February and Forever.
Since 1995, Canada has made February Black History Month. This is a time to "honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities". The month features all sorts of celebrations and actions, but to try to bring even more meaning to the month, a theme is chosen each year.
For Black History Month in 2022, the theme is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day.
Maybe this sounds just like a catchy slogan. But it is actually pointing towards a really important challenge in all activism.
Sustaining, or keeping that movement going.
Make it more than a moment
In our society, we have many days, weeks, and even months of recognition and awareness. Earth Day. International Women's Week. Asian Heritage Month. These—and so many other—events play important roles in highlighting issues that can get lost within daily life. A moment of recognition is about saying, "Hey, don't forget about this, it's important!" Or saying, "We see you! And we want to celebrate you!"
This is always a good idea. But what happens when that moment of recognition is over? How do you get people to continue to care and pay attention? Many Black activists point out that while Black History Month is important, it can also feel like it is the only time that people are paying attention.
That is the potential drawback of moments of recognition. Though they generate a lot of good and sincere attention, people easily become distracted and forget as the days move on.
Slow, steady, and sincere
So what is the solution? If you're thinking about how to address issues within a day or a month, then it can feel like an impossible challenge. But that is the point of the phrase February and Forever. It's not just about one month.
It's about a lifetime of learning and building trust. It's about conversation and listening and reading and working with others. In that way, Black History Month is a yearly spark to remind us of the fire of awareness that we all need to tend to. That kind of reminder is important! But there's no reason why you can't throw a log on that fire in June. Or September. Or whenever!
Whether your own fire is burning proudly year round or could use some kindling, here are some links to reading about Black stories, past and present, within Canada and beyond!
Here is a list of great books to read on Black history and experiences.
Learn about the brand new Hockey Diversity Alliance.
We love this conversation with Toronto teacher Alicia Dyson on being anti-racist.
The amazing Marley Dias will definitely inspire you!