Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Closing Thoughts on Black History Month 2022!!

Dr. G’s 2022 Black History Month Reflections*

“Considering the past, living in the present, preparing for the future…”  ~Dr. G

This above thought has been something that I am always thinking about, but especially during Black History Month. So much of what I and my ancestors experienced plays a huge role in who I am, what I do, and my next steps. With all of the recent discussions about critical race theory, book bans and changing curriculums (just to name a few) normalizing the conversations about Black History Month are needed now more than ever.

Sadly, there are still those who continue to say and believe that Black History Month is not needed or even feel that they should have the choice to have their children opt out of Black History Month lessons…yet many Black and Brown students experience mental trauma and abuse in and outside of their classrooms on a daily basis (that’s another post). But I digress and say to those naysayers once again my response is it is very much needed especially now!! And let me further back up this statement from the father of Black History himself Carter G. Woodson as he states that the legacy of Black History Month (originally named ‘Negro History Week”) was never meant to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.” In other words, it was always meant to evolve from a week to a month, to everyday dialogue!!

Reflecting on that pushback, I am reminded of why Black History is necessary every time I step foot in my class and a student tells me “I’m their first Black professor…” or when they learn about Black icons like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ella Baker, or Essex Hemphill and they leave my class amazed and yearning for more because this is the first time that they have even heard their names mentioned. In an almost perfect place, I would love to live in a society where Black history, culture, experiences, literature, music, and more are part of the curriculum, particularly K-12, sadly this is still a struggle. However, the journey continues!!

For some, Black History Month serves as a time to face the past, but at the same can be a time of celebration and joy. And while the past has its dark moments, we are not permanently fixed during that time! As I often tell my students, sometimes we have to sit in the discomfort and process it…sometimes we have to sit in the discomfort and ask the hard questions and also listen to the responses that follow…sometimes we have to sit in the discomfort and think about the ways in which we can grow from it…We have to move from seeing Black History Month as an item that we can check off of our to-do list, or as some form of punishment (can’t see how that would be the case, unfortunately some do feel this way) and see it as a time to expand on our existing knowledge, while learning to build community.

This year, I came into celebrating Black History with a little more optimism partly due to this year’s theme, “Black Health and Wellness”!! (To know more about how each theme is selected see here .) The amazing thing about health and wellness is that it comes in many forms, whether it is scheduling time with a therapist, implementing an exercise regimen, taking time out for self-care, walking your dog, spending time with family and friends, taking a cultural excursion, and so much more! For African Americans, highlighting our health and wellness is essential to the mind, body, and soul! As noted by the Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at USC School of Dramatic Arts, “Black joy is the heartbeat and pulse of our survival, our resiliency, our perseverance, our health and wellbeing.”  Despite the struggles that African Americans have and continue to face when it comes to healthcare and wellness, we still persevere!! We are resilient!! So, with that said I charge you with the task of finding that joy through health and wellness!! And while you are at it, take some time to discover the many ways in which African Americans have contributed to the world of health and wellness.

Now you know I cannot let you go without sharing some goodies!! Just in case you need some additional reading (or you want to update your list) materials check out these reading and viewing lists to help keep the spirit of Black History going even after February has ended!

As another February comes to a close, remember Black History Month is another opportunity to continuously learn and grow! Even amidst all that is happening, knowing that I can reflect on the many experiences and achievements of Black folks always gives me a sense of joy and pride!

~Dr. G

*As previously posted with Happy Mama Happy Mini

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!, On The Radar, Resources

“You Get Me!!” Corporate Businesses Nailing Black History Month!!

Going into Black History Month every year I’m always mixed with emotions. On one hand it’s an exciting time to highlight the experiences of Black people, but then I am suddenly on edge seeing what things are specifically set to come out in February because its Black History Month. As I have said many times before this celebratory effort is one that happens 365-24/7, especially considering I am a professor in an African American Studies department.

Nevertheless, I must say things are getting better and the efforts made from various organizations/corporations are evolving (despite ones who still miss the mark). And because “sharing is caring” I wanted to make sure I highlighted a few businesses that are putting in the work and who really get me!! Check them out below:

