Now that I have your attention, there has been much debate about whether Black History Month should be cancelled; after all, there isn’t White History Month and the like. Why Black History Month?
For so long Black History has looked and focused on where we as a people have come, from slavery, hardship and notable civil rights achievements. There isn’t anything wrong with this, in fact this is good because a good understanding of one’s history can help map out the future – but it can be better.
We need to do more than celebrate the past but also work towards the future. Many of us limit black history to just one month in the year as if that one month can really do our heritage justice.
Black history should not just be limited to one month, and if we are not willing to celebrate it all year round, then we should just stop celebrating black history full stop.
So, should you throw an event every month in honour of black history? No, Not really! However, there a few simple things you can do all through the year that will aid and celebrate black history.
Here are four things you can do; this is by no means an exhaustive list:
- Promote positive images of black people
It’s amazing how many negative images are out there of black people. In fact the word ‘black’ is becoming synonymous with any and everything negative. Think about it, blackmail, blacklist, black market, black cat, black eye and the list goes on. It seems like everything in the English language has made ‘Black’ a bad thing.
Subconsciously, we are gradually being told that anything black is bad or inferior, even black people.
It’s getting so bad that even black people don’t want to associate with other black people because of the negative expressions. Many even bleach their skin, change their name or move neighbourhoods just to try run away from the natural beauty they have inherited.
So how can you promote positive black images? Well, for starters stop promoting negative images like ‘World Star Hip Hop’ that glorifies black people fighting in the streets or rap music that glorifies shootings, feuds and uncontrollable sexual escapades. Start looking for and start promoting black people doing great things in academics, career, business, family life, and so on. For example, celebrate the fathers and husbands that are there for their respective families and not the sperm donor (father) that ran away or is incarcerated.
- Support black businesses
You cannot deny that economic empowerment is vital to the longevity and posterity of a people.
Black people can never solve their economic problems while sending all of their money outside their community as fast as they earn it. If our communities continue to lack then we as a people will continue to be slaves economically to others. This laudable idea is why you and I need to support black businesses so that they can thrive and ultimately empower our community because the profits from your spending will help the community.
When you patronise black businesses, indirectly you become an employer of labour as it creates jobs for black people so you don’t have to picket from them.
- Be a black person to be admired
It’s not enough to promote positive images of others or celebrate others. You need to be a role model in your own generation like Martin Luther King who had a dream, Ian Wright the sports icon, Rosa Parks who would not get up because of what she believed in, Diane Abbott, first female black MP in the United Kingdom, Paul Cuffe, successful 18th century sea captain and businessman.
When you become a person to be admired, one day the future will celebrate you. The question is will your name be included in history?
- Inspire young black people
Our history will remain stories told if there’s no evidence of its practical application in our present everyday lives.
The youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow, they say; unless young people are inspired to achieve and be more, then we will soon have major problems and history will not forgive us.
Inspire young people with your life, not by sharing videos of you and your friends ‘twerking’. Inspire young people that they can be black and beautiful without being nude/provocative. Inspire young people that they can communicate without being vulgar or engage the use of profanity.
Celebrating black history starts with celebrating black history month but it shouldn’t end there; we should celebrate black history all year round. Make a decision to not just celebrate the month but the heritage.
Felix Makanjuola Jr is an entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, best-selling author and life coach. Felix is appointed on various boards as trustee, CEO and member of non-governmental organisations and companies. He has a passion for empowering people to be the very best, when he’s not teaching, Felix enjoys writing and singing at his local church and he fancies himself a poet. For more information about Felix visit www.felixmakjr.com.