It’s Black History Month and, without any shadows of any doubt, take away the multitude of contributions to science, medicine, music and art, activism, let alone the back and soul crushing labor (voluntary and otherwise) of black people, America would not be the country that she is today. While black history is worthy of acknowledgement year round, February serves as the official month recognize and celebrate a people’s rich and diverse narrative as well as fully embrace it as American history.
But this Black History Month falls upon us during the strangest of times; having elected a president with a knack for making half of the nation feel as if it doesn’t belong while some of the most marginalized fear for their basic rights and dignities, the country feels as if it’s on the brink of something revolutionary – for the better or worse.
So while this unprecedented chapter of America’s story plays itself out, let’s not allow the importance of these 28 days elude us. Be it via documentary, film, the internet or accomplished black voices in media, here are four ways to engage, learn and discover during Black History Month:
Ava DuVernay (Selma, Queen Sugar) tackled the all too real reality of modern day, government sanctioned slavery – also known as the 13th Amendment – its history, its ramifications, its ugly role in our very faulty criminal justice system and the business of the American prison industry. Now if you think “13th” is merely some left-wing, bleeding heart liberal passion project, you would be woefully mistaken: DuVernay enlists politicians (Republican and Democratic), historians, activists, journalists and history, itself, to expose the truth of mass incarceration and its effect on the country’s black population.
Starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, Loving is the real life story of Richard and Mildred Loving who, in 1967, took their love all the way to the Supreme Court and fought for the right to be married to one another. The result was the Loving v Virginia ruling which made interracial marriage legal in these United States. Some love stories can change the world, indeed.
Don’t let the name fool you. Created by Jamie Broadnax (yes, a black woman), BlackGirlNerds.com is truly “…a website for every nerdy girl that can finally come out of the closet and tell the world that they are PROUD to be who they are” regardless of color. When nerddom and geekdom became a “thing,” women had a time of it carving out their place in an overwhelmingly male-dominated social realm. The intersection of nerd-dom, geekdom, women and black women? Well, now that was just crazy talk. With a broad range of areas of interest to nerd out on from movies and television, books, fan conventions and even a podcast, BlackGirlNerds is a neat little (not so little anymore) niche site that’s built a community of women embracing their nerdiness and representing.
Oh Joy. Literally. During the election cycle there was a small pool of cable news correspondents who – due to their sharp intelligence, rational thought processes, integrity and ability to distinguish facts from alternative facts – gave us hope that humanity might be salvageable. MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid swam deeply in that small pool with her show, AM Joy. A Harvard educated journalist Reid is masterful at in-depth, topical discussions and analysis. Exhibit A: