It’s the end of Black History Month. English teachers will conclude their reading of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), History teachers have finished their 4-week retelling of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and Hoteps are done reminding everyone that cheating on Coretta was justifiable given MLK’s time away from home during the Civil Rights Movement. But what about the other 337 days in the year? What do we do with our blackness then?
While I am always overjoyed to see the “Black Boy Joy” and “Black Girl Magic” Snapchat filters appear on February 1st, it makes me question why Black excellence is scarcely embraced beyond the bounds of the shortest month of the year. As the calendar dates condense our expansive and diasporic history into 29* short days of remembrance, Blackness is stolen and imitated by culture vultures every day yet ridiculed when the same elements of fashion, dance, music, language, and hair are embraced by Black people themselves.
To this, I say: I do not choose to be Black every day. I am not only Black during February and the history I learn should reflect that. Black is not a trend, an act, or an accent. You cannot act Black, because Blackness comes in so many different shapes, colors, sizes, ideologies, and identities. You can’t pretend to be Black, and any imitation will be a poor attempt at doing so.
To my Black people: I love you! Embrace your identity every day of the year, learn your history for yourself, seek the truth, and continue spreading Black love, joy, and happiness to everyone you encounter, because it’s always Black History Month when you’re Black.