Racial justice advocates want this Black History Month to go beyond history • Brooklyn Paper

know about Racial justice advocates want this Black History Month to go beyond history • Brooklyn Paper

As Brooklyn’s black community faces different challenges and reaches new milestones, their concerns and needs change. As a new Black History Month begins, some experts say this year’s agenda should not only include remembrance of the celebration’s origins and isolated historical events, but also the root causes and context of current problems.

Last year, Black History Month included celebrating the appointment of Kamala Harrys as the first Black Vice President and the Reverend Raphael Warnock as the first Black Senator from Georgia. It also shed light on the disproportionate number of deaths and job losses among African Americans due to Covid-19.

This Black History Month, including Critical Race Theory and broader Black history in school curricula, rejecting restrictive electoral legislation, and closing the wealth gap are priorities for advocates and community leaders .

Knowledge of black history in the United States is, to this day, a contentious issue even in states with a large black population like New York. The social disparities suffered by black communities are rooted in history, and awareness is seen by many as crucial to achieving racial justice.

“In New York State alone, we have been trying to pass the black history curriculum bill for the last six or seven years and it seems to be the only bill that they are so hell-bent on not getting out of the Committee on Education”. said Anthony Beckford, president of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn.

An online petition launched three years ago by Beckford calls on the State Senate and State Assembly to pass the bill. Till the date, the petition it has obtained more than 125,000 signatures.

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“Schools are required to review Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and a couple of other biographies, but we need our kids to understand what’s going on today,” he said. “They need to understand not only the truth and ugliness of racism and slavery, but also that there have been black scientists, navigators, kings and queens and learn from very positive portrayals of them.”

Racial justice advocates want this Black History Month to go beyond history • Brooklyn Paper D3C5426
A painting of George Floyd is displayed during a celebration of the conviction of Derek Chauvin.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Black Lives Matter Brooklyn and other organizations will hold a forum on February 21 with corporations such as Target, Walmart and Google to discuss the promises of these companies starting in 2020, when the protests following the police killing of George Floyd were at their highest. . in improving equity for black employees, ensuring living wages, and reducing biased hiring practices.

“There is no fatigue,” Beckford said. “We will continue to address the issues and we will continue to put people in office who really represent us.”

Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to the vote, and more than 440 similar bills were introduced in 49 states. More than 100 will move from 2021, and even more have been previously filed for the 2022 legislative session in different states.

“This month, we need to address that laws that result in voter suppression are tied to systemic racism,” said Courtney Bennett, executive director of One Hundred Black Men of New York, an organization that focuses on mentoring, strategies of wealth creation and awareness. of the health problems that affect the black community. “These laws need to be changed permanently, so they don’t become a problem over and over again throughout our history.”

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According to Bennett, giving visibility to Black entrepreneurs, supporting their entrepreneurial spirit, and offering scholarships and internships to Black youth is key to achieving economic justice.

A study A 2020 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found an increase in startups in the United States that coincided with the federal Covid-19 relief stimulus, and is strongest in black communities. In different states, weekly business registrations more than doubled in the months after the CARES Act was signed in March 2020. It then increased by 60 percent, around the time of the supplemental relief package signed in December.

The largest increase in business registration occurred in black areas, particularly in upper-middle-income black neighborhoods.

“Black people should be part of the American dream,” Bennett said.

Throughout Brooklyn, there will be events to commemorate Black History Month. To support local businesses, the New Women Space, a community-led venue that promotes inclusion, will house Black-owned businesses. pop up shops and a african festival will take place at Hudson Station on February 19. The Brooklyn Public Library is hosting a series of virtual readings for adults about black historical icons and a concert by Harlem Chamber Players on February 28.

“People are amazed to see our collections on black history and the vast amount of material we have to learn about it,” said librarian Donald Peebles. “However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about it, from Black people coming to America as slaves, but also some as free people and Black elites, to who Black people are today.”