Black History Month offers a designated time to acknowledge the Black community’s contributions to society — a time to honor Black accomplishments and to reflect on a decadeslong struggle for freedom and equality. Here are some ways you can learn, support and celebrate Black history and culture during this month.
Vote with your wallet
Donate money to Black nonprofits. Several nonprofits work to promote and create opportunities for the Black community — from counteracting police violence to increasing the representation of Black women in STEM. This Black History Month, consider donating your money, or your time, to organizations such as the NAACP, Black Girls Code, Trans Women of Color Collective or SisterLove.
Promote Black-owned businesses, whether they be local or online. Supporting Black entrepreneurs is a potent way to give back directly to the Black community. Use websites such as Black Owned Business Network or the Bay Area Black Market to find Berkeley-based Black-owned businesses (say that five times fast).
Eat at Black-owned restaurants
If you’re looking to try something new, try Suya African-Caribbean Grill on Oxford Street. The restaurant’s skewers are seasoned to perfection — spicy, full of flavor, and sure to warm you up in these particularly cold times. There’s not much else to say other than the food is really, really good.
Last Black History Month, KC’s Bar-B-Que faced incredible hardship — a fire badly burned the building, causing about $500,000 in damage. This February, show the staff at KC’s some love, and eat some ribs in the process.
Support Black creatives
Go to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and see works from contemporary artists of African descent. Admission is free on each Saturday of Black History Month, but make sure to donate if you are able to.
The Black Repertory Group Theater on Adeline Street will be performing “The Wiz” and “Port Chicago 50” during this Black History Month. The theater will also present “Unbought & Unbossed,” a multimedia production telling the true story of Shirley Chisholm, the nation’s first Black woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Oakland First Fridays is celebrating Black History Month by spotlighting local artists of the Black community. Experience performances from Porsche Kelly, a spoken-word artist; Drow Flow, a Bay Area-based DJ, and TURFinc, an Oakland dance studio that works with inner-city kids, among other acts.
Learn about Black history
American K-12 education is sorely lacking when it comes to teaching about Black culture — our history classes revolve around the actions of white men. This month, learn about the unsung heroes of Black history, and the rich, diverse history of Africa, by auditing a course through the African American studies or ethnic studies departments at UC Berkeley.
Visit the African American Museum & Library at Oakland, and check out the “Today’s Victory is Tomorrow’s Legacy” exhibit, which tells the story of Ruby Bridges and the integration of all-white classrooms in the Oakland Unified School District. The museum will also screen documentaries every Saturday of Black History Month — on Feb. 3, the museum will welcome Cal alumnus Ivan J. Houston, a World War II veteran, to present the documentary “With One Hand Tied.”
Call representatives at the federal, state and local levels, and ask what they are doing to reduce police violence in this country. City Council members are incredibly responsive, but you will likely be put on hold if trying to reach U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee. Bring up specific policy ideas — limiting the use of force or banning police quotas for tickets and arrests, for example. Campaign Zero is a great resource for learning more about what politicians can and should be doing.
Call your local police station and ask which nonlethal tactics officers are trained to use. Ask what sort of training officers receive in order to reduce racial bias.
Say their names
Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Use their names. Remember them as people — as somebody’s child, brother, sister, father, mother, aunt or uncle. Remember them as a Black person worthy of dignity and respect, and recognize their life was taken from them far too soon.