RRHA’s Vice President of Housing on Celebrating Black History Month Together

February has been recognized as Black History Month since 1970 following years of honoring “Negro History Week.” Each year, there is a new theme for Black History Month, and this year’s theme is “Black Health and Wellness.”

A few well-known Black and African American public figures, i.e. Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle, Simone Biles etc., have begun speaking out on some of the extraordinary health and wellness, particularly mental health, obstacles and barriers faced in their community with racism being at the heart of these barriers.    

“Healing the wounds and building a society in which people of diverse backgrounds live as a member of one family are the most pressing issues that confront our society today,” Vice President of Housing, Evangeline Richie, said.

Celebrating as a community allows us the opportunity to find commonalities. Digging deep into history and studying things that sometimes may not be taught in schools makes us better educated. Some of these examples may be the Tulsa Race Massacre and the Ax Handle Saturday in Jacksonville, Fl. When we are better educated, we may be more apt to respect differences, which will then start bringing us together as we begin to better understand.

“The substance of finding empathy and compassion, is finding commonalties. This will allow us to examine compassion and finding those commonalities and will also allow us to examine the barriers that we’ve overcome together, so that we might eliminate those obstructions to pave the way for growth, innovation, and comradery.”

As a society we have taken small steps to best educate one another which has provided a step in the right direction to racial harmony.

“The new celebration and recognition of Juneteenth and the awareness of the proclamation of emancipating slaves bring us forward to rebuilding together. This has brought new awareness to the inequities and systematic issues that affect everyone, and with it greater activism and social justice efforts.”

Richie invites you to reflect upon our history continuously by taking opportunities to listen to others’ stories and ask questions in a respectful manner to best understand where someone came from. While we take the opportunity to celebrate certain individuals who paved the way for others, consider what the outcome would have been if that person had not been held back.

“Ask yourself what would have come if this individual was not held back, what would it have meant if their energy had been devoted to their chosen field and not overcoming challenges of racism, and then ask, how can we empower others to reach their full potential.”