We are pleased to bring you a guest post from National CASA’s diversity manager, Tracy Evans.
While Black History Month officially ends at 12:01 am on March 1, black history is something to be embraced and honored year-round. Awareness periods such as Black History Month offer special opportunities to celebrate the history, accomplishments, challenges and the uniqueness of communities that have historically been under-recognized. They also provide a chance to connect and engage with people from other races, ethnicities and cultures. Here are three suggestions:
- Step out of the boxes of your professional and formal associations and engage people you already know on a personal level. Invite them to a family gathering, to share a meal, to participate in a book club together or, perhaps, to try out a new hobby together. You may find that you have much in common, and even turn a colleague into a wonderful new friend.
- Be intentional about learning about people from a culture different than your own. Seek out information about the histories, contributions, accomplishments and plights of others through websites, documentaries, exhibits, artistic performances and cultural ceremonies, intergroup dialogue, university lectures, bookstore readings and even coalition-building groups. There are countless ways to learn about others. Pick what will work best for you.
- Volunteer in a different community to foster ties to others. It’s a great way to meet new people, and you’ll reap the internal rewards associated with being in service to others. Often, volunteering allows us the opportunity to see the world from a newer perspective, reconnects us to our gifts and reminds of us our own blessings.
While the concentrated effort to recognize the plight and contributions of black Americans happens during only one month of the year, it is important to remember that black history is not merely black history; it is also American history. Certainly, the stories of black Americans cannot be told in a month. With that in mind, make the effort to honor your own history and learn from the histories of others– not just for 28 days, but for 365! (Or, in this leap year, 366!)