We’re so close to wrapping up Black History Month! February Zoom-ed on by. Black History Month was bittersweet this year—bitter because we couldn’t gather in our cafeteria for events like we’re used to, but sweet because we’ve had the opportunity to have refreshingly candid conversations. Our staff has been fortunate to connect in more intimate and less formal ways via virtual chats and workshops.
Last year a dire need emerged to combat systemic anti-Black racism in all aspects of our lives. This year is a period of change and growth. To evolve, we understand it’s essential to turn up the volume on Black voices to listen and learn. Here are some thoughts from five of our team members on why Black History Month is important to them:
‘Black History Month is a time of celebration for my ancestors, my grandparents, and my mother, who was not allowed to drink from the ‘whites only’ fountain when she had a stopover from Jamaica to Florida on her way to Canada in the late 40s. I carry their DNA proudly with my head held high.
It is a time for those, including blacks, to learn about the many accomplishments and contributions that our people have made throughout history by reading books, watching films, and listening to black scholars. It’s time to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go. It’s time never to be judged by the colour of skin, but by the content of our character.’
‘I think knowing and understanding black history helps shape and guide our future. Black history month reminds me of how far we’ve come and the need to stay the course in championing racial equality, inclusion, education, and racial justice. It’s also time to celebrate the success stories and be hopeful for the future.’
‘Throughout my career, I’ve always been the minority. When I look around, I don’t see many people who look like me! The Black Lives Matter Movement has forced critical dialogue, so black history month hits different for me this year.
It’s a time to celebrate how far we’ve come and a reminder of how far there is to go. Without the achievements and contributions of black people worldwide, I can’t imagine how our world would look! Through education and discussion, the more we can change. I encourage everyone to watch a video, read an article, or listen to a black story this month.’
‘When asked to write a few lines about what Black History Month means to me, I thought long and hard. Before this year, I rarely felt my voice should be heard, partly because I’m not an activist and partly because I thought the audience was tone-deaf. Last year’s events changed something in me. I was profoundly emotionally wounded. I reclused myself to learn more about my history, found comfort in listening to Emmanuel Acho, Amanda Seales, and others to heal. I emerged from my silent mindset with an outpouring of love for my culture and an urge to let it be known. I created appreciation social posts for black people I admire and love; I supported more black-owned businesses, I started to advocate for change. I looked forward to celebrating our culture even more. Beginning this year and onward, Black History Month will always be, for me, a time to learn, to share, to engage, and to celebrate.’
French is Fabienne’s first language, so here are her thoughts en francais, aussi!:
Lorsqu’on m’a demandé d’écrire quelques mots sur ce que le Mois de l’histoire des Noirs représente pour moi, j’ai réfléchi longuement et sérieusement. Jusqu’à cette année, j’ai rarement eu le sentiment de devoir faire entendre ma voix, en partie parce que je n’étais pas une activiste et en partie parce que je sentais que le public était muet. Les événements de l’année dernière ont changé quelque chose en moi. J’ai été profondément blessée émotionnellement. Je me suis repliée sur moi-même pour en savoir plus sur mon histoire, j’ai trouvé du réconfort en écoutant Emmanuel Acho, Amanda Seales et d’autres personnes pour guérir. Je suis sorti de mon mutisme avec un élan d’amour pour ma culture et une envie de la faire connaître. J’ai créé des postes sociaux d’appréciation pour les Noirs que j’admire et que j’aime ; j’ai soutenu davantage d’entreprises appartenant à des Noirs, j’ai commencé à plaider pour le changement. J’avais hâte de célébrer encore plus notre culture. À partir de cette année, le Mois de l’histoire des Noirs sera toujours, pour moi, un moment d’apprentissage, de partage, d’engagement et de célébration.
‘For me, Black History Month means a sense of community. It’s about finding my community and sharing. It also offers an opportunity to connect with others through experiences and stories. It feels like we have come a long way and that a lot of positive change has happened. However, there’s still so much more change and work that needs to happen. Having a community to stand with and be a part of is important to move this change forward. Sharing your story and building connections with those around you helps create common ground. It can also strengthen relationships maybe even create new friendships and allies which can make change possible.’
We hope you all have a happy, enriching Black History Month!