Is enough being done for Black History Month?


Joshua Ahn from Educative

Aneeqa Meah, Opinions Writer

As Sara Clarke Kaplan, executive director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, puts it “There is no American history without African American history.”


Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, first came to be around fifty years after slavery was abolished. Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the organization known today as the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), which sponsored “Negro History” week. This event became celebrated in schools and communities until mayors of cities proclaimed it as a holiday of sorts. President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month in 1976.


This month is meant to celebrate the culture and history of Black people. It is meant to amplify Black voices and to address how Black people have thrived regardless of the racism and systemic oppression that many faced and are facing.


But as the years have progressed, has this month really been about recognizing Black voices, or has it just become another money grab for large corporations?


Companies and brands put on big shows of alignment with the Black History Month cause, without acknowledging the fact that they’re inconsistent with their statements. For example, during Black History Month in 2020, Google released a short, inspiring video, “The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History”. However, Google doesn’t reflect their alignment with the Black community in their hiring practices with “only 3.7 percent of Google employees in 2020 identified as Black, a number that has barely increased over 1 percent since 2015,” according to Statista.


Along with these contradicting statements, many companies somehow often forget that while celebrating Black History Month, Black people are meant to be given the platform.


TikTok hosted a Black History Month event over Zoom, featuring Nicki Minaj on February 8 at 6 PM EST. However, Dessy Joseph and many other Black TikTok influencers that were invited, allege that the Zoom was non-black dominated and how some Black creators did not even receive the link to join until after 6 PM.


“I don’t see how inviting a celebrity or creating an event last minute and sending the invites to people who aren’t Black makes sense for a Black History Month event,” said TikTok creator Erick Louis, who was not invited to the event. An event that many Black creators anticipated turned out to become a negative experience where non-Black creators took up space for an event that was primarily for them.


To better accommodate the Black community, Erick Louis has also said, “TikTok needs to do something as simple as making sure that this space caters to them in a way where they feel safe, comfortable, and are given the space to talk and voice their feelings or concerns or simply their joy or their excitement to be there.”


To truly honor Black lives this month in the right way, large companies and corporations should make year-round changes to their business. Diversity and inclusivity in their boardrooms and redistributing funds to Black communities are some valid options that these businesses could take.


Without any year-round change, do these gestures during this month amount to anything?