Join us in celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the histories and amplifying the voices of Black leaders, inventors, activists, artists, freedom fighters, speakers, and thinkers whose courage and excellence helped pave the way to a brighter future for our youth and the world.
Honoring Black history, and its impacts, is particularly poignant during this historical moment. In 2020, we witnessed a global unveiling of the very current and deeply pervasive realities of racial injustice. And in response, millions of people from all over the world took to the streets to proudly affirm Black Lives Matter.
Though the road ahead in the fight for social justice is long, Friends-SF remains committed and will continue to do the difficult work of dismantling the overt and subtle legacies of oppression. Setting up a standard of equity from the inside out, we are taking action to ensure we are standing up for our staff of color and the children and families we serve. Until all our youth can look forward to a dignified future. One where equality is not elusive.
Here are a few meaningful ways to celebrate Black History:
Recognize the numerous contributions and influences of Black people every month and every day of the year.
Amplify Black voices and ensure that the powerful rally for Black lives remains a movement and not a moment.
Support local Black-owned businesses. You can find a directory of Black-owned businesses in San Francisco here.
Commit to strengthening the next generation of leaders to take the baton and carry on the fight for freedom.
A few things to keep in mind when supporting a generation to endure and overcome the difficult obstacles that remain in fight for justice*:
Tell them the truth. Often, we like to shield our youth from the harsh realities of life. But with today’s technology that gives them fast access to information, it’s impossible to hide what’s happening. Have “the talk” with youth as soon as possible. Our youth know something is wrong. They see the injustice and unfair advantages. By age 4, most youth can recognize unfair treatment based on skin color. Have conversations about race, racism, privilege, bias, and the harsh history of America. If you don’t have the words, the best ways to communicate to children, especially younger children, is through books. Here's a sample list of 31 books created by The Conscious Kid and American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Start with the end in mind. What future would you like to see for you and the children in your life? What are the aspirations of your children, nieces, nephews, or mentees? Talk about how you can collectively work on building that future with them, their friends, and community. Be sure to discuss some of the struggles, disappointments, and barriers that may be involved in getting to that expected end and the skills and strategy needed to overcome them.
Unlearn to relearn. Most people are recovering from years of miseducation. Black history is not properly taught in schools, some people are taught that their skin color makes them superior or inferior, and the realities of racism are ignored. Sometimes you must take a moment to reset and approach liberation for all mankind with more informed lenses.
Celebrate those who endure tough times. There are so many examples of young leaders and freedom fighters who are breaking glass ceilings and charting a path forward for future generations. Celebrate these people today. Young leaders like Mari Copeny, Robbie Novak (a.k.a. Kid President), Jess Guilbeaux, Marley Dias and countless others are creating a brighter more equitable world now and will for years to come. Also, here’s a great starter list that highlights a few more leaders.
Lead by example. One thing for certain and two things for sure, children watch your every move. If they see you aren’t actively standing up for the causes of justice, then why should they? So many communities have been harmed not only by the actions of the aggressor but by the inactions of those who could have done something. Challenge yourself to go above and beyond what you normally do during Black History Month. Break away from your normal “go-to’s”. If you are going to reach back, study Malcolm X, listen to Nina Simone, glean from James Baldwin, and take a journey with Fannie Lou Hammer.
As we honor and celebrate Black History Month, keep this in mind — we often hear that children are our future, but they’re also our present. Let’s continue to guide them, protect them, and equip them so that they can march on and build an equitable future for all.
*Adopted from a statement released by Benjamin Carlton, Chief Equity officer at Friends of the Children.