It’s easy to overlook the significance of something incredible when it is subdued by opinion. Black History Month is an ongoing example of that. “Why do we celebrate Black History Month? Why in 2022 is it still relevant or necessary?”. These and many other questions tend to divert our focus from the heart of this cultural celebration.
The goal of Black History Month is simple; Black History Month is an opportunity to take a moment to see and celebrate the many contributions and achievements of the black community. Think of it as a birthday. Year after year we take the time to celebrate loved ones. Why? Is one birthday in a lifetime not enough to recognize the significance of someone’s life? Have we ever asked, “Why are birthdays still celebrated in 2022?”.
The joy of a birthday stems from the joy of knowing the one celebrated. The same should be true of Black History Month. Black History Month, like birthdays, can inspire joy as we take a moment to acknowledge the beauty of the black community.
Black History is greater than Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Malcolm X. Black History is Mike Mitchell and Nate Kendrick of Mike & Mikes’s Desserts. Two black men who amplified the gluten-free dessert industry in Central Florida. Black History is Prima Burney of Open Door Wellness. A black woman dedicated to promoting holistic wellness. Black History is Stayce Jones, founder, and CEO of Simply Creative Designing Inc. Black History is Lisa Kirk, HB Holmes, Genisia Green, and the many other amazing black entrepreneurs in the Catapult community.
Black History Month is not only a celebration of what was but also of what is and what can be. Black History is woven into the fabric of this nation. But without a moment to stop and appreciate its magnificence, the threads within that fabric become frayed and neglected.
As this year’s celebration of Black History Month comes to an end, we should each work to become more aware of the Black History we encounter every day. As we do so may we be captivated and inspired. Soon we’ll find ourselves grateful to be given twenty-eight days to acknowledge and celebrate Black History. One day would not even begin to scratch the surface.
As you are launching into the business world and rising as leaders within the beautiful city of Lakeland, here are 3 ways to integrate Black History into your everyday work culture.
- Listen: Our opinions tend to crowd out the experiences of others. To cultivate a diverse culture, we must listen and make room for those experiences. Hearing is a physical action, listening is an intentional one. Let’s set aside our opinions and truly listen.
- Celebrate Don’t Appropriate: Sadly, black culture is often subject to appropriation. The “celebration” holds an ulterior motive; to seem relevant, philanthropic, or appear diverse. Let the celebration of black culture be the means and an end. Let the motive be to celebrate for the sake of celebration, not your own elevation.
- Make Room: Community leader Sylvia Blackmon-Roberts defines diversity as “the presence of differences within a given setting. It is not a stand-alone concept, as it is completed with Equity and Inclusion”. Diversity is often relegated to acknowledging differences. However, true diversity is seeing the difference, making room for the difference, and treating the difference with the same respect as your similarities. Cultivate a workplace that not only invites the differences to exist but also to inhabit.
Let’s not allow Black History Month to be a silo of celebrating black culture, but the beginning of consistent recognition. Let’s amplify the voices of every race and creed so the melodious symphony of diversity can be heard near and far. Happy Black History Month.