JCI Looks to the Future for Black History Month
By Daviona Moore
Happy Black History Month! JCI is a proud ally of the Black community. We are not perfect, given that the corporate environment is a predominantly white space; but we’re working to make room and center those underrepresented in this type of environment. Our work aims to reach specific communities and collaborate with organizers to propose resources based on their needs, especially in underserved locations. We are dedicated to our work and continue to remain open to feedback on how we can improve. It’s important to be transparent in the fact that we are still learning and we encourage folks to “call-in” when appropriate. JCI also understands that Black history is not static--how could it be if it’s being written every day?
To that end, we want to expand on more than the Reconstruction Era and the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Black folks face joy and hardship in tandem while grappling with modern forms of Jim Crow laws. This includes but is not limited to inequitable vaccine distribution, police brutality, microaggressions at work and school, and uneven allocation of resources.
It’s time to disrupt the manner in which we collectively celebrate Black History Month, usually done by highlighting a limited list of names such as Martin Luther King. Jr. and George Washington Carver. Black History Month is more than having a dream and peanut butter. The time is now for folks of all backgrounds to celebrate Black History Month in a way that acknowledges the Black experience, amplifies marginalized voices, and is restorative rather than traumatizing. Here are a few steps we encourage you to consider to advance your allyship with the Black community:
Be Mindful of the Space You Occupy - Sometimes speaking on issues you are not entirely educated on can be detrimental for others in the space. Get comfortable with stepping up and stepping back in conversations. Allow others the space to explain and clarify if you are not sure of the topic.
Embrace Black Storytelling - Whether you prefer books, music, film/TV, or even podcasts, there are Black creatives in that field. Step out of your comfort zone and try reading some Afrofuturism, go on a Nollywood movie binge, or catch an obscure biopic. Any way that you get your fix, explore the rich world of Black storytelling.
Buy Black-Owned - It’s not necessary to change your spending habits entirely, but try switching out one routine purchase in your budget with a Black-owned shop. This could be as small as buying a new candle or as huge as finding a new favorite restaurant. Doing so will allow you to continue to support your local Black community and create more equity in the local economy.
Listen, Listen, Listen - The title of “Black ally” means nothing if it is not put into practice. When Black folks, especially Black women, share their experiences, actually listen. Be present. Although you may mean well, avoid attempting to create symmetry between their experience and yours. Offer them support, validation, and listen to their preferred next steps. This is especially important with stories of trauma.
Learn about white privilege - White privilege is unfortunately all around us, from movies to shopping to advertising. This is why it is important, especially as a white person, to understand white privilege, how it may present, and what you can do to disrupt it. Should you need help getting started, some good primers include Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh and Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad.
Throughout the month, JCI will be using our platform to highlight Black leaders from across the state of California through an interview series called Can’t Touch This! wherein JCI Associate Daviona Moore will sit down with a variety of Black showstoppers, from elected officials to poets to medical professionals.
Follow JCI Worldwide on Instagram to stay up to date with our interviews so you can learn about Black history being written today! The Black experience is not a monolith, and we hope to demonstrate that through the array of Black leaders we plan on highlighting.