If your company focuses on diverse and inclusive culture, you must celebrate black excellence too. Black History Month is when you can dedicate a whole month to the people of color in your company. It is time to celebrate the power and resilience of the black community at work.
February in the US and October in the UK is a reminder to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans and people of color worldwide. It is time we recognize the black heroes and leaders in our lives this Black History Month.
Here's a fun fact for you: There is no date for Black History Month. It varies depending on where you go. While it is observed in October in the UK, it is celebrated in February in the US. The message, however, remains consistent- acknowledge the history of honor, pain, and sacrifice faced by the black community over the centuries.
Racial injustice at work is a reality that persists. Whether in the United States or the United Kingdom, people of color face unemployment, discrimination, and ostracisation due to their racial identity.
Keeping all this in mind, we are here today to discuss the black community’s representation, identity, diversity, history, and culture. Let’s take this as an opportunity to honor the black community with these 7 ways to celebrate Black History Month at work.
But first, let’s take a look at:
What is Black History Month?
We all must have learned about American life and history when it comes to studying African American people. But, it was not beyond slavery or the US civil war and civil rights movement.
People from the African Diaspora (term used to denote the African people dispersed during the slave trade) have made immense contributions in many ways. Yet, people in the UK and US did not recognize black history and innovations. It was given less importance or dimly acknowledged.
As a result, Black History Month came into existence in October 1978 in the UK with the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. He worked for the Greater London Council.
Whereas the US celebrates Black History Month every February. In 1915, a historian named Carter G, Woodson, and four others founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This was the beginning of African American Studies in the US.
Almost ten years later, it was announced the Negro History Week in February. But, the same week collided with Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthday. So, they extended the event into a month-long celebration.
And in the year 1976, president Gerald Ford seized the opportunity to honor the neglected accomplishments of black Americans. And hence, Black History Month came into existence in the US.
7 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month At Work
Workplace equity is a step towards creating an equal and fair company culture. If your diversity and inclusion programs promote women’s day and pride month, you must also show your support towards the people of color.
Racial minorities have been subjugated for years. They face constant discrimination in the workplace because of their color, complexion, hair texture, etc. So, it is time to show your support towards the black community this Black History Month.
Let’s take a quick look at the 7 ways to celebrate Black History Month at work:
1. Support Black-Owned Business
As a leader, you must start supporting passionate and underrepresented black entrepreneurs. This is a great way to give directly to the black community this Black History Month and future.
Investing your money in small black-owned businesses is a positive form of economic empowerment.
Apart from making monetary contributions to such businesses, you can also ask your team to shop online owned by black people. By doing so, you can promote their business while also supporting a charitable cause.
2. Learn about the Black History in your Area
Black history and culture are omnipresent, and it’s everywhere. The thing is, we often overlook it or don't know where to look. All you need to do is seek and develop the urge to learn.
This Black History Month, pick up where you left off in your history lessons and learn about the historical black influencers in your community. You and your team can visit the local museum and look for the contributions of the black community in your area.
You can also visit the library to know more about the black leaders in your community. In addition, gather knowledge about the history of the black community and spread that knowledge further.
3. Donate for a Cause
Activists who work for racial equality and justice run pillar-to-post to fight for equal human rights for the black community. From tackling and fighting police brutality to helping black people getting jobs, these nonprofits work day and night to create opportunities for the oppressed.
So, to help you donate to the cause, we have enlisted a few nonprofit organizations that work towards providing equal rights for the black community. Take a look and donate generously.
- Black Lives Matter and Campaign Zero are nonprofits fighting against police brutality that targets the black community.
- Black Girls Code, an organization empowering young black girls to excel in tech through mentorships and instruction
- NAACP, a historic organization supporting the political, educational, social, and economic equality of the black community
- SisterLove, an AIDS and reproductive justice nonprofit particularly focused on black women’s health
- Trans Women of Color Collective, a grassroots level nonprofit supporting trans and gender-nonconforming people of color in leadership roles
4. Organize a Diversity and Inclusion Event
Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is the best way you can support your minority workers. As we all know, many unconscious biases and workplace harassment directed at people of color result from a lack of education.
Thus, organizing a diversity workshop or diversity training program around topics affecting the black community will help your privileged workers become empathetic and considerate towards minorities.
You can hire an expert to talk over a Zoom webinar or invite artists from the black community to talk about their life experiences. Such training programs are beneficial to everyone and enhance employee engagement at work.
5. Celebrate Black Literature
Whether fiction or nonfiction in every form, literature is a sign of protest and celebration because it speaks about real stories and lived experiences. But, when it comes to black authors, they do not receive much appreciation compared to white authors.
To embark on a support journey towards the black community, you can promote classic and contemporary black authors and their remarkable works. This Black History Month, you could perhaps select some books written by black authors and host a company-wide book reading event.
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing by Maya Angelou (Autobiography)
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Remember to support and browse books by black authors frequently and not just during Black History Month.
6. Be a Mentor
You cannot achieve success without help. To uplift and promote black talent at work, you can become the mentor for a child, young professional, or a racial minority coworker.
All you need to do is encourage black youth and young adults to showcase their talent and skills at work or a community center. A great diversity and inclusion initiative that glorifies your company culture and values.
By showing your support through a mentorship approach, you can nurture future black leaders who will challenge inequality at work and in their communities. Trust us; you’ll inspire and get inspired!
7. Support Black Art and Artists
Poetry, art, music, dance, or any form of creatives knows no gender, race, caste, creed, or sexuality. It is free and bereft of differences, and so are black creatives. From poets to musicians, black creatives are essential for the sustainability of black culture.
This October or February, celebrate Black History Month at work by supporting the black artist community and the undeniable black culture.
Do you not know much about black artists? Fret not! Here are some popular music options by some amazing Afrofuturist musicians you can choose to listen to:
- ‘Why Don’t You Cry’ by Willow Smith
- ‘Them Changes’ by Thundercat
- ‘Never Catch Me’ by Flying Lotus
- ‘Overcome’ by Laura Mvula
- ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ by Janelle Monae
The purpose of Black History Month is to raise awareness of past injustices and the future development and equality for the black community. The African American life was never easy, and this is an approach towards supporting their contributions in society and at work.
After a phase of protests and Covid-19 impacts, we must speak about racial equality and improve black Americans’ lives.
On that note, you just had a look at the 7 ways to celebrate Black History Month at work. Make sure to implement them and make your workplace equitable, diverse, and discrimination-free.
We wish you an educational, equal, and fun Black History Month!