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Exploring Black History Month – The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity

Exploring Black History Month – The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity
Posted on Monday, February 8, 2021 by Jamon Harrell

Did you know Black History month has a theme every year?


Since 1928, a theme has been chosen for Black History Month as an anchor revolving around current events and necessary meditations on specific cultural challenges. In 1976, when Gerald Ford first officially recognized Black History Month, the theme was America for All Americas.

This year in 2021, the theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” which explores the African diaspora (the dispersion of any people from their original homeland) as well as the history and challenges faced by Black families across the United States. 

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, “The Black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy. Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time.

The Black family knows no single location, since family reunions and genetic-ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations and continents. Not only are individual black families diasporic, but Africa and the diaspora itself have been long portrayed as the black family at large. While the role of the black family has been described by some as a microcosm of the entire race, its complexity as the “foundation” of African American life and history can be seen in numerous debates over how to represent its meaning and typicality from a historical perspective—as slave or free, as patriarchal or matriarchal/matrifocal, as single-headed or dual-headed household, as extended or nuclear, as fictive kin or blood lineage, as legal or common law, and as black or interracial, etc.

Variation appears, as well, in discussions on the nature and impact of parenting, childhood, marriage, gender norms, sexuality, and incarceration. The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present.” 

Recently, I was able to sit down with our compliance expert, Bruce Gillis to discuss the importance of Black History Month and a few tips and activities that can be used in the workplace to further promote DE&I initiatives across any organization. Watch below. 

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