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 actually 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 can celebrate 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 plagiarize myself, here are my original five tips (updated and edited from 2010)
to help you enjoy
Black History Black Cool Month.
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 a 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, Bernice McFadden, Mat Johnson or Attica Locke. These contemporary Black authors are prolific and their writing outstanding. You can’t go wrong with any of their books.
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 have moved beyond soul food (like 400 years ago, but let’s not quibble about dates). They have expanded their repertoire. Since I don’t know where you live, I can’t tell you where to go eat, but thanks to the miracle of the Google, you can easily find a list of the best Black-owned restaurants in your city. Like this one for the San Francisco Bay area or this one highlighting Black-owned restaurants in Atlanta. As you’re munching on your meal in this restaurant, 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 find something on Netflix with Black characters in it. But seriously, if you don’t live somewhere where Black Panther will be showing, you might just want to move. That movie is already breaking records and it’s not even out yet! But by no means is Black Panther the only option. It’s entirely possible you’re just not that into superhero flicks and you should not force yourself to sit through Black Panther, just because it’s probably the Blackest thing Hollywood has ever endorsed. There are other options. In no particular order; Anything by Spike Lee, but try The Miracle at St. Anna for something a little different from Spike. Anything starring Denzel Washington or directed by Ava DuVernay. For comedy lovers, try The Incredible Jessica James on Netflix. 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, try Blavity or Cassius Magazine. They both have lots of multimedia content 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 might not change your life at all but it could give you a whole new perspective on certain things.). 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 virtual Black friend like on Facebook. Heck, I’ll be your virtual friend. Just drop a line in the comments. 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 inherently kick-ass greatness that is this culture that has survived and thrived despite every attempt at its destruction.
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 heroes.” (And by acknowledging, I don’t mean appropriating our culture and calling that a compliment.) Black history, the actual history of how Black people built and shaped this country as it stands today, needs to be incorporated into the rest of American history in every single text-book and history lesson, not segregated into one short month. (And nothing should be, ahem, left out even if it makes certain folks uncomfortable.) That gives the wrong impression that Black History isn’t an intrinsic part of American history.
Let’s put our history where it belongs – in the (American) history books – and use February for an all-out celebration of Blackness.
Happy Black Cool Month! How are you going to celebrate?
p.s. (Here’s a little bonus: You can continue to celebrate Blackness March – January as well!)