. Just remember that representation is crucial. If you notice Black Americans or any other marginalized groups are underrepresented on your team or at your company, consider being a mentor and helping those individuals find access to your organization. Black individuals don't lack skills; we lack networks.”
- “Diversify your support
Remember that many people have multiple marginalized identities. For example, when thinking of ways to support the Black community, don't just think of Black men. Black women face the stressors of both racism and sexism. And Black people who identify as LGBTQ often experience marginalization at the intersection of racism, homophobia, anti-trans sentiment, and other factors. As an ally, you should support organizations and initiatives that work with people with multiple marginalized identities. Follow their pages on social media, such as Center Black LGBT, the UndocuBlack Network, and Echoing Ida.”
- “See us as individuals
Black Americans are often put into the same category by historical experience, but it's important that you see us as individuals and not just members of a collective group… Sometimes the best way to help marginalized communities is to ensure they have the right to exist without always being seen as different.
One of the most important things to realize about extending Black History Month through the rest of the year is that there's no time limit to supporting the Black community (or any other marginalized group, for that matter). By spending your time doing research, using your privilege to help those in need, and making intentional decisions to fight injustice, you're playing a vital role in reducing systemic inequality.
There's no better way to honor Black History Month than that.”
It is clear that allies to the Black community must invest their time into seeking out the abundant anti-racism resources available frequently—not only for one month or when it is trendy to do so. There is no time limit on actively supporting marginalized communities. Importantly, allies must do more than simply research. They must put anti-racism work into practice in order to dismantle racism and confront it in our communities and interpersonal lives. Access additional resources here: