Many people say that regardless of there being a Black History Month, Black people should be celebrated, acknowledged, and supported all year long. This is, of course, extremely true in every sense of the word, and in my opinion, we’re slowly getting better.
In fact, all year long you can find people advocating and fighting against the injustices the Black community faces. At any time, you can find people talking about the racism, unfair treatment, discrimination, colourism, police brutality, and more, that we go through on a regular basis. We have somewhat succeeded in making these discussions a part of our everyday lives, but it is exhausting.
While it is good for these issues to be brought to the forefront of our minds and given the attention they deserve, it can be mentally draining to constantly fight what seems like a never-ending battle, with many losses and few victories. In this fight, we sometimes lose track of the progress we’ve made in the overwhelming sea of disappointment, frustration, and anger at the systems that keep us and other minorities oppressed.
Too often do we see words centred around the Black community as calls to action. We must fight because things are bad. We must be angry. We must storm the streets and hope that those who have ignored our cries for justice will hear them this time. And the sad part is, this is all true.
We do have to fight for basic human rights — from wearing afro puffs in the workplace, to not being killed on our streets. But there are thousands of organizations, social media accounts, and government initiatives who are tackling this issue right now, and making momentous progress, more than I could hope to achieve with a few articles.
So, for this Black History Month, I wanted to do something different. For once, I want to see stories that focus on Black people not just because of their Blackness or their anger, but because of their excellence.
It is getting rarer and rarer to see posts about Black joy or love or success or hope for the future. Our main focus is on what needs to be fixed, and so we rarely get the chance to look back at what we’ve accomplished.
We forget that there are several ways we can continue making progress for our community, from supporting Black-owned businesses, networking, and sharing opportunities with Black colleagues, to becoming successful yourself and paving the way for others to follow. Though progress may seem slow, and even non-existent at times, things are getting better, and maybe we can continue to empower our community with a little bit of reflection and hope, rather than melancholy.
Reflecting may not seem to be helping the problem, but looking back at where we’ve come from and taking a moment to think of all the changes we’ve helped to bring about in just the past year can be refreshing and give us hope in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes it can seem as if everything we do doesn’t matter in the long run, so it’s always good to get a reminder that we are slowly but surely making a difference in the lives of Black people all over Canada and even the world.
As we come to the end of Black History Month 2022, I find myself reflecting on my goals for this month and this supplement. I wanted to find a way to talk about the progress and successes of the Black community without sanitizing anything or pretending that things were okay. Because the sad truth is that it’s not.
There is still a lot of work to be done and with every step forward, we are met with more opposition and conflict. But we are moving forward anyways, and I think that is something we should be especially proud of. Even though we are far from perfect, there are still plenty to celebrate, and that is a beautiful thing.
Happy Black History Month to everyone reading this. I hope that from now on, we can continue fighting for Black rights and celebrating black excellence in every aspect of our lives, all year long.