Hi Meltingpot Readers,
It’s officially Black History Month. Back in 2010, I wrote the following post about how I think Black History Month should be celebrated. While I received a fair amount of comments and the piece was picked up by Forbes.com, my suggestions for honoring my people didn’t take off like gangbusters. And I think I know why. It’s the name. Black History Month sounds as exciting as a tax seminar. *yawn* I get it. So, let’s give Black History Month a facelift. From now on, let’s call February, Black Achievement month. No, that sounds like we’re cheering for the underdogs. How about, Black Pride month? No, that might come across as too militant to some folks who still haven’t gotten over the Black Power Movement. Okay, I got it. Let’s just call February, Black Cool Month. And all month long we will take pride in just how cool Black people are, have always been and always will be. Who’s with me?
And just because I feel it is okay to plagiarise myself, here are my original five tips to help you enjoy
Black History Black Cool Month. (updated and edited from 2010)
1. Read a book by a Black author! And I don’t mean a dry, historical tome with big words that won’t fit in your purse. I mean a really good, juicy novel or heart wrenching memoir by a Black author that seems interesting to you. It could be a romance, a comedy, or even a thriller. It just cannot be written by Toni Morrison or Alice Walker. Are you stuck because you don’t know any Black authors? That’s no problem, just go to goodreads and search Black authors.You will definitely find something you like. And if you’re too lazy to even do that, go read anything by James McBride.
2. Go out to eat at restaurant that is owned by a Black person, or has a Black executive chef. Now, before you wrinkle your nose in distaste because you don’t like collard greens, fried chicken or chitterlings, let me tell you, Black chefs don’t just make soul food anymore. They have expanded their repertoire. If you live in New York City, you could dine on lingonberries and Swedish meatballs at Red Rooster, owned by Ethiopian chef extraordinaire, Marcus Samuelsson. He’s black. Or if you live in my new home town of Philly, you could stop in for a healthy bite at Green Soul cafe, also owned by Black people. So as you’re munching on Swedish meatballs or sipping a green smoothie you can say to yourself, ‘Man, Black people really can throw down in the kitchen. I had no idea Black
History Cool month could be so tasty!’
3. Go to a movie with at least one significant Black leading character. If you live someplace where this isn’t possible because the cineplex only offers movies with White people, you can still go to the video rental store, or search on Netflix for a good movie with Black characters in it. But just to stretch people, you may not watch The Color Purple or Roots. We have moved on as a people. Want some suggestions? Okay. In no particular order; Anything by Spike Lee, but try The Miracle at St. Anna for something a little different from Spike. The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington. Ali, starring Will Smith, Akeelah and the Bee for those of you with kids, and Eve’s Bayou, directed by the very talented Kasi Lemmons. These are some of my personal favs. For more suggestions, check out, Shadow and Act.com.
4. Just for kicks, try to imagine how Black people feel about current events. Try to get into our skin and see how things may be different. Not into role playing? Well then, for the month of February, just bookmark The Root.com and read the news as it is reported by Black reporters. If you want an alternative to The Root, visit, NBC’s The Grio.com. They have lots of video on their site for those of you who don’t like to read all that much.
5. And finally, this is the big challenge but you have a whole month to try to accomplish it. Try to find a Black friend. Really, make the effort to make friends with someone who is Black and see how your life changes. (spoiler alert: Having a Black friend probably won’t change your life at all.). If you live in a part of the world where there just aren’t very many Black people, well you can try to find a Black friend on Facebook. Heck, I’ll be your friend. Just go out there and do the work to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Why? Because ultimately Black
History Cool month is not about going back into the past, it’s about celebrating the here and now. By celebrating the authors, chefs, musicians, politicians, teachers, moms and dads of color of today, we are acknowledging the ones that came before.
I say Black
History Cool Month should be lived in the present day. It should be about celebrating the diversity and beauty of Black culture. As a Black person, I would really love it if people acknowledged our artists, authors, cuisine, intellectuals, and politicians of today, instead of only reaching into the past to find the Black greats. Not that they don’t deserve mention, but their profound legacy needs to be incorporated with the rest of American history in the text books and history lessons, not segregated into one short month. Instead, leave the month of February for celebrating how cool we are today.
Happy Black Cool Month! What are you going to do celebrate?
p.s. (Here’s a little bonus: You can continue to celebrate these 5 tips March – January!)