YouthCare is proud to honor Black History Month and pay tribute to the incredible achievements of Black Americans, past and present.
As we celebrate our country’s rich history of Black leadership, YouthCare also recognizes that generations of racist attitudes and policies are woven into our systems and institutions—hurting us all in the process. Racism also impacts the young people we serve: approximately 80% of YouthCare’s clients last year were youth of color.
To serve our young people and help them thrive, and to create a just and flourishing community, we must be thoughtful in our intentions and in our deeds.
Let’s acknowledge and celebrate a rich history. The history of Black America is a story of triumph against numerous odds.
Below, we’re highlighting eight ways that you can join us in honoring Black history.
1: Visit the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle.
Spending time at NAAM in Seattle is an intimate way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culture and lived experience of Black Americans. Historical pieces of art offer powerful glimpses into the past and shed light on the present. They can educate us, inspire us, and enrich our own perspectives.
In addition to art exhibits, NAAM holds multiple events and activities throughout the year to engage the community. They’re also celebrating their 10th anniversary. Here are some great events coming up:
- February 16: Throwback Movie Night – Playing Malcolm X
- February 24: A Hymn to the Peoples: An Afro-Classical Concert
- February 28: Panel Discussion – Utopian Blackness: In the Mind of the Millennial
2: Accept the #ReadingBlackout Challenge: Read Books by Black Authors.
Read literature by Black authors. While you’re at it, read your children, nieces, and nephews books by Black authors, too. There are many cherished works of fiction and nonfiction that have broken boundaries, opened worlds, and paved the way for a more just and equitable society. The incredible storytelling from Black writers, poets, and artists empowers us to work toward that.
Here are some reading recommendations:
- The Color Purple, a novel by Alice Walker
- Becoming, a memoir by Michelle Obama
- An American Marriage, a novel by Tayari Jones
- If Beale Street Could Talk, a novel by James Baldwin
3: Watch Black Films and Documentaries
Watching films is a stimulating and entertaining way to support Black filmmakers and the Black community.
We are thankful for the many films that celebrate Black culture, traditions, and way of life. We’re also indebted to the many talented Black filmmakers who fearlessly tackle complex topics like racism, discrimination poverty, and violence.
The sheer number of worthy movies, shows, and documentaries make it almost impossible to scratch the surface. Here are some good ones to start:
- For Colored Girls, movie (Hulu, Amazon)
- Atlanta, television series (Hulu)
- 13th, documentary (Netflix)
- Paris is Burning, documentary (Netflix)
- Black Panther, movie (Netflix, select theatres)
4: Support Black-Owned Businesses
Just 2 cents of every dollar a Black American spends goes back into Black-owned businesses. Even with a collective buying power of 1.3 trillion US dollars, very little of that money stays in Black communities or goes toward Black businesses. Shop with intention by supporting Black-owned businesses and eating at local Black-owned restaurants.
Here are a few directories for Black-owned businesses in Seattle:
Here are some of our favorite Black-owned restaurants in Seattle:
5: Check Your Privilege
We all have a set of experiences that define who we are. We also have a set of stereotypes and preset bias that consciously or subconsciously impact how we move through the word and perceive others around us.
Privilege is often invisible: it can be hard to see all the ways we may benefit from having easier access or being afforded more opportunity. Yet while some benefit, others are denied. Understanding how the different parts of our identities intersect—our race, our gender, our ability, our age, our sexual orientation etc.—helps us better see privilege and undo oppression.
Become an ally to disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Be aware and reflect on your unconscious biases as you go about your day. Strive to be in authentic relationships with people who are different than you. Be curious and ask questions when you are given feedback.
6: Learn About #BlackLivesMatter
#BlackLivesMatter is a grassroots social justice cooperative focused on empowerment and liberation of Black and other people of color, led by Black femmes, women, queer and trans people. Learn more about the cause, get involved, and stay up-to-date about issues going on in our community.
Like and follow their Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/blmseattle/
7: Talk About It.
Take the opportunity to talk about racial and social injustices. Confront them, past and present. Challenge the oppressive systems that exist in our society. There are powerful opportunities to engage in meaningful discussion online, in the community, with our friends, family, and colleagues. Start a conversation with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, members of the community.
8: Commit to honoring Black History Month all year.
Special thanks to YouthCare’s Cultural Impact Committee for their contribution to this blog post.