Hey there, if you got my text and are wondering what this is, and why we aren’t talking about a white history month check out this Blavity article. This blog is going to talk about Black History Month and guidance for ways white people can engage during February and beyond.
Black History Month should be a time of celebration for everyone. If you’re white and sitting here thinking, “but how can I celebrate Black History Month? This isn’t for me,” I get it.
To be sure, Black history is everyone's history, but has been systemically left out of our history books and mainstream media. Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the Black people in your life, find ways to give back to the Black community, and most importantly to put in work on breaking down the privileges in your own life and to take action to break down the white supremacy around you.
It’s true that Black History month is not about you — that’s a reason to not take up space that isn’t for you, not an excuse to do nothing at all. Maybe you’ve kept quiet because you don’t feel educated enough to say something meaningful, or maybe you’re feeling a sense of guilt. To be frank, though, this is white supremacy in action. Our white guilt will not save Black lives or stop the inequities that exist for communities of color, but our actions can!
And you are not alone in this journey — there are plenty of white folks out in this world taking steps to understand the white privilege in their own lives, how white supremacy shows up at work and at home, and taking active steps towards change and healing. There are tons of resources that exist out there, and a great first step is exploring your options, read and listen to the stories of Black people, find guides for how to show up for racial justice, and give back to Black authors, journalists, business owners, community leaders, and all the people who continue to shape and change the world we live in.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but if you’re struggling for ways or places to get started on your journey, take a look at some steps below. Happy Black History Month, and cheers to a year of growth and accountability to ourselves, and our communities. Let’s create a legacy of being actively anti-racist and no more white complacency.
Listen and Trust Black Women
From the Me Too movement, to standing up to police violence, to reproductive justice, Black women have always been at the center of this work, rooting the path for justice in healing and community. If you haven’t read up or been tuning into this work, now is a great time to start!
Take to social media and follow SPARK and In Our Own Voice to get a crash course in reproductive justice and hear the stories of Black women who are leading the movement for sexual health and rights in all communities.
NBCBLK put together a collection of stories highlighting Black women who are lifting up their communities today. Black History Month in the present! Check out She Thrives.
Speaking truth to power is not new to our work here at Planned Parenthood, nor is it new to social justice movements. Some of the most well known activists have been incredible storytellers. A great place to start in owning your own story is being able to listen and understand others. From articles, to novels, to film, you have an infinite amount of Black storytellers that exists out there. I always like to check out Barack Obama’s favorites list of the year to craft a reading and watch list. For me, the film Moonlight and Patrisse Cullors’ and asha bandeles’ book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, were two of the biggest stories that impacted me over the last year. Start building your reading list and let us know who your favorite Black storytellers are!
Learn about white supremacy and white privilege
The world is full of research and guides for how to unpack white privilege, but if you’re not sure where to get started, I recommend the classic Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. In this reading you’ll explore the structural ways racism exists and see an example of how you can examine daily effects of white privilege.
For a newer read, you may have seen Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy workbook. It is a 28 day guide into examining white supremacy in a variety of its forms. It’s a free guide, use the hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy and you’ll find a community of other folks diving into this work, too.
If you’ve read these resources before, or are looking for more, good! This is just the start for ways you can learn and take part in racial justice work. Share this blog or these resources with your friends and family members, and start a conversation about how white privilege shows up in your everyday life. Then we can start to build a community that holds each other accountable to being better and bolder in standing up against racial injustice.