We’re ending this month like we began it – by telling you how much we love black history month. We know just as well as you do that black history happens all year and is celebrated all year, but the month of February is particularly special because it always give us the opportunity to highlight our contributions to society. We always hope for monumental progress for people of color, but this month we actually got some! We saw so many different representations of ourselves and our worth in mainstream media, and while we were reminded that the black experience is far from monolithic, black people as a whole (minus Stacey Dash) were committed to confronting and tackling diversity and inclusion issues all month long. As such, we could not pass up the chance to acknowledge a few of the things that occurred during BHM 2016 to encourage us to keep fighting the good fight.
Here are the highlights of some of the great things that happened this past month:
- Our arguably favorite young, black quarterback not only earned the crown as the 2015 Most Valuable Player in the NFL, but he also advanced to the Super Bowl and when challenged about who he is and how he does his job (read: too black), he refused to apologize and vowed to win his way. #StillDabbing
- Beyoncé dropped more music without notice and then took her pro-black message into the homes of millions of Americans when she performed during the Super Bowl half-time show, saluting the Black Panthers, reminding us that she’s woke and inciting a national discussion about black culture. #Formation
- Stanley Nelson directed, and PBS aired, a moving documentary about the Black Panther Party for self-defense, explaining why the party was not only misunderstood, but necessary – and as necessary in the 1960s as it is today.
- After being shut out of Grammy nominations in 2014, Kendrick Lamar took home four Grammys for his socially conscious music. K.Dot (one of our nicknames for Kendrick) also had one of the most significant, powerful, and woke Grammy performances we’ve seen in a long time that began with him shackled in chains and ended with a bonfire and symbolic, heated flames blazing while he captivated the audience with his race and performed this year’s Best Rap Song “Alright.”
- ABC aired an episode of ‘black-ish that revealed the internal dialogue of what it’s like to be black in America during this time of racial unrest and tension between minorities and law enforcement who are paid to protect us (again, not all police are bad but the devaluation of black lives has been systematic and inherent in the very justice system that is sworn to protect all Americans).
- President Obama did and said some things that only President Obama could do:
- Like when he reaffirmed his faith in the American people to exercise their right to vote.
- And his love for soul-music in honor of the last In Performance of his administration.
- And to top it all off, he nominated the first black, female librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. If confirmed, she will be the first woman and the first African American to hold this position.
- The Supreme Court found herself with a vacancy that creates the possibility that there will be less 5-4 decisions that result in setting minorities back for centuries at a time.
- Melissa Harris-Perry stood up against the media machine and refused to be a part of a network that silenced her political voice, and the voice of Black America. In doing so, she crafted a poignant and direct letter to her fan base, publicly affirming her worth, uniqueness, and valuable contributions to both the network and industry.
- While black actors were not recipients of the industry’s highest honor, Hollywood and the Academy were forced to take an introspective look at past nominees and address #OscarsSoWhite and critique about the lack of diversity within the profession. And Chris Rock so eloquently told Hollywood that it is “Sorority racist.” “It’s like, ‘[w]e like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.'”
Shoot…Stacey Dash even wished everyone a Happy Black History month! We see the irony, but we have to appreciate that while mountains may not have moved (yet), the mainstream discourse surrounding Black Americans shifted in our favor this February.
More than anything, this black history month taught us that we deserve to exist, to be equal and should value ourselves. It restored faith in being black and unapologetic. And if corporate America can’t get on, then we should consider other options like Melissa Harris Perry. Because we are so brilliant in our own right, because there are better opportunities out there, and most of all, because we have to show our future daughters how to stand in their truth and in formation…and dab on ‘em a little bit.
February 2016, we salute you!