Black History is Active
“I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually…the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright” (9). James Baldwin, Autobiographical Notes from Notes of a Native Son.
I always come back to James Baldwin and how his being Black, gay, and growing up in poverty informed his fight for an intersectional Black Liberation. This quote comes from the introduction of his book of essays Notes of a Native Son, which itself does a powerful job of outlining the historic and encompassing impact of structural racism in everything from pop culture and media to policy and the lived experience of segregation and poverty.
I choose this quote specifically because it clearly outlines steps one needs to address and change structural racism and inequity. Breaking it down into its three parts, Baldwin models that we:
- Call out the faults our system proactively and always,
- Examine what is currently being done to address inequity and be open to change
- Do what one can personally alongside and through our communities
Here’s how you can live Baldwin’s words this Black History Month and every month when it comes to housing and homelessness.
Texas is currently in a legislative session year, so now is an opportune time to call out our housing system’s inequities. There are a number of bills that impact our communities directly, and community participation in advocacy efforts is crucial in bringing necessary change. You can participate in Texas Homeless Network’s Homeless Action Day and talk with your local representatives and senators. Take action this legislative session with THN’s Advocacy.
Learn what policies and actions historically impact Black communities and how these effects are still happening in your local community. Acknowledge who is involved in making changes and who is being left out. We have to be open to modifying the principles that support and maintain existing systems. To do this, we have to know our history, listen, and actively involve our neighbors with lived expertise to deconstruct and rebuild in a more equitable manner instead of continuing to bandage a broken system.
Exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, last week’s winter storm and its aftermath have impacted Black and brown communities the hardest due to historical inequities in housing. Communities have banded together to survive this storm, and you can find more information on where to give and access assistance here.
Black history is happening every day. You can find a list of content to watch and read further below.
Further Readings & Content
A Brief Timeline of Race & Homelessness in America
NPR: Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History
Judas and the Black Messiah (HBO Max)
Ava DuVernay’s 13TH (also on Netflix)
The Pieces I Am
I Am Not Your Negro (on Netflix & Kanopy)