Here at Shout Mouse, we see Black History Month as an opportunity to look at the past and think about how and why history matters for the present and the future. Of course, we don’t believe in confining the celebration of black history to just one month. Nor do we want to devalue the significance of what Black History Month is and means.
We think it is important to remember that Black history is still being made in 2017. We continue to celebrate many “firsts” including the election of the first Black woman as Harvard Law Review’s president. And we still have a long way and many more “firsts” to go.
Black history month (especially in schools) often focuses on the past as if Civil Rights issues have been resolved. However, we believe that some of the challenges from the civil rights movement persist today. Just in the past few years, society has been confronted with questions of the nature of police brutality, mass incarceration, the Flint water crisis and other racially-charged inequalities.
Our authors have confronted some of the questions of the past and present, and what that means for the future with titles like Our Lives Matter and the upcoming The Day Tajon Got Shot. Both projects began with a mission of changing historically pervasive narratives about minorities.
The authors of Our Lives Matter undertook this challenge by telling their own stories in their own voices. This is especially incredible when you consider that much of what has been determined “black history” was not written in the voice or perspective of black people at all and that black history is still considered an elective (deemed “other”) in many institutions.
The writers of Tajon approach sensitive subject matter with empathy and tell the story of a police-involved shooting from almost every possible perspective, including that of the white police officer, even considering how “history” plays a major part in the way black youth are perceived by the police, media, and society.
Further, the title of the Untold Story of the Real Me speaks for itself in its objective to tell an unheard story about the young people who are incarcerated in the mere dawn of their lives.
Now is a good time to think hard about why these problems our authors continue to confront are still problems. It is also important to remember that a civil rights issue for black people is a human rights issue for all.
Happy Black History Month.