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MY Black History Month

February 14, 2013

black_books

MY Black History Month, this year especially, is confusing. On the one hand, as I’ve mentioned in previous years, BHM is a time to create a space for people of Africa and the African Diaspora to showcase contribution to their communities (and the world), to have an open dialogue about how Black people are moving into the conscious collective in a positive light. But I can honestly say that I’ve been doing that all year. And have gotten slack for it.

A little while back, a former friend on Facebook commented about the types of posts I make on my wall. He stated that when I come up in his news feed that I’m always ranting about “Black History Month stuff,” as if it was an annoyance or that it wasn’t in season to be posting those types of articles. In truth, I post a mix of things and yes they are typically anti-colonial, anti-oppressive, black empowerment, racially charged articles, photos and discussions. Not only was this comment offensive, but his attitude disturbed and angered me which made me wonder if this white able-bodied heterosexual male really felt that there was only one month to recognize black achievements in such high concentration…and that was it.

Not to pick on the white able-bodied heterosexual male, members in my own family have also expressed that there’s a time and a place to learn about black history. I agree, but that time and place is right now and everywhere. There’s a systemic nature in which black history has been hidden from the general public. Canada particularly has been congratulating ourselves on the Underground Railroad when there is a rich and deep history of how Black Canadian arrived on this land, survived in this land (YES THERE WAS SLAVERY IN CANADA UNTIL 1830s!) and how we’ve contributed and thrived in this land.

I have a button (courtsey of Nia Centre of the Arts) on my winter coat:

Black_on_purpose

And I love the dialogue it brings up, the pride in other black folks who see it, the questions people of other backgrounds pose when it catches their attention. “On Purpose” reminds me that it’s no mistake, it’s not hidden. Being black is something to be honoured. And yes I’ve had black people roll their eyes, make comments that ‘pro-black’ is out of style. To me, being black isn’t better but it is me and as I grow and discover more about myself, I have to, have to, have to discover more about my people, my origins and my history.

I’m in a good place where more than 2/3 of my friends on Facebook are teaching me (not just entertaining me) about gender politics, equity in the LGTBQ community, First Nations rights, immigration laws and visibility for disabled peoples PLUS a full plate of black history (although I’m always hungry for more). And I am more than excited about reading and sharing it, 365 days a year. Right now, during February I’ll take in all the history I can. Digest it in March, research it in April, write about it in May, debate it in June and so on and so on. And not just on Facebook or the internet, but in actual books (note the new additions to my shelve above).

I started late this year but hold on tight. Explore with me, share with me, learn with me as we delve into MY Black History Month.

Over and out!

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