Black History month lands on the second month of the year where we celebrate and acknowledge our historic leaders within the black culture in the US and Canada. February is filled with memorials, historic lessons, and events centered around black excellence. It is great to celebrate black history and it’s even better to make conscious choices today that can create a better tomorrow. These ideas are to help boost morale and practice inclusion in the workplace
1. Support a Black Organization
There are many organizations that help advocate for equality and support black individuals in need. If your company has a workplace giving program, you can select your desired organization to give tax-deductible donations. This gives supporters of Black Lives Matter an active option to show their support. Here are a few organizations you can support today:
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund– Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.
Innocence Project– Innocence Project, Inc. is a 501 nonprofit legal organization that is committed to exonerating individuals who have been wrongly convicted, through the use of DNA testing and working to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
BlackLight Community– A black lead organization that serves people of color through life, performance, and well being. This organization provides masterclasses, performance, and networking opportunities to advocate for equity within the entertainment industry.
2. Black Trivia Game: Black Jeopardy
Trivia games are a great way to celebrate black culture with your work group, or family and friends at game night. Black Jeopardy, features 30 questions in the format of the popular Jeopardy game and it comes with sounds – cheering, right answer chime, wrong answer buzzing sounds. The online Black Jeopardy game was created by Kimberly King, a black web designer that founded MelaninDesignCo. King has a passion for web-design so she created the game so it could be accessible for all. In this game, we get to learn about the accomplishments of black people and those who have made history, while bringing a competitive feel to the game, just like regular Jeopardy. To add more to the game, add a prize for the team that wins the most points! You can also add your own heroes to the game or customize it to a theme related to your company.
3. Virtual Events That Highlight Black Creators
We are still somewhere down in the Pandemic however there are ways of having some good times in the solace and security of your own space. These occasions can be shared as a singular choice to pass along and differ in view of taste and interests.
ASALH’s Black History Month Festival Opening– This two part festival will be highlighting the history of health and wellness by acknowledging black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine.
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” – Attend this Black History month movie screening with the Congress of Black Women of Canada. On February 20th, there will be a virtual screening of the movie “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” at 3pm EST (Easter Standard Time). It’s a free viewing about Toni Morrisons’ personal view on American History on the exploration of race in addition to opinions from other colleagues and critics.
Latosha Brown Keynote Speaker Address, “Fostering the emotional stamina to stay engaged”. Latosha Brown, an alum of Harvard university, is an award winning organizer and philanthropist. Her mission is to put words into play as she helps organizations and nonprofits strive to make an active difference in the black-political community. She’s the co-founder of Black Votes Matter and has taken strides to get African Americans the resources they need to vote. The Black Votes Matter Foundation advocates for voter registration, transportation to get to the polls, and services for grassroot startups that share the same mission. Latosha Brown’s Keynote address hosted by the GRCC Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be held on February 15, 2022.
The New Renaissance Presents: Radical Joy Session – Black History Month 2022: What’s better than a hype virtual concert where you can groove and have a good time. The Radical Joy Session comes with different packages, from extra tickets to gourmet popcorn for you to enjoy. Tickets are available for every day in February so you can select your date and set up a small gathering with your group to party and have a good time!
The LEGO Master Challenge– This virtual LEGO challenge led by a Black LEGO master Corey Samuels, takes you into creative mode as you make cool sculptures and receive tips from Corey. He walks you step by step as you build your best three-dimensional art piece.
Story Time with Mo Phillips-Spotts– Led by a Black business owner who does children’s book subscriptions. Her classes bring an abundance of knowledge and resources to make learning fun. Her book selections are centered around diverse perspectives and stories.
Abstract Acrylic Painting– This joyful art class allows the option to use colors common to black culture (African American Flag) and symbolism around layering of colors and impact of mixing.
Interactive Poetry Class– Led by yours truly! In my poetry event, we go into the basics of how to write poetry and showcase famous poets and their methods. All of these events are available on the Garden Streets events section.
4. Create a Club Discussing Black Playwrights
Plays can provide snapshots of what’s happening in society during the time the play was published. It’s an art form that can support insightful discussions around the story, the era in which the play was written, and how it affected the audience at that time. You can do a reading of the play, assign roles to your group and read it together for an especially interactive and impactful session of perspective-taking. Here are some great plays that were written by black playwrights to consider:
The Colored Museum
The Amen Corner
A Raisin in the Sun
5. Black Self Care Coloring Books
Coloring books are great to add to the magazine collection in the break room or a family activity where you can involve children! It’s an enjoyable activity, effective if you’re looking for some down time to clear your mind and relax. It’s important to have content available that is inclusive and thoughtful and coloring books made by black illustrators is a great addition.
