Black History Month, as I understand it, is a time of year when we intently focus and reflect on the cultures, contributions, and the manifold legacies of Black peoples — both within the US borders and beyond, to encompass all the global Africana fraternity. During this time, either individually or collectively, people become more attuned to the variegated ways in which Blackness as a racial-cultural identity is “performed.” This entails taking into account the blessings and breakthroughs, as well as the accruing burdens and limitations — in the past and at present.
At our Tapestry Ministries Berkeley fellowship, there have been several approaches to commemorating BHM. The more common one is the communal discussion forums, commonly during the Sunday worship gathering, whereby individual members share their understanding of some important aspect/s of what BHM represents. For instance, at one such forum a couple years ago, the lead pastor invited us to highlight either a major historical event and/or personality that we readily associate with a distinctively Black identity and history. From famed icons like Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, WEB Dubois, Howard Thurman to Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X among others, participants passionately shared their organic connection to BHM. Such a greatly inspiring experience!
As to what the Church/DSF could do to make it all the more impactful, I can think of the import to pay keener attention to the dire need for more diversified inclusivity. This observation I offer as an outsider, which is exactly what it feels like whenever conversations around the Black experience happen, around here. Admittedly, this may not be that easily recognizable by other racial demographics who are more likely to lump all Black-ish folks under one big umbrella, consequently resulting in treating their narratives and issues uniformly. Since BHM tends to be more US-centric, possibly rather inescapably, hopefully there are ways in which the diverse experiences/voices of other diasporic communities — like those from the Caribbean and the African continent — could be weaved into the broader tapestry, towards fashioning an even greater multifaceted beauty. In the meantime, wishing a deeply reflective and equally dignifying BHM to all!
Gideon Mbui, DSF/GTU student (Ph.D.) and a preacher/theologian from Kianjai, Meru Country, on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya (Upper Eastern region)
Note from Editor: In honor of Black History Month, DSF has invited board members, students, and graduates to share their reflections on this annual celebration. Each of them has been asked to answer the following three questions:
1. What does Black History Month mean to you?
2. How do you/your church celebrate Black History Month?
3. How would you like our Church to honor Black History Month?
We invite you to take a little bit of time out of your day to join us in reflection.