Black History Month

History

Black History Month started at a Chicago festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people. Carter Woodson observed this festival, and opened up a Black history booth during the 3 week duration of the celebration. Soon after the festival ended, he decided to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (Now changed to Association for the Study of African American Life and History).

While trying to get his project uncovered and spread, Negro Achievement week was created by a fraternity. Woodson was inspired by this idea, and created a week that would celebrate the achievements and history of African Americans, and also contained Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays, 2 very important figures of the civil war.

Then in 1976, the week was extended to Black History Month, and every President since then has acknowledged and celebrated it. Every month, a new theme is created to highlight Black achievements that are currently being overshadowed.

2021 Theme: Black Families: Representation, Identity and Diversity

Historically, Black families were split apart, so once they were able to stay together the importance of family in Black cultured soared. Multiple generations of a family would live together, and young ones growing up learned many principles of family; Like respecting ones elders, not talking back, and sticking with eachother through thick and thin.

Though Black family dynamics have changed over the years, and especially since 1960, the aspect of family in Black culture has stayed constant. The importance of this sector of Black culture is discussed in this years theme, with the representation of Black families, and the identity and diversity attached to it.

Importance of representing Diversity

Black families made there way into mainstream media around the 1990s. Shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Girlfriends and Moesha, featuring majority Black casts, were popular in the 90s. Showing the Black children and teens watching, a family that looked and acted similar to their own.

Adequate media representation is important and self-esteem boosting for not only teenagers and adults, but most importantly children. in the past couple of decades children have grown up staring at the screen, and starting to make connections with those people and actors.

If the media fails to show someone who looks like you, or who has the same experiences, joys, or problems as you, you are more likely to keep that part of you secret from others because of a fear of rejection and isolation. This is why positive media representation is important, because of the impact it can have on a childs confidence and self esteem.

Identity

As a child grows up, their parents are most likely their first role model. This relationship between a Black child and a parents is special because of the racial identity learned by the child. Hard conversations about this identity can come and go, but the Black identity is not defined by racism. The postive and confident Black role models in the family of a child set the stage for that child’s idenity as a Black person.

The racial identity of Black people is, in most cases there main sense of self and identity. This connection to ones Black culture and community and in turn the familial values that follow, result in a person confident in their skin.

Going Into the Month

Black History Month has been a celebrated tradition since it was first recognized in 1976. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, we must continue to support and uplift Black voices in all spaces. It is our duty to pursue educational resources to learn more about the incredible achievements and stories of Black individuals, and the community as a whole — not just in February, but year round!

Black History = American History.

The contributions Black people have made to are far too abundant to be confined into 28 days – and this Black History Month, supporting organizations that work to implement more diverse topics in educational curriculums and lessons is key to making sure students are learning more than the negative aspects of Black History (slavery, the Civil War), and so that Black youth may ‘see themselves in what they’re studying’. (tntp.org). A great example of an org is @diversifyournarrative!

Celebrate Black Joy Stories

Black History should not be limited to the struggles of Black people. Solely focusing on negative, traumatic events, prejudices and stereotypes can lead to young Black people to settle for distorted views of their culture and history.

Support independent Black creatives (artists, poets, musicians)

Continue to listen to podcasts and consume media by Black creators, read books and watch movies centering around black stories, purchase from Black-owned businesses!

Donate to black families in need

Donating to mutual aid groups such as the Black Collective (theblkcollective.org/mutualaid), @NYCBlackAid on Twitter, and Healthy Black Families Inc (healthyblackfamiliesinc.org) can help relieve Black families struggling with rent, food insecurity, and more!

Focus on The Positive Too!

Throughout the month, the team at Zenerations will be highlighting various positive stories and perspectives on Black culture, historical events, achievements, and experiences from both the past and present, through conducting research and interviews!

Team Member Statements

Layla Hussein

February 1st is a start of a new month, often symbolizing renewal, growth, and reflections. But for the Black community, the start of February represents the ongoing fight and journey to celebrate our culture, innovations, and experiences.

February 1st is a start of a new month, often symbolizing renewal, growth, and reflections. But for the Black community, the start of February represents the ongoing fight and journey to celebrate our culture, innovations, and experiences.

As a young African American girl, February means happiness as I can take pride in my background. When I see mass media outlets dedicating their platform to Black history, I am filled with jubilance since too often, our contributions are rarely credited to us.

However, there is loads of work that still needs to be done….

…to ensure that the Black community does not live another century of systemic oppression.

  • You do not have to be a part of a community to simply be an ally, so with this new month, I implore you to think about what you can do to make February an actionable month for the Black community.
  • Support underrated Black artists, read books from Black authors, donate to bail funds, help Black businesses, and above all, listen.
  • Be comfortable with discomfort as you learn perspectives from your own.

This month is not only a month for celebrating our history, but an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to educate, respect, and support to instill an inclusive environment for all.

Kimberly Cross

I wholeheartedly believe that Black History is something that should be celebrated and represented throughout the entire year. Black History shouldn’t be the topic of discussion ONLY when the month of February comes around. It shouldn’t be that it’s the prime focus for a month, then it never comes to mind again. Black History is just as valid. Black History is not event, it’s something that we have and are living through at this very moment.

Black History month this year, personally feels like a breath of fresh air especially amidst the negatives and chaos of 2020. This month allows for the shedding of positivity as we highlight and appreciate Black excellence, culture and achievements. I see Black History Month as a beacon of light during this dark time of racial inequality and discrimination.


SOURCES:


A Collaborative Effort Between the ZENERATIONS Team

Quotes from:

Layla Hussein

15-year-old Layla Hussein is an aspiring journalist, entrepreneur, and coder from The Bronx, NY. Growing up in The Bronx has allowed Layla to quickly understand the racial disparities across the globe and be an advocate for change. Her passions including writing about BIPOC issues, gender inequity, immigration, and general current events that are affecting loved ones around her. She is the Co Founder of GenZ Girls, an organization that spotlights influential females in marginalized communities since the media fails to do so. She is also the founder of Journals of Color, an upcoming literary magazine just for teens in The Bronx.

Kimberly Cross

Kimberly Cross is a 16-year-old Jamaican who currently a student at the East Orange High School in New Jersey. She’s a very passionate advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement and racial equality. She uses her poetry and speeches as acts of activism and protesting from home. In the future, Kimberly plans to major in either Biology, Biochemistry or Political Science in hopes to make a difference and fix many of the global issues that exist today. In her free time, however, she enjoys Youtube, Tiktok, and also music. She’s honored and excited to be apart of the junior team at Zenerations and to be able to share her work and interact with such phenomenal and brilliant young people!

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