Above: Oakland youth leaders with CFJ stand before a mural of Oscar Grant — the young black man murdered by BART police in 2009.
We’re halfway through Black History/Black Futures Month and felt it’s time for this conversation. For decades February has been marked in the U.S. calendar as Black History Month — a time when corporate brands, school systems and politicians uplift carefully selected elements of the civil rights movement, dead Black leaders and non-radical athletes. We’ve all seen examples of how this month can be co-opted by those looking for ways to engage with the Black community and Black history without confronting hard truths about the racist, anti-black roots and actions of our government systems, economy and American society.
So what will it take to celebrate Black Futures?
Black Futures Month was established in 2015 by the Movement for Black Lives and it continues to be a call for our communities and allies to envision where we can go from here. This means looking beyond what’s easy or comfortable, to instead look towards the radical, bold, and new future we can imagine for ourselves. To get there though it means pushing back against what has been previously offered in February celebrations. It means embracing the hard truths of our history: The real history of the U.S., the brutal and violent oppression of Black folks that continues to this day, and our county’s disinvestment in Black love, joy and life. It also means embracing the way our Black communities have thrived, against all odds and efforts of our white-centric systems. Black Futures Month means knowing our youth, families and communities are powerful leaders capable of building a brighter tomorrow.
To celebrate Black Futures Month, we must continue to push back against the systems that seek to only celebrate footnotes of the past. We must require them to envision a bold, bright and Black future. We can start in the classroom since our public schools are the heart of our communities. The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action earlier this month was a powerful way to get informed and involved in making this future our reality. They’re national demands include ending zero-tolerance policies that overwhelmingly harm Black boys and girls and feed the school-to-prison pipeline, and hiring more Black teachers so our youth have a chance to learn and engage with folks who truly see them and their community.
Be sure to learn more about supporting Black futures in school through our reports and resources:
- Why Race and Relationships Matter in California Schools
- 6 Things School Staff Can Do to Interrupt Unconscious Bias
- The ABCs of Justice: Students and Parents Fighting for Racial Justice in California Schools
Celebrate Black Futures Month with us by:
- Following us on social media (instagram & twitter) as we celebrate Black Futures, History, and Black Lives Matters at School
- Choosing a visual of a Black leader that resonates with you and sharing via your social networks.
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