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Black History Month

Black History Month

Dear (Fellow) White People

As a white baby boom cisgender female, I am grateful to be working with a wonderfully diverse group of Spectra Partners and vendors. Spectra Diversity is 100% committed to moving the needle in a progressive direction in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion – during Black History Month and all year long.

That said, I’m on a learning journey. In Spectra Diversity’s Powering Inclusive Cultures Facilitation Kit, we teach that inclusion in particular is not a destination but a journey. As a white woman raised in a white suburb in Minnesota, I’ve had to do a lot of learning. One of the important lessons I gathered in the past year is this:

It is not Black people’s job to educate white people.

Dear white people, it is your job to educate yourself.  You have Google, the library and other resources. In one handy list (one item for each day in Black History Month) here are 28 things you can do to move the needle.

28 ways for (fellow) white people to honor Black History Month

  1. Subscribe to this newsletter https://www.antiracismdaily.com/ It is every day learning and awareness building.
    Black History Month
    Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. George K. Warren. (National Archives Gift Collection)
  2. Buy some Black History flash cards. There are many available and they’ll help you learn the names of the Black people who were left out of mainstream history books in many cases. Keep them until you know all the people and then pass it on!
  3. https://www.minoritybusinessgrowth.org/volunteer Volunteer. You’ll be able to meet Black business owners and act as a mentor for minority businesses needing assistance to grow. This group I volunteered with is in Minneapolis but you may find similar organizations in your location.
  4. Hire Black businesses and independent contractors. Spectra Diversity has a Black sales assistant, transgender IT person, and a Pakistani-American researcher/writer and a diverse group of Spectra Partners.
  5. Need a calendar app? Use Calendly (we do) developed by a Black man. Here is his story: https://atlantatechvillage.com/buzz/2018/04/26/tope-awotona-a-founder-story/
  6. Read “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo. Better yet – buy it from a Black or minority owned bookstore. Oprah has a list of Black owned bookstores in your state: https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/books/a33497812/black-owned-bookstores/
  7. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/pexels-2286921/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1868930">Pexels</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1868930">Pixabay</a>Mind your microaggressions. It’s like having a mosquito in your tent; or a paper cut when you’re chopping jalapenos; or pollen in your eyes when you have allergies. Microaggressions can cause real harm. Here are some tips to take to heart: https://leadatanylevel.com/microaggressions-sweat-small-stuff/
  8. Watch history TV. Seriously. Harriet; Selma; I Am Not Your Negro; Hidden Figures; 42; Loving; 21 Years a Slave; Fruitvale Station; 13th
  9. Take Free Courses on African-American History from Yale and Stanford: From Emancipation, to the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond. Here’s a link: https://www.openculture.com/2020/06/take-free-courses-on-african-american-history-from-yale-and-stanford.html
  10. Learn to cook a “traditional” Black or soul food dish. I’m starting with the red beans and rice and the salmon croquette patties. Here’s one site with recipes: https://www.soulfoodandsoutherncooking.com/african-american-soul-food-recipes.html
  11. Start or join a book club. I was lucky enough to join a diverse virtual group. It’s new. The first book read was “White Fragility”; second was “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi; the book we’re reading now is “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson
  12. Watch TV dramas/fiction. So many good choices that I’m making February Black movie month at my house. Here are a few ideas: Mudbound; The Hate U Give; The Help; The Color Purple; Glory; Precious; One Night in Miami; Hustle & Flow
  13. Hang out with Black people. This is hard to do with COVID-19 raging, but it’s super easy when you can do it safely outdoors with social distancing. Find a bar, restaurant, club or gym where Black people are the majority, (or have Black owners) and go there. Take in the atmosphere. Become a regular! https://www.eatblackowned.com/
  14. Be an advocate for the social groups in which you belong. After much persistence, I was able to make diversity and inclusion part of my choir’s mission statement. Success! Next step – recruit BIPOC choir members.
  15. As you may have noticed – I’m a big reader. Try reading Black authors not only for social justice issues and education – but for FUN! Here’s an article with a few ideas toward the bottom of the article: https://www.tor.com/2009/02/12/celebrate-black-history-month-by-reading-sf/
  16. Modify your hobbies. There are so many hobby and club groups. Join one that has a majority minority membership. I’m in 2 book clubs (one is diverse) and choir.
  17. Podcasts!! There are so many. Try this one: http://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/
  18. This podcast recommend is from my daughter (PhD in school psychology – yup – I’m  proud). It’s about race in schools.  There are 5 episodes. https://nice-white-parents.simplecast.com/episodes/introducing-nice-white-parents
  19. Does your organization have Employee Resource Groups or Affinity Groups? If they do, ask to join the Black or BIPOC group. When you go, be prepared to do a lot of listening. And you’ll meet new friends!
  20. Another book: “The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person” by Fredrick Joseph.  Here’s his website: https://www.theblackfriendbook.com/
  21. How could we not include Ted Talks! There are so many. Here are a few favorites:
    1. Verna Myers: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them.
    2. Color blind or color brave? | Mellody Hobson
    3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable | Luvvie Ajayi
  22. Curated list for Black History Month. Sign up here:  https://www.28daysofblackhistory.com/.
  23. Learn the history of Black History Month here: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
  24. Black History monthPoetry from Black poets. Many people were gobsmacked by the Inaugural Day poem by 22-year-old Amanda Gorman’s poetry at the 2021 Inauguration. Here is her website:  https://www.theamandagorman.com/
  25. And here’s more on Black authors and poets:  https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-women-in-art-and-literature
  26. Dear parents: Are your children learning about Black history in school? You can supplement their learning with this: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/black-history-month/
  27. Oh Canada… Our neighbors to the north also celebrate Black History Month. Here is an article with several links: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/black-history-month/
  28. Make a commitment. There are 28 items here. Can you commit to doing half of them? Most of them? Remember that inclusion is a journey. Commit to taking steps toward inclusion.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Chinese proverb

In summary, lean in and listen more. Life is short – do what you can to make our world a better place during Black History Month and all year long.

Mask up and stay safe,

Chris Jones, Spectra Diversity, Co-founder and CEO

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