How to Celebrate Black History Month in a Meaningful Way – The Cowl

How to Celebrate Black History Month in a Meaningful Way

Ashley Seldon’24

Once February rolls around, many companies start launching their Black History Month “collections” or collaborations. Target will dedicate a section of its app and store to the black-owned businesses they sell, or brands will include more diverse faces in their ads. Other retailers like Michaels will clear an aisle to sell “black art” sets for the month. The History Channel is doing its part by airing various Martin Luther King documentaries or Malcolm X films. While these visual celebrations are valuable and honest first steps in uplifting black businesses and recognizing the existence of the month, there are more meaningful ways to celebrate. Sometimes it feels like a marketing team is sitting there thinking, “We need to do something for Black History Month, let’s think about it,” and they’re doing the bare minimum. If this corporate ethos persists in marketing meetings, it can make Black History Month celebrations seem cheap and insignificant.

Last week, Bath and Body Works faced backlash on Twitter when they released their Black History Month collection. He took popular scents like Champagne Toast, Coconut Sandalwood and Teakwood and applied traditional African prints and patterns to the packaging. A tweet from @blickiddyb said, “So gullible, no new scents, just candles and dashiki-style vibes to seal the performance. Support these black businesses and go all day. Quick and meaningless business schemes like this seem ingenious and rushed. There was no thought behind curating a scent that properly acknowledged black culture with traditional ethnic scents. They could have easily curated a new flavor that included cocoa butter, jojoba oil, or lemon by working with a minority team.

For those who want to celebrate in the right way, Black History Month is the perfect time to understand why this holiday is necessary. In this process, it is equally important to recognize that the small victories brought about by Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, MLK, etc., are part of an ongoing struggle that still exists today. Black History Month should automatically bring to mind the Black Lives Matter movement and the issue of systemic racism that modern society is trying to dismantle. This education can be through documentaries and books and simple things like podcasts about commutes to work or walks to class. People can donate funds to organizations that seek to improve minority youth or the criminal justice system. The United States has come a long way in the fight against racism and the fight against hate, but there is still a long way to go. Now is a great time to expose yourself to more black content creators on social media apps and diversify daily media streams, whether on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube.

However, black history should not only reflect the negativity and hatred that America has pushed on the black community. There should also be an appreciation for black culture and all the accomplishments it has brought to the world. Crab boils, creative nail art, rap music, extraordinary athleticism and dance moves should be treated as aspects of culture that the black community has shared with society and made life more fun. There are so many great black artists and actors whose gift may be their all-time favorite album or movie. As college students, it can be harder to take active time out of your day to celebrate. Still, it might just take a moment of gratitude for that SZA song you can’t stop singing or devoting movie night to popular black culture movies. Finally, black excellence and success should be honored and respected every day, not just in February. To think of how far African Americans have come in this country despite all the odds shows a resilience that people should praise more often.


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