Black History Month was established in 1926 as a valiant effort to tell the story of people of Black African slave descent in North America and the Caribbean whose 12 million ancestors were transported against their will to the Americas and the Caribbean where they were enslaved for more than three centuries. The story of survival and the outstanding contribution of Black people to all spheres of life is conspicuously absent from mainstream history books. Until that changes, we will need to have Black History Month.
It is important for all of us to understand how our shared history and our daily lives have been impacted by the history and contributions of Black Canadians.
Storytelling can be hard. It is uncomfortable to recount the acts of injustice, the cruelty of slavery and the complex issues of race relations. It is important to tell the story of Black people as it is intertwined with the story of all of us here in North America. And yes, telling the story of slavery is still relevant as we are living with the legacy of slavery.
The scourge of slavery has damaged all of us, Black and non-Black people. We are all caught up in the vices of systemic racism, ethnic privilege, unconscious bias, racial profiling, reverse racism, political correctness, to name a few.
The truth is descendants of African slaves continue to live under the veil of negative stereotypes and deprecating depictions of their history and culture.
Black History Month affords us the opportunity to identify deceptive beliefs about Black people and discuss how we may dismantle systemic racism where it exists and build a world that offers equal opportunity and justice for all people.
See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.