February is Black History Month and you might be confused as to if you should celebrate as a White person. It’s a valid concern and something a lot of people have wondered. As a White ally, I believe it’s important for White people to honor BHM because, it’s not only a time of celebrating Black history and culture, but a time to unlearn false claims we’ve been taught throughout our lives and educate ourselves about why we celebrate BHM in the first place.
Remember That Black History Month Isn’t For You
Before we start, one thing I will say is White people should NEVER include themselves as part of the years of discrimination the Black community has endured. Their history is not your history and you shouldn’t use Black History Month as a time to celebrate you and your activism as a White person for the Black community.
Educate and Understand
This can be done in many different ways: read a book, take a class, sit in on a discussion. No matter how you do it, make sure you are absorbing the information. Going out of your way to educate yourself is one thing, but absorbing the information, understanding it and implementing it in your life even beyond February is another thing.
A book I’m excited to sit down and read is “A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story” by Elaine Brown. As the first and only female Black Panther Party leader, it’s an amazing source, not only for Black history, but female Black history.
Support Black Creators
Social media is a giant avenue for support. There are so many Black creators doing amazing things on social media and they deserve to be seen and heard! This last virtual Rose Retreat featured some amazing and inspirational women as speakers:
These are just a few of the amazing Black women on the internet. Show them some support by following and engaging with them. You’ll love them, trust me.
Find More Black-Owned Businesses to Support All Year
Supporting small, Black-owned businesses is such an effortless way to support the Black community. Etsy has hundreds of Black-owned shops that you can buy from. I’m excited to grab one of IgniteYourPeace’s SAGE THAT ISH™ soy candles and Pepper Palm’s Pynk and Dots vase!
Another note for White Allies: it’s important to support Black-owned businesses but DO NOT wear apparel with wording that refers to Black history in the first person. Show your support but tastefully.
Speak Out Against Racism
We’ve all had those shower thoughts of what you should’ve said in past arguments, but sometimes things catch you off guard and you don’t know what to say. An easy way around this is starting a memory back of what you would say in the event of a racist comment.
Racism is an uncomfortable topic for many who are non-confrontational by nature, including me, but something as simple as calling a person out for a racist comment goes a long way. Most of the time, they think they can get away with it when saying it to White people, but it’s up to us to change that and call them out no matter who’s around. Channel 3000 wrote an article targeting anti-racist allies on how to respond to racist comments and microaggressions that I use all the time!
Understand that Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter Movement can be triggering for the uneducated. People argue the concept of All Lives Matter but don’t understand that in order for all lives to matter, Black lives must matter too.
The BLM Movement isn’t saying only Black lives matter, but we’ve seen too many times, even in recent history, that the Black community is discriminated to the point that the murder of Black individuals was just a regular occurence covered in the news. No life is more valuable than the next which is exactly what BLM is trying to get people to understand.
Take Action and Donate if You Can
If you take anything away for this post, let it be this: don’t be a performative ally. Performative allyship is when someone says they’re an ally but do nothing to advocate for the group. Be an effective ally and create change.
There are so many ways you can elicit change for a marginalized group. Sometimes donating money isn’t an option, but you can donate your time to an event, sign petitions, contact your state representatives and more.
These are just a few ways to be an effective ally during BHM, but it’s important to continue making a change all year round!