The past year has been emotionally exhausting for so many Black Americans. As Black folks endured the last year of the Trump administration and suffered grave losses due to COVID-19, Black Americans have oftentimes struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With the successful swearing-in of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 46th president and 49th vice president of the United States, many Black Americans are breathing a collective sigh of relief and are looking forward to a new year, a new administration, and a new way to celebrate this new chapter in American democracy.
This Black History Month brings a new addition to great Black American celebrations. Kamala Harris is the first woman of color to become vice president of the United States. She openly celebrates her Jamaican heritage and her affiliation with the historic Howard University and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I am a firm believer that Black History Month is a time to celebrate Blacks who have contributed to our collective foundation both in America and in the diaspora. I also think Black History Month is a time to celebrate not only those among us who have done amazing things to advance Black people, but also everyday Black folks who contribute to making their families, communities and this country a better place.
I have been thinking of ways to celebrate Black History Month this year, recognizing all of the amazing Black people who have come before me, those who walk alongside me, and those we have lost too soon to COVID-19, police violence or some other ills. We often joke and/or lament that Black History Month is the shortest month of the year, but there are still 28 days for us to learn and also make an impact in someone’s life.
This year I am going to commit to a few things to celebrate the month. I am going to be deliberate about reading a novel and works of poetry by a Black author. I have so many books on my shelf that need to be opened and appreciated. I will also be deliberate about donating to small social justice organizations that are doing the work on the ground each and every day to support Black people. Many of these organizations need our financial support and February is the perfect time to research these organizations and begin modest monthly contributions.
There are so many ways we can celebrate the abundance that is Blackness. I am so grateful my parents gave me the foundation to be proud of my Blackness and feel connected to other Black people in America and across the globe. Here’s to a month filled with learning and celebration and appreciation for the past, present and future. Happy Black History Month.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also What’s In It For Us podcast.