How to celebrate Black History Month if you’re not Black

Smira Khalid, Housing Officer.

Black History Month should be a time of celebration for everyone. If you’re white and thinking ‘but how can I celebrate Black History Month?’ then Housing Officer Smira Khalid has some information for you.

‘This isn’t for me’ – I get it, I’m British/Asian Pakistani

Black history is everyone’s history, but has been systemically left out of our history books and mainstream media. Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the Black people in your life and find ways to give back to the Black community. More importantly you can work on breaking down the privileges in your own life and take action to break down those you see around you.

It’s true that Black History Month is not about you

That’s a reason to not take up space that isn’t for you, not an excuse to do nothing at all. Maybe you’ve kept quiet because you don’t feel educated enough to say something meaningful, or maybe you’re feeling a sense of guilt. This guilt will not save Black lives or stop the inequities that exist for communities of colour, but our actions can!

And you are not alone in this journey — there are plenty of white folk out in this world taking steps to understand how their skin colour as impacted their own lives, how barriers to BAME equality can show up at work and at home, and taking active steps towards change and healing. There are tons of resources that exist out there, and a great first step is exploring your options, read and listen to the stories of Black people, find guides for how to stand up for racial justice, and give back to Black authors, journalists, business owners, community leaders, and all the people who continue to shape and change the world we live in.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list but if you’re struggling for ways or places to get started on your journey, take a look at some steps below. Happy Black History Month, and cheers to a year of growth and accountability to ourselves, and our communities. Let’s create a legacy of being actively anti-racist and no more white complacency.

Learn about white supremacy and white privilege

Although these two phrases might conjure up some negative connotations for people, it’s important that white people understand how racial injustice has affected the world we live in. There are tonnes of research and guides on this subject, but if you’re not sure where to get started, I recommend the classic Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. In this reading you’ll explore the structural ways racism exists and see an example of how you can examine daily effects of white privilege.

For a newer read, Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy workbook is a 28 day guide into examining white supremacy in a variety of forms. It’s a free guide, and if you use the hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy you’ll find a community of other folks diving into this work, too.