I love that every February I can expect to learn a little about Black History [at my church]: that as a white woman I have to do a little thinking about how Black History matters to me; why I need to invest some time and energy into really understanding who else is filling the pews; pouring coffee; making plans in meeting rooms, every week.
When Black History month arrives I remember that we are a church that chooses diversity on purpose. I remember the awkward feeling in my gut that doesn't know how to
If I listen hard to my gut, I know that I have a little more in me to give than a dedicated applause....
If you are white, think about how good it feels to really have someone pay attention to your heart. How great it feels to be celebrated. Imagine letters in the mail; cards that detail why you matter. Imagine someone putting a little extra effort in to learning about your life: taking you on a tour of the neighborhood your grew up in; wanting to explore the landscape of your life; your history; your heart.
If you don't have too many skeletons in your closet, it would likely feel good....even for the humble at heart.
Celebration is key to great relationships; central to building successful diverse spaces. Appreciation can sustain someone who is tired, fed up, near the end of their rope. Personally, it is key to how I want to be in community. And it is what I want to give to the people in my community.
And so how do I do that during Black History Month? Knowing that I choose diversity on purpose? Knowing that I choose this community? Know that all of our lives matter; that every filled seat in the sanctuary is occupied with someone with a complex and beautiful history? How do I celebrate Black history?
I have thought hard about it. Here are some things that I think I can do:
*have a Black History Month tea party in my home. Bravely and/or awkwardly admit that I might not know a lot of Black History. Let that humility be my starting place.
*write a letter of support to my local newspaper when they feature articles relevant to Black History. Applaud the effort and invite them to include
Black History in any/all pieces relevant to social history. (if you want to do this too but can't afford a stamp, come find me....!)
*write a Band-Aid company. Ask them why they only make band-aids in pinkish tones. (see note above re. stamps)
*encourage my local public library to expand their Black History collection.
*Identify as an ally to my friends and co-workers and volunteers of colour. Admit that I might not have a lot of experience dealing with racism but that if they encountered it, I would want to help them out; prevent it from happening again. Follow through.
*Identify as an anti-racist ally to my white friends, co-workers and volunteers. Admit that I might not have a lot of experience dealing with racism but that if I witness it in their presence I am committed to challenging it; preventing it from happening again. Follow through.
*encourage the people in my life who are financially stable to "Pay the Mortgage" for one day during the month of February. Ask them to let the publishers of Sunday News know that they are doing so in celebration of Black History Month and MCC-T's commitment to diversity.
*post my workplace anti-discrimination policy in a prominent space.
*call or visit a non-for-profit agency that works with immigration issues. Ask them to tell me about Canada's immigration policies. Invite them to talk about racism. Ask them how they think I might be able to help change the reality of racism in Canadian immigration policy. Believe in their response and do something.
*when I see racist graffiti/billboards/ad campaigns, tell someone to remove it. Go back the next day to make sure the job got done.
*read an article or check out a website relevant to Black History. Pass it on to at least 3 people.
*applaud a little harder in church when I notice that there is a sincere celebration of diversity happening.... at the very least....
Again, I love this church and look forward to hearing your thunderous
applause during Black History Month...again, at the very least.
Oh - wanna come to my tea party?