Every February, the country gets together to honor the achievements of Black Americans, highlighting the people who have advanced the history of the United States. But, as Dr. Carter G. Woodson — founder of “Negro History Week,” the precursor of Black History Month — viewed it, there is no such thing as ‘Negro History,’ because what was called ‘Negro History’ was only a missing segment of world history as a whole.
The African diaspora is a crucial element of not only American history but Latin America and the Caribbean. Out of the 10.7 million enslaved people who survived the Middle Passage, only 388,000 disembarked in North America, while the remaining people landed in the Caribbean and South America.
As Latines, our history, culture, and identity are built on the collective struggles of the Black community. It is our duty to not only know the past but acknowledge and uplift the Black communities and people who, from the African diaspora, continue to create stories.
These are six active ways to honor Black History Month as a Latines:
Listen and Learn
It is imperative to vigorously seek information and educate ourselves on Black history, to learn about the experiences, struggles, and stories of Black and Afro-Latinx communities. The tools are vast: online archives, museums, and organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition.
Support Black Businesses and Creatives
One of the most direct practices to further Black economies and stories is spending money on one of the roughly 2.5 million Black-owned businesses in America. In a capitalist society, dollars translate to direct votes and are a currency to uplift communities. Some tools and directories to find Black-owned businesses are Buy From a Black Woman, Black-Owned Market, Black-Owned Etsy Shops, and Bon Appetit Black-owned restaurants. At the same time, you can take some time to read this BELatina story on Black women entrepreneurs. Lastly, this AfroTech article lists eleven Black Creatives to follow and support.
Read, Read, and Read
Books aren’t considered the greatest educational instrument for no reason. So, don’t be afraid of hitting your local libraries and bookstores looking for a Black-History month collection that will feature Black writers, Black stories, and Black history. Whether you are interested in fiction or non-fiction books, Goodreads provides a wide variety of options for you to pick your next read from. Just remember not to pile them up on your TBR shelf until next year.
Podcasts & Documentaries
An alternative option to reading and another great source of information are podcasts that focus on Black narratives, like NPR’s Code Switch or Black History Year. Most streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu provide collections on Black History Month with extensive multimedia resources. PBS also offers African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Civil Rights, and other carefully curated collections.
Attend Events and Webinars
Community is built by people coming together. It is easier to learn about a subject when immersing yourself in it, discussing it with other people, and hearing their stories. Black History Month has several online events available throughout this month, from book talks to panel discussions. You can also find more event options in Eventbrite.
Financially supporting a charity or organization makes a tremendous difference. They require reliable and steady income to do their job in furthering Black rights and equal justice. Some non-profit organizations include Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Black Girls Code, and The Black Youth Project.
Remember, celebrating Black History Month should come with the duty of not erasing the celebration and beauty of Black Culture. We, as Latines, mustn’t take center stage of this event but actively put Black Culture in the spotlight.