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News From The Center: Black History Month

News From The Center: Black History Month

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements and central role of the Black community in the history of the United States. This event grew out of “Negro History Week” which was the brainchild of Black Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent Black leaders and scholars. This month was first recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976 with a call to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Every president since has designated February as Black History Month and this year’s theme “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.

 We celebrate the accomplishments of the Black community in this country, including the historic election of Vice President Kamala Harris, and we acknowledge how much further we have to go in our collective fight for justice to combat institutionalized racism, implicit and explicit biases, discrimination, and violence against the Black community. 2020 was a watershed year that showed how anti-Black racism persists in our country. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement, created a collective moment where more and more Americans believe, white supremacy and violence toward the Black community has been both commonplace and abhorrent, and committed to changing that long held truth in America.

 The work of combatting anti-Black racism is a shared responsibility. We all have a role, to examine our own history and hearts, and the racism that is rooted in ourselves and in our institutions, before we can build a society where Black lives truly matter. Over the past two years, with the help and partnership of Black-led organizations and Black community leaders, members and trainers, The Center has been actively working to examine and improve our work and internal practices in order to eradicate anti-Black racism in all areas and functions of the organization including:  

  • Formed The Center’s Black LGBTQ Community Advisory Committee, this group meets monthly and is made up of members and guardians of the Black LGBTQ community to advise and guide The Center's board and staff in our work to better serve the Black community
  • Established and dedicated programming for the Black LGBTQ community, including Brave Space and Heal Thy Soul, peer-led discussion and empowerment groups
  • Conducting regular trainings and meetings dedicated to anti-Black racism for all Center staff, Board members, and volunteers
  • Working in coalition with social justice partner agencies to advocate for police reform and housing policy to prioritize housing insecure and unhoused Black LGBTQ people
  • Launched the Volunteer J.E.D.I. Group, a volunteer-centered effort to promote and expand Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within the volunteer program and community.
  • Created safer Center facilities where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and supported. We now require that law enforcement come to community spaces in plain clothes and unarmed so that everyone feels safe, as we continue to reexamine The Center’s relationship with law enforcement
  • Writing explicit priorities and goals for engaging the Black LGBTQ community into The Center’s Strategic Plan
  • Reexamining and adjusting The Center’s operational and communications practices, including a revision of The Center’s recruitment and interview practices for Center jobs to reduce barriers and bias

While Black History Month was founded to celebrate the achievements of the Black community in U.S. history, The Center would also like to take a moment to uplift the tremendous work by Black LGBTQ organizations taking place right now in our own region. The following are all San Diego based, Black-led LGBTQ organizations and we encourage you to learn about, work alongside, and give to them in whatever ways you are able.

The Center encourages everyone to take time this month, and all year long, to explore ways they can uplift the Black community, actively demonstrate that Black Lives Matter, and combat anti-Black racism.

In solidarity,

-Cara Dessert (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)Chief Executive Officer