6. Hold Dinners/Luncheons Bought from Black-owned Restaurants
Whether it be a fun Friday meal for your coworkers or family night take-out, you can do your part in supporting black businesses by purchasing your meals from a black-owned restaurant. To find local black-owned restaurants in your area, you can download the app EatOkra. EatOkra is the first directory of Black-owned eateries, and it’s run by a tiny team of just three people: app developer Anthony Edwards JrHis wife Janique Edwards. The app allows you to search over 2,500 restaurants around the country by cuisine and region. EatOkra can connect you to GrubHub, DoorDash, or whatever delivery service a restaurant utilizes if you need food delivered. If you’re stopping by in person, select “navigate,” and EatOkra will provide directions via your favorite navigation app or link you to a ride-sharing provider. They give you a list of apps and sources where you can find different local eateries. Another great way to support the black businesses consistently through the month is to Offer a stipend or gift certificate to purchase from a black-owned business.
7. Offer Micro Scholarships/Grants for Black Students
There is still a financial deficit when it comes to black students being able to go to college. According to the Washington Post, “Black college graduates have higher debt loads, on average, than White college graduates. Black debt rises over time, White debt diminishes.” Providing scholarships for black students can help diminish the number of student loans black students would need to pay. One great option is to run an office fundraiser to collect a pool of money towards a micro scholarship, or if your company has a donation matching program, make it easier for the team by sharing a list of historically black colleges that would benefit from such donations
8. Decorate your Space with Black-made Decor
It can be time-consuming to find decor art that compliments your work environment, so we did the work for you! These options are from unique companies that have a story, are environmentally conscious, and hold a specific style that may complement the ambiance of your space. Here’s a list for you to search for beautiful standard art that you can buy to spruce up your space.
- SustainAble Home Goods has a BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) section that has an assortment of accessories to make your personal space more comfortable. The items range from couch pillows, hand soaps, to decorative abstract art. LaToya Tucciarone is on a mission to provide shoppers with unique, handmade items that positively impact the world with every purchase through her company. Their new store at Ponce City Market offers a special selection of home goods and accessories, from dish ware to wall hangings, and features original artwork from female artists
- DOMAIN by Laura Hodges Studio: Owner and principal interior designer Laura Hodges is known for her eclectic, tailored aesthetic that incorporates vintage finds, curated art, and natural elements. Her home decor shop, DOMAIN by L, is based in Washington, D.C. Her decor shop, DOMAIN by Laura Hodges Studio, offers locally and globally sourced, sustainable home decor and one-of-a-kind pieces.
- DomoINK was started in 2018 by Domonique Brown in the kitchen of her parents’ home in Ponoma California. This digital illustrator works from the ground up, by layering with markers and acrylic strokes. Domoniques art centers around black appreciation and shines a light on voices that aren’t heard in the fine art industry. Her art ranges from famous black influencers to semi-abstract images of everyday life in the black cultures. Here are some of her pieces.
9. Virtual Tours of Black History Museums
Black oppression is prominent in American history and it has allowed great leaders to flourish and stand up for equality. The list of museums touches on oppression while also celebrating the culture within music, art, and politics. This option is great for international groups who want to learn about black culture and its entire history.
10. Organize Employee Resource Groups
Black History Month is the perfect time for your company to launch or promote Black employees resource groups. It is best to have a third-party facilitator to help with the organization and execution of providing resources to your teammates to not put burden of inclusion on the minority.
The National Society for Black Engineers is an industry group that may be able to assist your organization even if it has very few employees. NSBE is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the US. Their mission is to NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” Another meaningful gesture is to assist interested employees with membership fees or re-reimbursement opportunities. These opportunities will bring a stronger foundation of trust and security within your team.
Garden Streets Touchpoints for the month of February that caters to black culture and its history. Touchpoints are an arrangement of motivational snippetsto construct versatility or straightforward on-boarding checklists. TouchPoints are simple, adaptable and light-weight so your messages will be sent catered to your liking. Advanced planning, custom send times, and broad substance library makes it easy for HR leaders to save time.To learn more about this service, visit Garden Streets site.
Using these ideas will allow you to learn and save space for different cultures which is another way of exhibiting inclusion. It is best to have a third-party facilitator to help with the organization by providing resources to your teammates. That way, your goal can be reached without the burden of time and research on the shoulders of the minorities on your team. The great thing about our options is that no matter how big or small your group or department is, you will be able to customize it to your liking. We encourage solidifying thoughtful ideas that are meaningful to those around you. Be sure to share these ideas with friends and colleagues as we prepare to celebrate in our best way!
My name is India Shanelle, an artist, entrepreneur, and founder of BlackLight Community a nonprofit that serves people of color in the entertainment industry through life performance, and well-being. As a black woman that has dedicated my life to the arts, I understand the importance of storytelling and its effect on our society and our view of how we see each other. And I’m sure if you’re an avid reader, you’d believe the same.