"Black History Month Post"
Yep. We are in the third full week of an already short month during which we have been asked to celebrate Black History. That’s fine! The month offers a high profile opportunity to showcase a rich legacy. Indeed, I always learn or am reminded of some extraordinary aspect of said legacy as the result of a well-curated program, post, special or campaign. Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History offers a compelling argument for the month’s ongoing relevance here. My institutional intellectual training is oriented in large part, around history, so his points certainly land well with me.
It may however, give you a smile (or a grimace) to compare Bunch’s earnest and on the nose plea for how and why we should be celebrating with Kashana Cauley’s smart take on how the nation seems to actually be practicing BHM—it gave me both. Spoiler alert, Ms. Cauley closes her piece by noting that “ the cruelest thing about Black History Month, other than its four-week limit, is that it forecloses the possibility of Black Futures Month — 30 or even 31 whole days when black people could celebrate by living anywhere, failing upward and cheerfully waving hello to cops who don’t see color.”
I don’t think it forecloses the possibility at all but her point is well taken. I lean towards the #blackallyear camp with regards to the month. My favorite way of celebrating BHM, is by honoring Blackness throughout the year—when and how I feel like. That’s the emancipatory spirit that surely underscored the observation’s founding. This practice shape shifts, evolves as I do and as the country does, and, noting the always intimate connection between our history and future, looks back expressly in the service of moving forward.
In celebration of Black History Month then, here’s a short video of an interview with Edna Lewis, a culinary (and otherwise) hero of mine. The sound is bad in the clangy kitchen and it ends mid-sentence but I’m glad it exists. Lewis touches upon ways in which Black folks were and are architects of “the only fully developed regional cuisine in the country.” And she shares her emphasis on good ingredients and flavor—enduring inspiration and guidelines for anyone interested in food. I think practices like those Lewis adopted, have much to teach us about delicious food, direct engagement with our food systems, and moving into a shared future sustainably. You best believe I’ll be studying them year ‘round