February is Black History Month, a month to honor the accomplishments of African American men and women who made history.
Initially established as Black History Week in the late 1920s, it eventually was expanded to a February-long celebration in 1976.
Beyond watching the many documentaries about Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. And others, how can supporters of all kinds honor and further their legacy? How can advocates become better allies? What can allies do to help?
There are plenty of resources available to supporters to educate themselves—including BHM workshops and festivities on GSU’s campus; a list is found here.
If you’d like to be supportive, here are some tips suggested or influenced by Black creators on platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok:
Listen and learn. Stop and listen to the experiences and reflections of Black people. Learn about how race affects our system, a system that inherently is biased against people of color. Listening to what’s acceptable and what’s not and understanding to the extent that racism is ingrained in our society will make you a better ally.
Know your “role.” The moment non-black supporters use their voices in a superior tone there is a problem. Being a supporter means listening and hearing the experiences of Black people; allies must recognize they are advocates and supporters, not the focal point.
Unlearn any biases. Better understanding the history of oppression of Black men and women and how it has affected the present is vital. Open discussion biases and how they have come to be. Is essential.
Discuss the issue. Having conversations with family and friends about Black History Month creates windows for further research and discussion on why we celebrate Black History. Non-black allies need to understand that one aspect of racism is the failure to educate people about Black people’s experiences and history. Black History Month is when these discussions should be happening.
Non-Black allies can use Black History Month as a launching pad to discover new ways to interact and engage in their communities. They can advocate for diversity, equality, and inclusion at work and school, really everywhere and anywhere it is needed.
Becoming a strong ally is a progression; it takes time and continuous effort, and it is among the most important challenges that face this nation.