February is upon us. February is many things: the month where people who don’t believe in climate change trust a rodent with weather information; the month in which millionaires beating the crap out of each other tossing a ball around for the delight of their billionaire owners and we plebes alike decide their championship; and the government pays lip service to the history of a people just fifty years ago they were trying to blow off bridges with firehoses.
Black History Month is supremely important, and not just because it allows us to examine the immeasurable contributions to our world by African American men and women. It also allows us to once again weed out those people who just shouldn’t be listened to.
These are the people who have a knee-jerk (emphasis on jerk) reaction to hearing “Black History Month” by asking when white history month is. If someone asks you this question, just tell them its when the History Channel has their annual “Nazi Week.”
This year, there are a couple of cool artistic movements to follow that celebrate Black culture and Black creativity. They celebrate the wonderful joy and life African American culture has to offer, and not just other African Americans. These works offer other peoples a chance to learn more about African Americans and themselves in the process.
First is a daily art “challenge” similar to Inktober in execution called HERUARY. It’s a list of 29 classic Black superheroes that are creator-owned. You can follow along with this link:
Characters highlighted on the list include Friday Foster, Harriet Tubman – Demon Hunter, and Leon: Protector of the Playground (created by my friend and fellow Kids Love Comics alum, Jamar Nicholas).
The other Twitter hashtag you can follow is #29DaysOfBlackCosplay in which African American cosplay artists are posting photos of some of their favorite costume creations. Follow that hashtag with this link:
Unlike Heruary, 29 Days has no set schedule, so you are likely to see a very wide selection of costumes and genres, from video games, anime, and superheroes.
And, just in case you’re not sure that these two artistic endeavors actually represent Black culture…pay closer attention to the artists.
These endeavors represent the artist as much as the subject. They are celebrations of life. Celebrations of what gives these people – these artists – joy. Celebrations of the myriad of influences on their life, and how they interpret those influences into their art.
This is their culture. It isn’t what you expect it to be based on old, outdated history.
This is their culture, celebrate it with them. And then celebrate their history, too. All of it. Beyond the race riots, and beyond the Jim Crow laws, and beyond the Civil War.
Beyond our white heritage that kidnapped their ancestors and dragged them here to do work we were to scared or hubristic to do ourselves.
Beyond our inherent racism.
Beyond our culture.
Because once we actually let go of our own hangups for a moment and accept and embrace another’s history and culture, then – only then – will we be able to understand ourselves. And then we can all be a little more free, and a little more understanding, and a little more empathetic.