How to celebrate Black History Month in the Inland Northwest, at home or on the town

click to enlarge EWU's senior diversity officer, Shari Clarke, recommends a Hidden Figures viewing.

EWU’s senior diversity officer, Shari Clarke, recommends a Hidden Figures viewing.

In February we welcome the beginning of Black History Month, a month of reflection about how our country’s history with slavery, segregation and racism has impacted the lives of Black Americans. If you’re wondering how to best acknowledge, recognize or reflect during this time, February is packed with events where you can go show your support. And if you’d rather celebrate from home, there are plenty of informational (and entertaining!) books and movies at your disposal that can help you learn a thing or two.

The arts have always been a space for reflection, especially in times of crisis. The Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center is holding an exhibition titled Home: Imagining the Irrevocable. This exhibition features works created by Eastern Washington Black artists and will run Feb. 4-26. The exhibition features artists of various disciplines exploring the idea and concept of “home” and seeks to define what “home” is for Black Americans.

Throughout the month the Garland Theater will be running a Black History Month Film Series; next up is Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington on Feb. 8, with films later in the month still to be determined. Along with the films, the Garland is also hosting Wine Flight Nights featuring Black winemakers. The first event features Brown Vineyards from Napa Valley on Feb. 9, and the second is from Maison Noir on Feb. 23. There will also be a whiskey flight night on Feb. 16 featuring libations from Uncle Nearest Whiskey, a Black-owned distillery.

If you’ve got every streaming service imaginable, there are films and TV shows right at your fingertips that can serve as a learning tool for you or your family.

Shari Clarke, who serves as Eastern Washington University’s vice president for diversity and senior diversity officer, says that movies and books are a great way to celebrate Black History Month.

“I always recommend the movie Hidden Figures,” Clarke says. “It tells a remarkable story” of three Black women who played a vital role in the NASA program in the 1960s. It’s loosely based on a true story about three female mathematicians who were heavily involved at NASA during the space race.

As for films to watch with your family, Clarke recommends a semi-recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Panther is so good for the family,” she says. “It really helps affirm young children who need that representation in their lives.” The sequel to Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is slated for November. Catch up on your Marvel lore in preparation for the new film and learn about marginalized identities at the same time.

Clarke also has a recommendation for the binge-watcher in all of us.

Black-ish on Hulu,” Clarke says. “While it’s a comedy, it still has serious tones, and it does a great job at showing how that specific Black family functions within society and within their own community. Of course it’s just one look at a very affluent Black family, but it’s valuable nonetheless.”

Now, a little something for the bookworms. Reading is one of the best ways to self-inform and self-educate. Clarke recommends Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming and the classic Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. The booksellers at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane are constantly updating the anti-racist reading list on the store’s website, Recommendations include fiction like The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which conquers topics like “passing” and generational trauma, to deep-dive non-fiction reads into the topic of white fragility and White Nationalism— notable highlights are How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.

Support your local Black community during Black History Month and buy from Black-owned businesses. The Black Lens keeps an updated list of every Black-owned business and resource in Spokane on its website. In celebration of Black History Month, the Wonder Building is hosting a Black Business Expo on Saturday, Feb. 5. There’s no cost to enter the event, which will highlight 20-30 Black-owned businesses in the Spokane community. Not only will there be goods to purchase, but many organizations that provide resources and services in Spokane will be there, ready to talk and engage with the community they serve.

However you decide to celebrate Black History Month, come away from it having learned more about your country, your community and why it’s important that we dedicate the month of February to education and reflection. ♦

Article Source: Inlander