• Jen Brown, LICSW

Black History Month

While many people in the U.S. may be familiar with Black History Month, February has only been designated as such for the past 50 years or so. Many of us learned American history that is centered on white, colonialist events and experiences, with little information about the lives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). For 2021, the theme of Black History Month is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” which explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States. Here are some ways you can engage in the meaning of Black History Month:

  • Support Black-owned businesses, whether bookstores, restaurants, or specialty stores. Check out local directories like this one for ideas of businesses to support.

  • Stay informed about what’s happening in current racial justice spaces, such as Black Lives Matter (national or local chapters), Race Forward, Color of Change, and more.

  • Stretch beyond your comfort zone. While there are many Black politicians, activists, artists, scientists, etc., we tend to focus on a few well-known names, like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. Make a point to learn about other Black people who shaped history, and notice your own reactions, thoughts, and feelings about your learning, such as “Why didn’t I know this before?” and “Whose stories am I most familiar with, and why is that?”

  • Commit to learning about Black history year-round, not just this month. A few ideas to get started include the Anti-Racism Daily by Nicole Cardoza, Rachel Cargle and The Great Unlearn (monthly self-paced syllabi), and podcasts like Code Switch, 1619, and The History of American Slavery. There are tons of resources out there, and your local library or a Google search can help point you in the right direction.

Jen Brown, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been in clinical practice since 2014. She received her MSW and Certificate in Urban Leadership in clinical social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. She has worked in outpatient mental health and integrative settings in community health centers, college mental health, and in affordable housing. Jen has experience working with depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, substance use and addiction, ADHD, identity shifts/adjustment issues, chronic illness, body image concerns, and relationship issues.

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