For this Black History Month, Consider the Black Woman
Aaaand we're back.
I know everyone's coming off of these post-Black Panther jitters, so I figured it'd be a perfect time to talk about the significance of the month in which the movie was released.
Think about Black History Month. Really think about it.
What names do you immediately think of when you think about Black History Month? Of course there's Martin Luther King, Jr. Can't forget about him. I bet you've got Fredrick Douglas or Benjamin Carver.
What about the women? Are you thinking about Rosa Parks? Definitely. Don't lie. Maybe you're thinking about Harriet Tubman. Or Ella Fitzgerald. Madame CJ Walker?
Let's move more into black feminists. Who do you think of? Not pop culture icons like Beyonce or Yara Shahidi.
How about Audre Lorde? bell hooks? Patricia Hill Collins? Alice Walker? Maybe she made your list, because purple's your favorite color.
I'm going to say it guys: Black History Month can typically become Black Men's History Month. In the same way that the Women's Marches became the (white!) Women's Marches. The same way that the suffragist movement was about white women's suffrage. Black women fall to the wayside in most of the movements that they helped create. Black feminists created intersectional feminism, yet they are rarely celebrated in black spaces and women's spaces for their achievements. Feminist scholars exclude black feminist scholars in academic spaces in this same way.
This is a short article that serves as a reminder to reevaluate how we view holidays, movements and public memory. Black history is rich— it shouldn't have to have a separate month to be studied because African American history is American history. In that same vein, African American women's history is also American history. It's women's history.
But it'll all mean nothing if we just choose the same five black men and two black women to remember once a year.
So what can you do? I have a few ideas:
- Learn about black women's history. Here's a few articles to get you started
- Teach your children the names of famous black women. Give them books written by black women authors (Oprah, Nalo Hopkinson-- who writes AMAZING sci fi books centered around the Caribbean-- Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Tiffany Haddish, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston to name a few). Show them movies featuring complex black women.
- Support black women owned businesses.
- Check out this awesome website I found called ForHarriet.com which is all about black women's history, achievements, activism, etc. It's such an important message and idea, and this is the perfect month to support it.
Happy Black History Month!