Black History Month Exit Initiative: Becoming year-long activists 

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Since it is Black History Month, there are plenty of events across Connecticut and dates to celebrate specific aspects of Black history, culture, and media. Listed below are a number of ways you can support the Black community. Photo by Kelly L from Pexels.

Happy Black History Month! Black History Month (BHM) is a month-long celebration dedicated to understanding, spotlighting and appreciating Black history and achievements. The United States spends all of February having difficult but necessary conversations about the country’s torrid history of racism and organizing community events to honor underrepresented Black figures in history. This year’s Black History Month theme is Black health and wellness, focusing on its importance and acknowledging Black scholars, medical practitioners, birth workers, doulas, midwives, herbalists and other positions held by people in the African Diaspora.  

In Connecticut alone, there are many events across the state that honor Black history like paint nights in East Haven, virtual book discussion groups, Black health & wellness art exhibits in Stamford or concerts in Ridgefield. Unfortunately, this conscious effort toward Black empowerment and appreciation, especially by those who do not identify with the community, ends with the month of February. Solely attending a BHM event or two and reposting a few social media stories against police brutality is performative and insincere activism.  We need to be year-round activists, supporting and standing with our friends in the Black community not only after we learn they face racism in their neighborhoods, classes, and social interactions, but also uplifting and promoting their huge successes, strengths, and assets they offer year-round to our communities. A celebration of Black success and Black excellence draws attention to the triumphs of a community that has contributed much to our country. Acknowledging the inequities faced by the Black community is imperative, but participating in promotion of Black achievement is equally as significant to demonstrate appreciation and support. 

The following are simple ways you can support and honor the Black community this month and beyond:  

  • Support Black-owned businesses 
  • Read works by Black authors  
  • Watch Black entertainment  
  • Listen to music created by Black artists  
  • Diversify your social media feeds.  
Due to the history of discrimination and generational wealth gaps caused by it, Black-owned businesses are typically started with less resources and see less patronage. By shopping at these businesses, patrons can help fix this societal problem. Photo by Shane Aldendorff from Pexels.

Making a conscious effort to support local Black-owned businesses for your weekly coffee runs is a step in the right direction towards closing the racial wealth gap and allowing more Black representation in the market. Supporting Black authors is also an active and powerful way to deeply understand and respect Black voices. Additionally, listening to the works of Black artists and diversifying social media feeds is an enjoyable but important way to more consistently integrate supporting and honoring the Black community throughout the year.  

In light of this, UConn’s Learning Community Council presents the Black History Month (BHM) Exit Initiative from Feb. 21-25. During this week, the UConn Learning Communities Instagram will post daily challenges and student/faculty features that promote activism and celebration of the Black Community both on and off UConn’s campus.  

The mission of the Black History Month Exit Initiative is to remove the limits of our celebrations to being within national holidays and governmentally recognized observances. During the last week of the month, the conversations dwindle and the major BHM events come to a close. By introducing actions into our everyday lives with this content, like eating at Black-owned restaurants or diversifying our Instagram feeds, the UConn community will learn ways to become year-round activists to continuously support the Black Community.  

Join the Learning Community Council on Instagram to complete these challenges and help build student-contributed content for this initiative by filling out this form, regardless of how you identify! 

What to expect in this upcoming initiative: 

2/18: ScHOLA2RS House Live Kickoff 

2/21: Support Black-Owned Businesses 

2/22: Read Works by Black Authors 

2/23: Watch Black Entertainment 

2/24: Listen to Black Artists 

2/25: Diversify Social Media Feeds  

This article was written by the Enrichment Committee, comprised of Mehak Sharma, Milan Patel and Jaden Roxas. The Enrichment Committee is a Learning Community Council committee that focuses on creating and supporting initiatives and opportunities that help create an enriching, meaningful, and diverse experience for LC students. The committee focuses on undergraduate research, innovation and entrepreneurship, service learning, and many more avenues to help create enriching experiences for students, especially first year students. 

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