Each year, the U.S. sets aside a short, 28-day window in which to celebrate Blackness. Carving out a time when the whole country pauses to honor the achievements of Black folks is nice (though the fact that it happens during the shortest month of the year gives me pause), but Blackness does not only exist in February. Even if you had the black fist up as your profile picture all last month, Black appreciation needs to be a full-year thing.
While Black people are responsible for making the United States a truly democratic nation, appreciation for Black life and the advancement of Black people has a long way to go. We are still celebrating many firsts, and if we continue to support and celebrate Black excellence all year round, we will be taking greater steps toward creating an anti-racist society.
Lifehacker has provided a number of ways to acknowledge Blackness in our daily lives, publishing articles filled with toolkits, book and film recommendations, and tips on how to have those crucial conversations. Here is a collection of additional ways you can devote every day to the continued advancement of Black lives.
Extend activities across 365 days
Rather than cramming all of your lessons about Black history into the shortest month of the year, plan regular activities to expand your knowledge. The Freedom Papers lists books, playlists, documentaries, and guidelines to help allies create a well-rounded and active plan to benefit their own growth and knowledge.
Include current events in your regular learning practices. Often, Black History Month activities focus on past achievements by Black people that have contributed to society. That’s good, but in addition to giving yourself a strong foundation in the history of Black achievements, include current milestones. For example: Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle recently became the U.S. Navy’s first Black female tactical jet pilot. Milestones like Lt. Swegle’s are happening every day, and can be acknowledged and celebrated all year round.
Make it a regular practice to talk to your family about race and racism. The repercussions of slavery and systemic racism affect everyone in this country, and actions need to be taken every day to instill anti-racist practices in the minds of all Americans. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has published 10 Keys to Everyday Anti-Racism, offering introductory steps to reframe your mind and get you thinking more intently about anti-racist action. Chief among them are education and intention, key factors in creating the habitual exercise of anti-racism. While Black people must think about race every day of their lives, so should all others.
Racism exists within the housing industry, the prison industrial complex, the war on drugs, and commerce. Incorporate weekly or daily lessons that display the connections between historical racism and today. For example, prison labor is legal because of the 13th amendment, which states slavery is illegal unless the individual is punished for a crime. As a result, Black men and women (who are incarcerated at much higher rates) are made to work with little or no pay to manufacture products we use every day. These exercises will help you to realize the ways that Black history and systemic racism are intertwined in modern society. From there, you can take action: Be a more informed voter, elect not to shop at locations that use prison labor, or act as an advocate in other ways.
Shop at Black businesses all year long
Whenever you get an opportunity, buy something from a Black-owned business. Check out places like We Buy Black, where you can get the same products you might find at Target, but sold by Black-owned businesses. Make a change to your regular buying habits and you’ll be celebrating Black entrepreneurship.
Make monthly donations to Black causes and projects. One of the largest issues with systematic racism is the lack of support for Black professionals in varying industries. Make a point to donate to Black creators, Black initiatives, and Black Lives Matter.
Have regular movie nights featuring Black content
The same way you subscribe to YouTubers you like or streaming services you love in order to help them become more successful, you can support Black-created entertainment. Find movies and television shows that feature strong Black leads. Streaming services have made an effort to devote entire sections to influential Black programming. Hulu’s “Black Stories” tab offers award-winning programming like Atlanta, This Is Us, and The United States v.s. Billie Holiday. HBO Max, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video all offer a selection of Black media to educate, entertain, and encourage critical thought.