Why we observe Black History Month

Written by Raymond Cabbab and Gabrielle Esteves

Mikaila Kelsy has a dream.

Kelsy, a first year Bachelor of Film and Television student, is a budding entrepreneur. She believes it is important to celebrate Black History Month because it’s a moment when society can pause and recognize the black community’s hopes, successes, achievements and the progress yet to come.

Mikaila Kelsy

“It’s just really important to celebrate because black people, throughout our daily lives, sometimes we may get disrespected or feel unprotected by our society. I think it’s really important to remember things that we’ve done for ourselves,” said Kelsy.

Mikaila runs an online clothing, accessories, and cosmetics store called, Simple Times The Brand. She believes that, as hard as circumstances may get, anything is possible.

“I just have a more glass half full mentality,” she said. “If it was impossible, Beyoncé wouldn’t be Beyoncé, if it was impossible, Oprah would not be Oprah.”

The reason why Black History Month is celebrated is nuanced. First, it’s important to honour the history and adversity the black community has historically faced. Another is to recognize the progress made in terms of the enfranchisement of the black community.

Jane Ngobia, Vice-President of Inclusive Communities, says recognizing Black History provides an opportunity to share and learn about the contributions, experiences and achievements of people of African ancestry.

Jane Ngobia, VP of Inclusive Communities at Sheridan College

“In the month of February, we reflect on Black excellence past and present. This year, Sheridan’s community is in collaboration with external community partners who’ve formed an ad hoc committee to coordinate multiple events scheduled throughout the three campuses over the month of February. We invite all community members to join in celebrating Black excellence,” said Ngobia.

However, we must also recognize the hardships people in the black community still encounter today.

For example, from 2005 to 2015, the black inmate population grew by 69% according to a recent report.

Another report prepared by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that between 2013 and 2017, a black person in Toronto was 20 times more likely to be fatally shot by a police officer than a white person.

Though Black History Month highlights how far we’ve come, it also shows us how far we still need to go. 

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About Gabrielle Esteves 14 Articles
Gabrielle Esteves is a journalism student with a passion for sports, TV and writing. She’s also fluent in English, French and Portuguese!