  • Target: One of my favorite brands and a place where I do not mind spending my coins is Target. They have been consistently spotlighting black talent and not just in February!! In its eighth year, Target presents “Black Beyond Measure,” which includes a limited-time assortment of apparel, accessories and home goods designed by Black creators along with highlighting Black-owned brands sold at the retailer.
NEW @ TARGET * BLACK HISTORY MONTH - YouTube
Photo credit: Target YouTube
  • Old Navy: The clothing brand has partnered with three talented Black artists — Temi Coker, Lo Harris and Destiny Darcel — to create Project WE t-shirts centered around their love for the Black community and culture. Project WE is a collaboration between diverse artists and includes a donation of $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in support of youth arts programs. They are also donating $50,000 to support the 15% Pledge, a growing platform that calls on major retailers to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
Check Out Old Navy's Black History Month Tees | POPSUGAR Fashion
Black creatives (l-r) Temi Coker, Lo Harris and Destiny Darcel
  • Amazon Launchpad: This program is celebrating Black innovators and the stories behind their businesses throughout Black History Month by highlighting an array of brands on its various platforms.
Amazon.com: Amazon Launchpad: Celebrate Black History Month
  • Nordstrom: For 2022, Nordstrom is celebrating Black History Month through a variety of initiatives everything from spotlighting Black-founded brands to celebrating culture through personal stories. They will also honor Black food culture by featuring recipes by Spice Suite founder Angel Gregorio at the store’s specialty coffee bars. Additionally, the retailer has committed to increasing Black and Latino representation among its managers by at least 50%, delivering $500 million in retail sales from Black and/or Latino-owned brands and increasing charitable donations to organizations that promote anti-racism to $1 million every year by 2025.
Nordstrom Rack: Shop Clothes, Shoes, Jewelry, Beauty and Home
  • Peloton: Through uplift, celebration and empowerment Peloton is highlighting the “magnetic energy of the Black diaspora that breaks boundaries and moves us forward.” This is done through themed classes, special artist series, and for a third year they launched a special apparel line featuring the work of designer Erwin Hines. Peloton will also mark Black History Month with a charitable contribution of $100,000 – to support the development of a community wellness center in Chicago’s South Side. They are partnering with Claretian Associates, an organization with deep ties to the neighborhood.
Peloton Has Released A New Apparel Collection In Celebration Of Black  History Month - 29Secrets
Peloton’s new Black History Month apparel line
  • Victoria’s Secret PINK: The beauty and fashion brand has partnered with We The Urban founder Willie Greene to release an exclusive “Pink x We The Urban” gender-free one-size tee (this has been an annual effort). In addition, PINK is donating $50,000 to the Black and Pink organization that is dedicated to transforming the lives of system-impacted LGBTQIA2S+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS.
WE THE URBAN
  • Apple: The tech giant is spotlighting Black business and innovation while also amplifying Black voices through a multitude of its platforms and specially curated collections. Some of these include, Apple Maps where users can learn about Black history or discover Black-owned businesses through curated Guides; their Shot on iPhone campaign, “Our Stories,” features portraits and video of four pioneers who are at the nexus of Black history The company also launched a special edition Apple Watch “Black Unity Braided Solo Loop” watch that features matching unity lights on the face of the watch. It gets its inspiration from the “Afrofuturism,” framework, which explores the Black and African diasporic experience through a narrative of science, technology and self-empowerment.
Apple spotlights Black voices during Black History Month - Apple
Apple’s 2022 Black History Month theme

These businesses get me!!

What I can also really appreciate about these businesses is that many if not all have year-round efforts, and are making sure Black creatives and talents are getting their shine!! It’s really important that you do more than just sign a check (no complaints here), but that you make a full on investment of the talent!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Black History Month in the Workplace!!

So earlier this week I gave a workshop presentation on celebrating Black History Month in the workplace, nothing like finding new ways to incorporate new experiences in your daily routine. And I just wanted to make sure I shared some resources from that talk just in case it may be useful for my followers!!

Why BHM is Important in The Workplace? “Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger.”

  • Race can be complicated, but we have to engage and talk about the comforts and discomforts
  • Reimagine the possibilities
  • Normalize what has been often made invisible
  • Opportunity for active learning
  • Another way to regularly incorporate inclusivity, equity, and work towards eliminating bias
  • Black History is American History even World History!!
  • A continued engagement with history and the Black experience and helps to give context for the present and future
  • February can be the starting point to year-round efforts
Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

#BlackHistory365 ideas that can be implemented in the workplace…

  • Bring in speakers (This is a chance to learn and gain new perspectives from others outside of your office.)
  • Organize a thematic book club (Monthly or Quarterly….You can also carry this out in February as well as other months such as Women’s History and Hispanic Heritage Month)
  • Virtual cooking session (Swap recipes, select a region and do a virtual potluck, create a “Culinary Journey Passport”)
  • Create a digital board for continuous learning and growth (Slack has become a popular tool that can be used here!)
  • Community Service/Volunteer (You can never have enough community service, and now there are multiple ways to carry out this endeavor!)
  • Promote Inclusion via Reflection-Collaboration-Recognition
  • Organize/create a Black History Internet Scavenger Hunt that uses questions that pertain to African American people and moments
Photo by JorgeArturo Andrade on Pexels.com

Next Steps to #BlackHistory365

  • In addition to the collective effort, think about what YOU can do. … What is your contribution?
  • What role can you play? Invest in your efforts!!
  • Pay it forward.
  • Create safe spaces…The energy and creativity will flow when people feel as though it is welcomed and appreciated!
  • Think before you post and act..Make sure your efforts are genuine. Learn and grow because you want to, not just to check off a box. Do your research…Remember why you are celebrating
  • Don’t play the buzzword and pandering game (Avoid situations like Bath and Body )
  • Ask the hard questions…that’s how you get answers and learn at the same time.
  • Play the long game…How can Black History Month transform and evolve into #BlackHistory365 in your place of work??

And for the road…Some additional resources, recommendations, and guides…

The great thing about all of this is that it can many things in one FUN, INFORMATIVE, ENGAGING and UPLIFTING!

For additional information and resources, check out the full guide here!!

Posted in Holiday Celebration!!

Happy New Year!! Welcome 2022!!

It’s 2022 and I welcome you with open arms! Another year to revise and edit, change the game plan, create a new vision, and improve on existing ventures!!

Remember you are the author your book, so let’s start cranking out those chapters!!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

“I hope you realize that every day is a fresh start for you. That every sunrise is a new chapter in your life waiting to be written.” ~Juansen Dizon