An Ally’s Guide to Celebrating Black History Month

Staffer Mia Leon explains how to be an ally for Black History month and continue your ally-ship after February as well.

An+Ally%27s+Guide+to+Celebrating+Black+History+Month

Words by Mia Leon

Black History Month should be a time for everyone to celebrate and appreciate Black history, culture, and talent. Some non-Black people may be thinking, “this month isn’t for me. What am supposed to do?” They’re right: Black History Month isn’t for non-Black people. But it’s also not an excuse to sit back and remain unengaged. Let’s look at some ways everyone can celebrate Black History Month during the pandemic.

Acknowledgement
The first step is acknowledging Black History Month as an important annual observance. The “First Day of Black History Month” event on your calendar is not just for show. Non-Black people must move from passive observation to active engagement. But don’t just acknowledge Black History Month; keep reading to learn how you can support the Black community this month and every month.

Education
The second step is to educate yourself. Spoiler alert: the Eurocentric curriculum you were taught school probably left out some stuff. You might think you know about Black history, but we all need to refresh our memory, continue to learn, and make sure we are looking at the correct sources for information. At this day and age, there is endless amounts of information at our fingertips. Social media and other platforms can make learning about Black history navigable and engaging.

There are multiple Instagram accounts that post regularly about Black history and current events.
Here are a few of my favorites:
@mediablackoutusa : regularly posts positive Black culture news
@blackhistory : informative posts on every type of Black history (not just Egypt and slavery)
@blackhistoryintwominutes : short and engaging videos about different events in Black history
Take a scroll through these accounts and you will leave with much more information than you had before.

While you’re on Instagram, go ahead and follow a few Black creators to keep your feed diverse. If you love traveling, @thecatchmeifyoucan is the first Black woman to travel to every country! Looking for some delicious recipes? @sophia_roe and @iamtabithabrown post amazing food regularly. I’ve got accounts for the fashionistas, too. @kiitana is the owner of a hair wrap brand and posts great fashion content. There’s something for everyone! Even just liking posts, leaving comments, saving posts for later, and engaging with content goes a long way in supporting Black influencers and their Instagram algorithm.

YouTube is also a place you can reeducate yourself. There are so many videos on different topics for all ages. You can do a broad search about Black History Month as a whole (check out Black History is American History or The significance of Black History Month in 2021), or find specific events or people to learn about (History has an engaging Youtube playlist). You can even get younger kids involved! Here is a video explaining BHM for kids. Black History Month should be a whole family experience, just like any other holiday. There are many family-friendly videos on Youtube.

This February, I also encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and educate yourself on white supremacy and privilege. YouTube has videos such as Explained: White Privilege, Systemic Racism, and Implicit Bias and Understanding Our Roots – White Supremacy is More Than the KKK. We owe it to Black people to learn about it and grow from it.

Celebration
Another step to take this Black History Month is celebrating and appreciating Black creators. Black artists are often underrepresented and there are amazing actors, writers, directors, painters, sculptures, and many other Black artists out there to explore!

If you love movies, the African American Film Series returns to the Louisville Free Public Library this month. The films will be shown virtually every Sunday with an online panel to discuss each film. Registration is required and online seating is limited. You can reserve your spot here. This is such an easy and fun way to celebrate Black films during the pandemic!

If movies aren’t your thing, there are lots of amazing books by Black authors. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angleou are my personal favorites.

It is also a great idea to “buy Black” not just this February, but as often as you can by supporting local Black-owned businesses. Boujie Biscuit, Chef’s Cut Pizzeria, 502 Cafe, Kizito Cookies, and Mamas Kitchen are a few of our staff favorites.

Once you’ve tried a few Black-owned restaurants, consider buying from other Black-owned local businesses. Makeup By Super Jaz, Kenya Rose Body Essentials, Noted Boutique, Aromatose Candles, and Shannon Drummond Photography are a couple of local Black-owned businesses to support. There is also a huge number of Black artists and businesses on Etsy, that may not be local, but are still great places to support.

Staying Safe
Louisville is celebrating Black History Month with lots of Covid-friendly events throughout the whole month! Here are a few to check out:

Microsoft’s Legacy Project
WHAT: Microsoft has partnered with the Ali Center and others worldwide to put on a series of free interactive experiences for K-12 students to celebrate and learn about Black History.
WHEN: February 1-28
WHERE: Online
For information and registration visit this link

“The Sky’s the Limit” Exhibit
WHAT: “The Sky’s the Limit: A Celebration of the History of Black Achievement in Aviation.”
WHEN: February 1-28, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
WHERE: Inside the historic Art-Deco terminal building at Bowman Field.

African American Theatre Program Virtual Cafe Open Mic
WHAT: Performances from past and present University of Louisville students. WHEN: February 14, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Livestream on Facebook, Youtube, and Zoom. Links can be found at @OfficialUofLAATP on Facebook and Instagram.

Black History Improvised
WHAT: Soul Sista Comedy and Marian Yesufu present a comedy show celebrating the lives of our everyday heroes.
WHEN: February 20, 10 p.m.
WHERE: Online
Tickets are free, but donations are accepted.

Black Superhero Showcase
WHAT: A celebration of African American History Month focusing on novels, artwork, and activities featuring some of the media’s most popular and not-so-popular black superheroes.
WHEN: February 27, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Online
For more information visit lfpl.org

More Than A Month
Lastly, I want to remind you that learning about Black History, supporting Black people, and becoming a better ally should not stop after February. We can always be better and grow together to support the Black community and fight the inequality in our world. Beyond February, let’s reeducate, celebrate, appreciate, and support Black people, history, and culture. While Black History Month isn’t for us, it is not exclusive because Black history is American history.