February is Black History Month — a time to honor Black voices. Though this should be a year-round pursuit, as entertainment professionals it’s an excellent time to bring your celebration of Black excellence center stage. From brushing up on your history to supporting Black artists of today, here are 5 overall ways to celebrate Black History Month.
1. Learn about Black history through the arts.
Educate yourself on Black History in your preferred learning style. If you’re auditory, listen to a podcast like Black History Year. If you’re a visual learner, find documentaries or films on a topic underneath the BHM umbrella. There are countless ways to expand your mind on the subject through artistic efforts.
2. Support Black business owners.
Black-owned businesses are amplified in the media this time of year, making it easier than ever to find and support them. Relating to the entertainment industry, consider donating to a Black creator’s film fundraising campaign or purchasing a painting from a Black artist on Etsy. If your budget is tight, simply spreading the word about Black businesses on social media or to friends is a lovely way to engage.
3. Read books by Black authors.
Literature is one of the most wonderful avenues to honoring Black voices and stories all year long. Your local bookstore hopefully has a Black History Month section you can browse (and if they do not, perhaps ask the manager why). If you’re more of an online shopper, check out this comprehensive list from Oprah Daily. I recommend starting with Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred,” which is currently being adapted for the small screen.
4. