by Anthony R. Green
Social media always has some amazing Black History Month related memes and posts, and it is refreshing and sometimes entertaining to scroll and come across something enlightening or simply knee-slapping, breathtakingly hilarious! I've seen people share speeches and quotes by luminaries such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, and others. Friends shared book recommendations by Olaudah Equiano, Katherine McKittrick, and others. There were also some incredible memes, one of which asked which "Blackity Black thing will you do this month? I will cover my sofa in plastic!" (This is SUCH a Black joke, and probably even niche in the Black world, too, but made me spit out my tea!)
It is also relevant to ruminate about the failings of Black History Month, not for the purpose of breaking down a culture and criticizing the creators, but for the purposes of knowing how February celebrations can be improved. Many artists refer to February as "Black Employment Month", implying that organizations especially (and even sometimes desperately) call on Black artists and creatives to put something together for February, then abandon any connection/collaboration until next February. This is DEFINITELY a problem that can be improved by insisting on long-term collaborations, and holding such organizations accountable for their ignorance. Sadly enough, organizations led by people of a myriad of ethnic backgrounds fall into this deplorable trend.
While SoundCloud isn't your typical social media platform, I was pleasantly surprised to come across an incredible poem by Sapient Soul. I believe the poem itself is called Black History Is, but it is within a track called process. The poem speaks of the poet's transition from "hating" Black History Month as a child to "thinking it is funny/ironic" today. It is a beautiful and brutal critique of a month where we as Black people can do more to convey the Black presence in WORLD history, rather than repeat the same practices that seem to dominate February celebrations everywhere. Sapient Soul evokes names: Ida B. Wells, Denmark Vesey, Shirley Chisolm, and more. She speaks of how her non-standard persona kept her questioning the February rituals, and how she retrospectively knew she should have been taught something deeper, something that reaches further back in history, establishing the pride and richness of Black culture before the trans-atlantic trade. This poem, along with the other uninhibited works on the album, is an incredible diagnosis of Black History Month, and should be heard and contemplated by all! You can listen to it on SoundCloud (starts at 6:30), and you can purchase the entire album (warning: explicit content) on BandCamp (name your price).
Sapient Soul is Marlanda Dekine.
Writings, musings, photos, links, and videos about Black Artistry of ALL varieties! Feel free to drop a comment or suggestions for posts!