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Celebrating Black History Month

Written by Madeline Karian
    Thursday, 18 February 2021
Celebrating Black History Month

As member of an organization that is striving to actively be anti-racist, I feel it’s more important than ever to both learn and celebrate Black history. To cut to the chase, I am a white woman and I don’t believe it’s right for me to have the loudest presence at this moment in time. 

While I and my colleagues don’t claim to be experts, one thing we know we can do is share events, stories, and activities that honor Black History this month. Preferably, these are things led or created by people of color, in order to amplify their voices and not take up more space with my voice or other white voices. So with that, I offer you a list of ways to celebrate, educate, and enjoy Black History Month this year: 

  1. To catch up with where we stand at the Urban Ecology Center, take a moment to watch or read our official Anti-Racism statement, here. Then, take a listen to the Urban Ecology podcast on equity, dignity, and justice, featuring August Marie Ball, here.
  2. Register here for the African American Environmental Pioneer Awards on Feb. 22nd. This event is run by the Sierra Club to honor the people of color in Milwaukee that are making waves in the environmental field. The list of Pioneer and Rising Star recipients even includes some folks that the UEC has had the honor of partnering, collaborating, or working with in recent years. Additionally, you’ll see a familiar face as Terry Evans (our Washington Park branch manager) is on the event committee. 
  3. Take a look at Milwaukee Public Schools’ reading list for February, found here. There are options for all ages and this month, they’re focusing on stories surrounding Black History. 
  4. Subscribe to Anti-Racism Daily’s “28 Days of Black History,” a virtual exhibition that will send you an email each night highlighting work from a different Black creator, honoring the history, and discussing action steps to create a more anti-racist community. 
  5. Follow one of my personal favorite public figures, Rachel Cargle, and her Black History Month Series using the hashtag #DiscoverOurGlory2021. Each day, Rachel will share a prompt to promote self-guided learning on specific topics related to Black History. Rachel also curates an on-going series called The Great Unlearn. Click here to learn more and continue this personal work beyond Black History Month. 
  6. Add more Black creators into your every day routine. Authors, podcasters, singers, artists of every kind - fill your senses with more diverse offerings. In a past series of Rachel Cargle’s #DoTheWork course, she shares some ways to do this by stating: “Today's action is to take time going through your home and lifestyle to see how white it really is and to add some color (well, some people of color). Buy a new book authored by a black woman, snag tickets to a show written or directed by a person of color, follow the voices and platforms of more people of color, watch the stories of black experiences on the screen. (Follow the links for more extensive lists!)
  7. Support local Black-owned businesses! My favorites? Stopping at Twisted Plants for some vegetarian eats, buying plants from Maranta Plant Shop, or taking a socially-distanced Paint & Sip class at Cream City Print Lounge. Visit https://mkeblack.org/discover/ to find a whole list of ways to support Black business owners in Milwaukee. 
  8. Brush up on your knowledge of Black Environmentalists by reading SFEnvrionment’s extensive list, here
  9. Follow the video series from Doug Harris, Celebrating Black History Month: Maximizing Our History In Your Workplace. Doug is the CEO of The Kaleidoscope Group and in this series examines the past, present and future of Black History. Learn more here
  10. If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to donate to a local organization, specifically one that is actively working to fight racial injustice, please do! Milwaukee is full of great leaders and great people doing great work. A simple Google search will connect you to a dozen of these in a matter of minutes. 

Celebrate Black History by celebrating the black people in your life or community! Whether you’re listening or teaching, learning or unlearning, take the time to amplify Black voices, consume Black art and honor Black history. In the age of technology, Zoom art exhibits, virtual author talks, and so much more - the world is truly at your fingertips. 

And of course, don’t stop after this month. While February is the month dedicated to Black History, it can and should always be celebrated and honored throughout our daily lives!

Madeline Karian

Madeline Karian

Madeline started out at the Urban Ecology Center as a Summer Camp intern in 2018. After graduation from UW-Milwaukee, studying Biology and Conservation Science, she came back for more! In her current role, Madeline works full-time as a Community Programs Registrar and Educator. Outside of the UEC, she loves finding new ways to stay active, her cats and spending time outside. Madeline hopes to bring urban communities together to practice sustainability through education and neighborhood engagement. 

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