There’s an interesting thing about history that is worth pondering: it is created every second of every day, but once made, it cannot be changed. Black History in America is no different. It’s a unique blend of heroism and horror such that we really cannot take one without the other.
A year ago, American Black History did not contain the name, George Floyd. History was created over the span of 8 minutes and 46 seconds as police officers demonstrated their utter disdain for the life of a black man, essentially helping to cement a long-running narrative that some lives mattered less than others. And thus, a new chapter in Black History was created, albeit at the expense of yet another human life.
With that new chapter – which I should add is still being written – came an elevated level of awareness, including corporate awareness. American businesses took stock and started to recognize where and how they could do their part to short circuit the existing narrative. The most sincere organizations are putting their money where their mouths are, investing in inclusive initiatives that extend beyond just skin color to an even broader swath of marginalized groups in America.
The outpouring of support for the Black community was amazing to watch. Were there political consequences? Probably. Once again, it’s worth remembering that at this time last year, the United States had never elected a female Vice President. On January 7, 2021 – in spite of stiff, last-minute opposition that pushed business into a second day – a black female was given the green light to be sworn in as Vice President on the 20th of that same month, just in time for Black History Month. Another new chapter in Black History!
There’s a running theme here that I hope is obvious to most: to short Black History is to short American History. To say George Floyd was dragged into the annals of Black History would be an understatement, but to not have a vehicle for connecting the dots and showing how America was forced to grow up would be its own crime. With all of this in mind, I hope we can all find our way to write good history each day.