I used to think of February as the blackest month of the year. It’s the month set aside to honor and celebrate Black history in all facets. Sure, June, aka Black Music Month, celebrates our contributions to what is known as a universal language, but it’s not as all-encompassing as February.
However, August is giving February a run for its money. This month is Black Business Month, Black Philanthropy Month and Black August. August is Black, y’all.
I acknowledge, celebrate and honor my culture, 24/7, 365, but it’s always good to take time to pause and make deliberate decisions for collective uplift. And collective uplift is what it’s all about. Try to support your business on a rugged individualism or pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality and see how long your business lasts. You have to have customers — support — to make your business a success. Wouldn’t it be great if each of us were our own little island and didn’t need other people to survive? Maybe, but that’s not how it’s set up.
I vividly remember my “Each one teach one” blue T-shirt with the white letters making a circle. I understood the significance of the words then, but today I understand on a deeper level. Some of us like to fool ourselves and think we made it all alone, but I guarantee there are parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, family — someone — supporting each of us in our endeavors toward greatness. Heck, even your doubters give you fuel to push yourself. While a nifty slogan, “each one teach one” is about collective uplift and that’s what August is about for Black people.
Black Business Month reminds us to spend our dollars with Black businesses. We know our businesses often have less capital and access to less capital, were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many didn’t receive a Payroll Protection Program loan or a smaller amount than other businesses. The call to support our businesses became even more acute in 2020, and we haven’t let up. I continue to see people purposely searching for Black-owned businesses from doctors to party planners.
Black Philanthropy Month celebrates our culture of giving dating back to Africa. What I love about Black Philanthropy Month is it makes us aware of how generous of a people we are. It’s the affirmation we need to defend against the negative messages that come with being Black. This year’s theme is “TENacity: Making Equity Real” as Black Philanthropy Month celebrates its 10th year in existence. Philanthropy is often viewed through the narrow scope of monetary donations. However, philanthropy is giving of your time and talent not just your treasure, and Black people have a long history of giving of their time, talent and treasure. Donating money is vital, but that’s not the only way to give. Sometimes, and for people who’ve often had limited resources, giving of time and talent was the only way to give. I’m reminded of the “aunties” and grandmothers who take on children who need a home or cook enough to feed the neighborhood.
Black August pays tribute to our resistance — our collective strength, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, political prisoners and our continued fight for our humanity. Black August began in San Quentin State Prison in California in 1979 to honor fallen members of the Black liberation movement. It’s interesting to note many important events for Black people happened in the month of August: enslaved Africans brought to Jamestown, 1619; the start of the Haitian Revolution, 1791; Nat Turner’s rebellion, 1831; and Watts rebellion, 1965, to name a few.
Black August reminds me that while the fight isn’t over, so much of the heavy lifting was done by those who came before me. So many of our ancestors bore the brunt of the abuse of white supremacy so we could live a better life. I won’t squander it, and that’s why patronizing Black-owned businesses, and donating our time, talent or treasure (or all three) to each other is the very least we can do this month.
February is a time of reflection, but let’s make August a time of action. Let’s make it a great month to be Black.