We all know that February is Black History Month in the US and Canada. With all of the attention on systemic racism, racial inequity, and the current political climate of the world— as a business owner, you may be asking yourself how to celebrate and acknowledge the month.
Should you post facts about Black people in history?
Should you post anything at all? Will it look like pandering?
If you do post something, how do you avoid saying the “wrong” thing unintentionally?
This is all very nuanced, but here’s the thing: Black History is American history.
Being a Black Woman small business owner who also happens to have a communications background, even I’ve wondered how I should approach it.
And, truthfully, you can celebrate it in a myriad of ways, from running a full social media campaign during the month to simply being more intentional about supporting Black business owners.
I want to share a few tips with you that can help you show up in the most authentic, genuine way possible. But, before we get into the ways to celebrate, there’s one take away that I need you to understand: there’s no ONE right way to celebrate Black History Month.
As you go through these options, you’ll recognize that you can do ALL of these things.
Tip #1: Dig A Little Deeper Than The Popular Icons
Our history books and schools repeat the stories of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman— and rightfully so. Especially for children who may be introduced to them for the first time. Representation matters.
However, there are so many lesser-known but still iconic, Black men and women, that we all should know.
Shirley Chisholm. Claudette Colvin. Bessie Coleman. Alvin Ailey. Henrietta Lacks. Josephine Baker. Madame C.J. Walker. Viola Desmond. These are just a few names.
There are thousands of Black historical figures who paved the way to where we are now, who worth celebrating today. And there are many stories separate from American history of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that deserved to be told.
If you’re committed to sharing stories this month, consider sharing those that aren’t as highly publicized to show that Black History and Black people are not a monolith. These stories are those that all people should be proud of.
Tip #2: Have Conversations With The Young People In Your Life
Once you’ve been introduced to new Black historical figures’ stories, be sure to share those stories and talk to the young people in your life. There are so many ways to have age-appropriate conversations and storytelling with little ones.
And no, by pointing out that someone is Black or African American, that is not teaching children to “see” race. It is merely acknowledging a part of a person’s identity. That isn’t inherently a negative thing unless we make it so.
Tip #3: Look At The Organization You’re Building
Are you actively building an anti-racist organization? An anti-racist organization isn’t as simple as not being racist. It means choosing your team consciously to incorporate different people, perspectives, cultures, backgrounds. It means inviting those same people to have a voice, contribute ideas, and offer opinions and thoughts.
Look outward, too. Are the businesses and organizations you’re working and collaborating with actively anti-racist, too?
Tip #4: Purchase & Highlight From Black-owned Businesses On Purpose
Being a business owner, you know that there are MANY ways to support a business owner. Purchasing their products and/or services is one type of support.
Another way to support is to simply amplify that business. Share their magic with your community by highlighting them on social media, writing a review, or sending a testimonial. Better yet.., do ALL of that!
These tips are easy to share on social media, even the more personal tips like auditing your organization and talking to your children. That can be easily translated with GREAT storytelling, which resonates with your ideal clients.
Don’t be afraid to step off the worn path or following the crowd by sharing the same information. After 2020, this conversation around race is vastly different… which means your approach should probably be, as well.
Get to know Kia
Wondering how you can continue to speak out against racial injustice? Kia has a great article on Three Ways Small Business Owners Can Speak Out During National Conversations.