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“May their stories of courage in the face of adversity motivate us to continue challenging racism.”

“May their stories of courage in the face of adversity motivate us to continue challenging racism.”

Senator Donald Oliver (Debates - Issue 34 - Feb 2008)

Welcome, February - Black History Month.

There is a duality in this month of recognition. We come together to celebrate the many profound and impactful contributions of a culture that has been continuously oppressed - historically and present-day; both overtly and systemically - while at the same time generally omitting these valuable people from our daily appreciation of cultural empowerment.

Let us make a concerted effort to celebrate not only this month but every month, the amazing ways that multiple heritages contribute to the success of humanity within and across nations.

Some assert that there should not be a Black History Month because every day, every celebration, every ‘month’ has been supremely enriched by the culture only formally acknowledge when it seems convenient. However, this celebratory month - fought for and acknowledged throughout the last hundred years - was only finally, officially and unanimously approved by the House of Commons in Canada in 2008. The journey was long and arduous. Therefore, it should not be shunned.

Senator Donald Oliver looked at this month as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on an ongoing situation that needs to be acknowledged. It is a great opportunity to regroup and focus on presenting solutions that can be implemented throughout the year; a time, much like the new year, to dream big, get creative, and set resolutions to be accomplished by the following year. During this focused month of recognition, Senator Donald Oliver said,

“I always welcome Black History Month as a time to look to solutions to end discrimination. My continuing goal is to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of colour, have access to the same chance to learn, advance and lead in Canadian society.” Debates - Issue 34 - Feb 2008

Senator Donald Oliver was a brilliant man and his empowering words should be shared over and over again. Black History Month is a great opportunity to reflect, plan, and launch our nation and all of humanity toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equal representation of history; past, present, and future. It provides a chance to celebrate now, and every month, the contributions of our founders, regardless of the socially created concepts of race or ethnicity, but aware of the value that each heritage provides.

This month, a light is shone on a community that has persevered through tyranny and exploitation while continuously rising to the challenges that each generation yields. It is the perfect time to remind yourself to listen, read, learn, and become involved in the movements toward equality that last the whole year-round.

Books, such as This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on how to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work (Inspired Reading Review coming Feb 9th), provide an abundance of actionable resources to guide us on our journey. The tips provided include calls to action, insightful journal prompts, and further resources for additional learning and personal development. It is everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge and respect both the differences and similarities within and between our shared cultures. What better time to re-examine our place in the world than here and now?

Welcome, February - Black History Month.


Excerpt of 2008 Debate:

“Carter Woodson [who initially put forth the notion of Black History Week] felt that by encouraging people to learn more about Black history, Blacks would be proud of their heritage. He also hoped that it would eliminate prejudice. He saw Black History Week as a unifying force.

He said:

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the "Negro in history." What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate and religious prejudice.

Black History Month in Canada is essential since it educates Canadians. Few Canadians know that slavery once existed in Canada, or that many of the British Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution were Black. They do not know that segregation was accepted in Canada well into the 1960s. It is a reminder to all Canadians that racism is not a matter just of the past.

Today, racism manifests itself in the racially unequal workforce, taking the shape of unequal income, discriminatory remarks and the glass ceiling. In light of these challenges, Black History Month is essential to maintain and strengthen the Black community. The narratives of exceptional individuals, like Portia White, Dr. William P. Oliver and so many others, are testimonials of our strength.” Debates - Issue 34 - Feb 2008

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