February, the month dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of Blacks is upon us and this year more than ever, we should think about the purpose Black History Month serves.
Where Black history is concerned, Canada specializes in not knowing, thereby giving the conspiracy of ignorance, the force of law, requiring that we prioritize the emotional comfort of white people above truth.
This year, rather than using the month to look at the past and saying how well we did, we could look at the future and say how much more do we have to fight.
Will Blacks be better off this year because February was designated in their honor?
Will Canadians in general, be more knowledgeable about the contributions Black people have made and are making to this country?
And, will we be any more unified as a nation than we were when in February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the senate, introduced the motion to recognize Contributions of Black Canadians, and February as Black History Month, and it was adopted on March 4, 2008.
When will it be not only understood and accepted but also established that Black history is Canadian history.
Until that is done, the present cannot change and neither can the future.
The start of the pandemic 2019, followed by the protests worked like the contrasting dye used in MRI scans, highlighting imperfections in the internal governmental structures.
However, awareness by itself has never been enough to change existing conditions, and the work of moving from diagnosis must be underway.
In this era of police brutality, denial of racism, often heard “N” word, unjustified stops, unlawful detention, and Black Lives Matter it is crucial that we expand the emphasis of Black History Month from its previous mission of applauding the accomplishments of Blacks to focusing on serious issues that continue to threaten our future as a race.
Blacks — and Canada— would benefit more if the month of February was used to focus on improving the present rather than looking back at the past.
Black History Month should be a tool to weave the two together and provide a platform for fighting against the things that continue to get in our way.
Imagine the impact of dedicating an entire month to working on solutions for the disparities and developing a road map forward. There is no better way to show our pride in being Black than to take our future into our own hands.
Social injustice has always been among the most prevalent problems plaguing Black people, and it is evident that it still continues to pose a major challenge.
Some progress has been made, but in many we are still struggling to be seen as productive citizens by mainstream Canadians.
It is easy these days to teach young people who they are as a people, but it is much harder to get them on track to where they need to be. Of course, history is essential to everyone’s self-esteem, but fixing the broken system is paramount to survival.
That’s why I want this February 2022 of all years , amidst the global pandemic to be a month of difference and meaningful somber reflection … a month of celebration and sustained determination.
Black History Month is not just for Black people but also for white people as it calls for much more than just having white students read a poem by a Black poet.
Not playing the race card, but white people ought to use this month to engage in a shared form of vulnerability and mourning, a collective recognition, with a fearless countenance, of how white racist complicity and black suffering were historically linked and are currently intertwined.
Also in that selfsame moment, lament a country that continues to grant privilege to whiteness, and continues to fall far short of the current pandemic has not put us all in the same boat, but in the same storm.
It’s plain to see that a change must be in the way we celebrate Black History: new strategies, new tools and new organizations that can last are necessary.
Black History Month could instead be a month about galvanizing, of redoubling, efforts and pushing towards the light to ensure that Blacks affirm and maintain their rights.
There is a lot to do so let us start in February 2022. The past is already cast. We are in the present and we must remain progress bent.
Aleuta continua — The struggle continues.