Every February marks an important time to acknowledge, educate, and celebrate the legacy of Black people in Canada. This month we talked to The Grove’s EDIIR and Outreach Coordinator, Brianna Martey to get her perspective on Black History Month. Here is what she had to say!
My name is Bri, and I serve as the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenous Reconciliation Coordinator at Grove Hubs. In my role, I am dedicated to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for youth from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experiences across all our sites. I actively incorporate youth voices into my work to ensure that they are not only seen and heard but also represented in their everyday lives.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
To me, Black History Month is a moment for reflection and an opportunity to acknowledge how far we've progressed. Rather than dwelling solely on the adversities that Black individuals have endured, it's a time to recognize the remarkable achievements they've accomplished despite facing obstacles and barriers. Black History Month, for me, is a celebration—a chance to revel in being authentically myself without reservation.
I believe that every day should embody the spirit of Black History Month because no one should have to wait for a designated time to express their true selves. Unfortunately, in the world we inhabit, individuals like myself often encounter barriers to unapologetic self-expression. Black History Month provides a platform for me, as well as all Black individuals and allies, to embrace radical self-love and allow the world to celebrate our excellence together.
Why is it so important to acknowledge Black History Month?
It's crucial to recognize the significance of Black History Month, particularly considering the history of hate and brutality that Black individuals have endured in North America. This designated month provides us with an opportunity to engage in critical reflection, honouring the struggles and triumphs of Black individuals who came before us and those who will follow. By taking this time to reflect, we can actively contribute to our own growth and education, fostering a deeper understanding of Black history and its ongoing impact.
Black History Month also serves as a platform for Black individuals to express themselves authentically, showcasing their accomplishments and talents. It offers a rare opportunity for them to take center stage and be celebrated for their contributions to society.
How should someone who is non-Black participate in Black History Month?
Non-Black individuals, regardless of their racial or ethnic identity, can actively participate in celebrating Black History Month in various meaningful ways. One approach is to amplify Black voices and highlight their achievements, thereby ensuring that they are not overshadowed by the majority. Supporting Black-owned businesses is another tangible way to contribute positively to the Black community.
Moreover, it's essential for individuals to take responsibility for their own education and enlightenment. Rather than relying on Black individuals to reiterate past traumas for the sake of education, it is imperative to seek out authentic historical narratives and diverse perspectives. This proactive approach avoids the dehumanization that can result from repeatedly revisiting painful experiences. Engaging in self-directed learning enables individuals to gain a deeper understanding of Black history and culture, thereby fostering more meaningful conversations and interactions with Black individuals, if they choose to engage in such discussions.
Are there any initiatives or activities taking place at The Grove to acknowledge Black History Month?
At the Grove, we have organized several programming activities to foster meaningful conversations during Black History Month. Our initiatives include movie nights featuring films with predominantly Black casts or themes centred around Black history. Additionally, we've planned a creative activity where youth will contribute to a quilt (on paper), with each piece showcasing influential Black individuals from history along with a brief narrative about them.
To support our staff in facilitating discussions and conducting their own research, we've provided education cards and resources focused on Black history in Canada and the Wellington County area. This initiative aims to empower staff members to engage confidently in conversations and deepen their understanding of Black history.
For more information on Black History Month, head to the Government of Canada website here: www.canada.ca/en/black-history-month