It's not easy being black. It's not easy being brown. I hate to open up this post with the obvious; but let me tell you what's not obvious. It's EASY to go day to day in February and let Black History Month (BHM) slip through your fingers and slide right by. It's EASY to get distracted by the Grammy's, the Oscars, and any other award show during award season, conveniently placed in February. It's EASY to get lost in doing what most do during this month, i.e. look at a Black History Month Fact of the day, try and support at least one black business this month, etc. These are all viable options, but allow me to introduce you to other options to commemorate your history, American history, world history, after the Month has gone.
1. Fill Your Mind with Us
Growing up, I remember my watching Ren and Stimpy, or some other raunchy children's programming, interrupted by my mother urging me to read the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass or Jackie Robinson, or to read a book filled with stories of black and brown individuals, like Sojourner Truth or Barbara Jordan. Although perplexed at the time as to why this task seemed to weigh so heavily with my mother, I am grateful for that task. Since most prefer not to read now-a-days, especially after a long day of reading on a computer at work, I won't even go down the route of recommending a book, no matter the amount of "wokeness" in its pages. But another way to fill that noggin with the negro history is to watch a documentary; you can acquire so much knowledge in such a short amount of time, and with no more effort than to just sit back and relax. Below are some documentaries that I watched this past month, and that I recommend going forward into the months after BHM.
The Black Power Mixtape: A documentary about the black struggle during the late 1960's and 1970's told from the perspective of people "green" to the ways of America. Even through their limited vision, they could clearly make out the cruelty of favoritism and segregation that plagued that era. You can catch the wisdom spread by Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Harry Belafonte, the infamous Angela Davis, and so many other influential figures of our culture either on Netflix, or here on YouTube.
In Search of History: Black Wall Street: Hear about what truly incited the riots, historic accounts from the mouths of survivors, and the aftermath. Stray away from "alternative facts": Learn about one of the only charities who offered help (the American Red Cross), and one that we should continue to support, given its history of truly unconditional charity. You can find a great documentary of the story here on YouTube.
Masters Of Invention: A Documentary on The History of Black Inventions": Cell phones, elevators, engines, and more.
Yes, WE did that. Learn about black inventors here on YouTube.
13th: Ava Duvernay tells us about modern day slavery, the incarceration system in America. You can catch it on Netflix, here.
2. Rep with Us
Recently, BuzzFeed released a blog entitled, "21 Black Owned Clothing And Accessories Brands You Need To Be Following." What better way to represent year-round that your people are intelligent, capable, and magical than by wearing it on your chest/back. I'm probably biased as a fashionista, but I certainly can't think of a better alternative. Catch all the reasons to spend the mula you may, or may not, have here. Huge shout out to BuzzFeed for always supporting the cause!
3. Silence You Cries... Speak The Truth with Us
Author and teacher Valencia Clay has released, "Soundless Cries Don't Lead to Healing: A Critical Thinking Guide to Cultural Consciousness." This guide explores how personal experiences have shaped their perceptions of others, and through exercises for self-reflection, allows one to practice ways to engage in productive and unbiased discourse about the social injustices of today.
You're more likely to cause effective change by engaging in constructive dialogue with our political and social adversaries, rather than furthering the national divide by deleting/blocking your friends from Facebook. In other words, "You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar," as my illustrious mother would put it. So look into this book to see how. I have been working through my copy and have already found different ways to approaching others. You can find a link to buy your copy here. Please consider purchasing and working through this book; I cannot express this enough.
It is going to be beyond pertinent moving past BHM that we know how to converse with others about issues so that we can ignite change!
4. Break Bread with Us
My personal favorite black business to support is one that serves BOMB food! Search your city for black owned restaurants and find a new spot for cajun eats, soul food, or another cuisine. I certainly can't think of a more exciting reason to celebrate black history after BHM, can you?Click on any of the names below for some of my favorites/must-try Black owned restaurants in Houston.
Click here for more black owned restaurants in Houston!
5. Believe with Us
Watch the NAACP Image awards... again. Watch the phenomenal speeches by Denzel, Taraji, and more. Set their success in your mind, and use those images to power you past BHM. Believe in our success. Catch some of the clips from the show, here. And make sure to continue to support the award shows and programs that continue to celebrate black and brown individuals breaking barriers in entertainment, like the BET Awards and Black Girl Magic.
So there you have it. Don't just leave Black History Month by simply waking up on March 1st. Exit it with knowledge, exit it with style, exit it with a full belly and with the pride to continue celebrating our beauty and to push the agenda for social and political change. Let me know here or on my social media if you have or plan to try any of these!