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Black history month and how to celebrate it in a pandemic

In the first installment of a two part series, Dolapo Agunbiade explores how we can commemorate Black History Month while staying indoors
‘Ma kpa mi lekun ooo’ painting by Shade Mawoyeka, image used with her permission

In these uncertain times, we have all been given the burden of figuring out how to navigate festive occasions. One that has recently come upon us is Black History Month. February is the US’s month of choice and the most mainstream – unlike Ireland’s festivities that takes place in October. However, that doesn’t mean that celebrations can’t extend to the rest of the world. 

People may ask, ‘What is the point?’ or ‘Why are they allowed to have designated times of the year?’ Black History month – also known as African History Month – is a time where we set aside Eurocentric teachings to learn about significant Black events and characters in history. Contrary to widespread belief, the month was not prescribed to victimise Black people but to take time out of the year to commend their efforts and contributions to society. 

Here are some ways you can mark the occasion from the comfort of your home.

Conversations

One major way you can join in this month is simply by talking. Topics that are deemed as taboo, such as race, should be discussed thoroughly throughout the month. Using social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter is a great way to spread awareness of racial bias and keeping these conversations alive. As American political activist Angela Davis once said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” 

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It should also be noted that these discussions should not be used as an opportunity to alleviate white guilt. Usually when race is brought up, numerous media outlets solely focus on negative aspects and as important as it is to talk about colourism and micro-aggressions, it is just as important to explore the brighter side of Black people’s experiences. 

Podcasts

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Another way to commemorate the month is by listening to podcasts. If you do not know how to instigate a conversation on racial injustice or inequality, then listening is key. By listening to Black experiences, you can deduct information from their stories and then share what you learnt with others. Apple and Spotify are awash with podcasts that delve into a myriad of topics and race is no exception. 

By listening to informative voices, you can get a better insight into what it means to be a minority from all corners of the globe. GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp and Black History Year are aptly named African American podcasts that reflect on Black heroes, the past and how far American society has progressed racially.

Some may claim that there is a disconnect between the racial climate in the United States and Ireland. However, podcasts such as Black and Irish, Where’s Your Head At? and Oh Man Podcast unveil the curtain of race related conflict that lies within the country.  

Literature

You can also celebrate the month by reading books and watching films that feature Black protagonists. By showing your support to Black endeavours, the demand for artistic works created by minorities increases. 

Thanks to technology, there is a wide scope of Black literature to admire across various platforms. The book Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri – based on Emma’s perception of growing up in Ireland as a mixed-race child while tackling the complexities of Black hair – can be found on iBooks, Amazon and other notable websites. 

As for films, this year Virgin Media’s Dublin International Film Festival will be held virtually. The line-up showcases a variety of Black talent, the most noteworthy being Lia Campbell’s short film To All My Darlings, a story of love, loss and community. 

Photo by Suzy Hazelwod on Pexels.com

These are just a few ways you can educate yourself and assist others this Black History Month. Nevertheless, the conversations don’t have to stop and start twice a year. In an online post about the month, Amanda Adè of the Black and Irish podcast stated, “being culturally responsive means acknowledging [Black] culture outside of dedicated holidays.” 

Check in with us again next week for more ways to support the Black community. 

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