Beyond Black History Month: Navigating the Complexities of Racial Awareness

In a society grappling with fever-pitch social violence, political hostility, and systemic threats to equality, it's not uncommon for individuals to harbor mixed feelings about Black History Month. The discomfort arises from a sense of hypocrisy – a dissonance between the month-long celebration and the pervasive issues that persist before and beyond February. 

While the significance of honoring Black history cannot be overstated, the question lingers – why confine this celebration to February when the remaining 11 months often bear witness to the devaluation of Black experiences and subordination of our brilliance? 

The lasting feeling of disconnection stemming from fear and trauma, intensified by the nation's collective forgetfulness, echoes with many. Despite this painful reality, cultivating racial awareness provides a route to healing. This awareness empowers us to rise above fear, cultivating a sense of belonging that reaches beyond the confines of racial boundaries. 

So what can you do to build racial awareness? Learn (and relearn) about your own racial history, both as a nation and in your own community.  Be curious about how your habits of mind and how you relate to race in your own life. Do your habits of mind lead to freedom or more distress? Your local library will have books and videos on any number of topics. It may even have copies of Mindful of Race! There is no lack of information available to you; there is a lack of commitment to learn and truly belong. Take the time to read the news about modern racial terror and think about what you can do in your community to help make it more welcoming and inclusive for all people. 

James Baldwin told us, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." Confronting uncomfortable truths and the traumatic history related to race is a necessary step toward creating positive change and fostering understanding. Black History Month is a crucial opportunity for reflection, celebration, and education for all races. This involves being aware of oneself, one's history, and the impact one has on social harmony.

True awareness and healing lie in transcending the confines of a designated month and embracing racial awareness as a continuous, lifelong practice. As we navigate the complexities of our shared history, we must strive to break free from delusions, cultivate empathy, and foster a collective sense of belonging that transcends racial divides. Only then can we hope to build a society that values and respects Black history every day of the year.

To deepen your understanding of your racial habits of mind and impact, I invite you to sign up for Mindful of Race 101

1 thought on “Beyond Black History Month: Navigating the Complexities of Racial Awareness”

  1. The truth of these comments couldn’t be any clearer. Thank you, Ruth King, for your wisdom and the work you do in “Brave Space”. It does take courage and bravery to look at and examine this topic just as it takes courage and bravery to turn the mirror or light around and look inward at oneself. Many Bows to You.

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