his·to·ry ˈhist(ə)rē noun 1. the study of past events, particularly in human affairs; 2. the whole series of past events, connected with someone or something
Black history is rich and varied within an already diverse group of people prolific in our contributions to global culture. The six weeks around Black History Month and International Women’s Day were rich in experiences and education. As I reflect, I smile thinking about the pride and excitement from all who attended. Admittedly, February can be a time when we check the boxes:
- Martin Luther King – check!
- Rosa Parks – check!
- Civil Rights Movement – check!
The giddiness was palpable when the African American resource group boldly decided to bring our many contributions to the forefront in a way that brought everyone along for the ride. We bravely admitted to each other that we struggle to smile and participate during this time of year, while we’re thinking about ALL the things we contributed before and after the civil rights movement. So we decided this year would be different. Looking back on the hard work it took to pull off the inaugural Celanese Black History Month, the reality is that creating the concept was easy. We let ourselves be creative, free to tell our own stories, and the results blew us away.
We brought fun facts to the masses on the video boards and partnered with a museum to bring the visual element with a pop-up gallery. Fun, fresh and accessible was the goal, but we knew we still needed to address colorism and race head on. On several occasions, I’ve heard colleagues say, “I can’t wait to live in a color blind world” or “I don’t see color.” I knew that these colleagues had good intentions, but I also knew that ignoring or overlooking racial and ethnic differences is the opposite of inclusion. So we got to work.
We designed the Be Brave, Be BOLD Discussion to educate the good intentioned, to emphasize that our racial and ethnic backgrounds should be valued, and to continue the dialogue that BOLD has prioritized since its launch in 2017. Our panelists brought our vision to life by sharing their backgrounds, experiences and perspectives on what it means to be color brave.
I hope we achieved our goals. At a minimum, I now feel empowered to engage in a conversation about black history and color brave issues. I hope others feel the same and embrace this not just as black people’s history, but everyone’s history.
Jackie Hall and Alishia Spriggins
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