European colonizers met non-binary people advising kings, and being spiritual leaders, warriors, and court eunuchs among nations and tribes as diverse as the Zulu, Buganda, and Amhara. Christianity and Islam coexisted with women warriors, men with long hair and braids, and women marrying each other for convenience and economic stability. The diaspora is no different; there are many examples from Brazil, Haiti, the U.S., and Cuba where African descendants break our normal expectations of men and women.
I think it would be healthy to end Black history month with a lunch and learn at jobs across the country. On February 28th, there should be a fishbowl activity where Black folks and other people of color sit in the inner circle while White folks sit on the outer circle and just listen for a full hour about the feelings and experiences that we have had just working in their institutions (and this obviously wouldn’t be enough time.) This needs to happen without any backlash from HR and without interruption.
As educators, I believe we should empower Black youth and youth of color to take their rightful places in fields related to farming and agriculture. I’ve heard of students going on trips to farms and having great experiences farming because they get to be outdoors, to move around, and feel validated in bringing the knowledge they have about farming to existing environmental spaces. After learning about the ties between racism and food justice, (see this dope article by Soul Fire Co-Director Leah Penniman) Black people have an unmistakable stake in this work and it is crucial to empower our youth to be revolutionary change makers on this front.
It’s refreshing to hear music that is intentionally moving away from some of this contemporary trash we have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong I be loving certain songs when they add to my overall vibe, but I acknowledge the lack of substance in a lot of the records. And while I’m not saying that I only want to listen to this conscious type of rap, I am saying that I appreciate the way in which this can impact our kids.
There is an elegance to being able to capture such complex issues like Afro-Latino identities. This issue is really as simple as a question on the Living Environment Regents. I mean, imagine if science teachers taught the unit on genes and punnett squares through the lens of the diaspora; everyone in the room would not only be engaged, but they would know where the hell they came from…like genetically and geographically. Hell, this quote makes me want to get a science certification just so I can ask the question: “How do Afro-Latino features manifest?” or “Can two white people create a person with African features?”
I just felt wetness on my face
The constant confirmation of how deeply hated and resented we are
The reminder that, not even for the shortest month of the year,
could I sit cocooned, wrapped ONLY in Black love joy and glory.
For 28 whole days.
Make sure the celebration is shared across your school. Black History Month has grown since my days in K-12. The “create a poster of MLK” lessons have shifted into a discovery of amazing artists, writers, painters and revolutionaries that students otherwise may ever be exposed to. Use this month to create a lesson with your students that celebrates Claudette Colvin, Bayard Rustin and The Black Panthers. Host a celebration after school, bring in food, music and dance.