Today officially begins the first day of Black History Month. And while this is a time when the media and various companies utilize the recognition of African Americans and their contributions to our country (and the world), it also can be looked upon as taking advantage of this huge month by “using” it to show support of diversity. Black History Month and its message shouldn’t just be during the month of February, but all year around. Brands and companies, please take note.
I love it when I see companies embracing diversity and speaking about it all during the entire year. Not that I have expectations that it will be done in every commercial and every campaign—I like it when it feels real. Not, “hey, look at us! We are talking about diversity!” It should be authentic and true and not forced or contrived.
I do respect and recognize and give props to companies that do make it a point to celebrate Black History Month. But I want them to do that all year long. It should be a message of supporting diversity even when it’s not the “hot thing to do” at that moment.
Here’s a back story on why I feel this way:
Being an African American that was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, I was often the only person of color in the room. It never was an issue or a problem—we played together, we laughed together. It wasn’t until one of the parents of one of my friends said no to them being able to come to my slumber party because we were “those people” did the issue of race even come into play in my world. That statement hurt me, but I promised that it would not deter me from being friends with people who didn’t look like me. Just because one person felt that way didn’t mean everyone that looked liked them did. It was a hard lesson, but is one I will never forget.
I will never truly know why this parent felt the way they did. But I knew that I wanted my children to not go through what I went through. And that meant educating them about all ethnicity types and backgrounds. As a parent, this is important in their development.
Diversity doesn’t have to be ignored or made into a taboo subject. Actually, it can be quite fun. One of my best friends does not look like me at all, but we have fun discussing our differences culturally. I think we can learn so much from one another when it’s not something forced, but done because we truly want to learn about one another. I want to embrace everyone, no matter their color or creed. That is what Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream was all about!
So, yes, let’s celebrate Black History Month and the positive message it sends. But let’s keep in in our hearts and minds all throughout the year.
Here are some ways to help spread the message of diversity year ’round:
- Don’t be afraid to talk about it. It’s fine! And it’s refreshing. Don’t assume you know someone based on their skin color. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper.
- Attend events and exhibits at museums that are focused on diversity and different cultures. When’s the last time you went to the museum to learn about a different culture.
- Utilize your local library to check out books on this subject.
- Encourage your friends and family to do so as well.
- Attend local theater productions or community plays about African Americans and other cultures.
Remember, we are all in this together!