Black History Month is an annual month-long celebration from the 1st of February to the 1st of March in USA and UK. The purpose of this annual celebration is to create awareness of Black history and legacy, and to sensitize people to it. From 1926, it has been a celebration of identity and resilience, of legacy and justice. If you are wondering how to celebrate black history month this February with books. Here are a few ways all of us, from whichever part of the world, can pay homage to this beautiful race through books.
How to Celebrate Black History Month This February With Books?
Since the point of this celebratory month’s conception was awareness, the prime way to honour it is to educate oneself about Black history and culture. Some books on our reading list include ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ by W. E. B. Dubois, ‘The Warmth of Other Suns’ by Isabel Wilkerson and ‘From Slavery To Freedom’ by John Hope Franklin.
Read books by people of colour
As important as it is to read ABOUT Black people, it is crucial also to read FROM Black people. Of course, there are seasoned writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. But you can also explore some lesser known writers, the likes of Nella Larson, Gayl Jones, Earl Lovelace and Wole Soyinka. There are also great contemporary writers to explore like Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead and Octavia Butler.
Donate books to a Black library
Books are not just static objects – they are a medium of change and transformation. Thus, donating books you’ve already read aids in the proliferation of knowledge and awareness. This month, you can choose to donate books (any, but preferably by or about Black people) to a local library. Or, you can donate books or money to a Black library, in order to keep the business thriving.
Gift books about Black lives and history to friends and family
In a similar vein, gifting books is also a way to proliferate knowledge and awareness. Beginning with friends and family, gifting books by and about Black people can sensitize people. Gifting books to people they may not otherwise pick up can educate them about topics they need to know but don’t want to – racism being a prime example.
Write stories with Black characters (only after research)
If you’re a writer yourself, it’s great to incorporate diversity into your writing. This has two benefits. It not only makes readers aware and conscious of the diversity in life, but also adds variety into characterization. Thus it makes books more informative and engaging. It’s important to remember, however, that it is VITAL not to misrepresent any community. Writing a character of a different race than yours takes multiple times more research than one of the same race. You must thoroughly know the community, practically and theoretically.
Fund a Black bookshop or publishing company
Another way to show your solidarity to the Black community is to fund, partly or fully, or donate to bookshops and publishing companies owned by Black people. This not only keeps them thriving, but also acts as vehicles for awareness of people who buy from those bookshops or publishers. In this twofold way, it impacts Black literary communities in great ways. It’s important to choose smaller bookshops and publishers to donate to, though, because it is they who need support the most.
Show some love to Black authors by writing letters or mails
Another way to support Black literary circles is to actively and consciously show appreciation for writers, poets and authors. Letting them know that their work is poignant and influences people can boost self-esteem in a great way. If they write about racial identity, Black culture, racism or stigma, then letting them know you recognize these themes and empathize with them can go a long way in promoting the Black literary community.