What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a powerful way for our society to coordinate on honoring the accomplishments and legacies of the Black and African diaspora and to make central the importance of understanding Black histories as part of American history. As a second generation immigrant, woman and non-Black person of color living in the U.S., for me Black History Month especially includes remembering the achievements led by Black civil rights groups and activists that we now all benefit from.
If you could describe one or two things that we could do to create a path to equity, inclusion and social justice, what would they be?
If it’s just one thing, and especially if you are a member of a privileged group whether that be through race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability status or something else; I would say to ask yourself, “What am I doing in my day-to-day to combat internalized and institutionalized oppression at multiple levels?” Recently reading and discussing Ruby Hamad’s “White Tears/Brown Scars” book with other Fulton Schools staff and faculty led me to focus my efforts on dismantling white supremacy, as the book and discussion helped me to see how white supremacy is not limited to the color of your skin and that white supremacy is the root of other categories of oppression beyond racism, including: sexism, classism, colorism and ableism, that affect our ability to function as a healthy and just society.
When I say “multiple levels,” I mean down to what words you choose to communicate with in daily life, for example: minoritized instead of minority, pathways instead of pipeline, alternatives to the still-common ableist terms “crazy” and “lame.” From holding space for the quieter people on your team to larger efforts like working with others to change organizational policies or practices in higher education that are holding us back from achieving more equitable, inclusive and just communities, we all need to start somewhere. All contributions are valuable even if that means starting today by googling, “what is internalized oppression?”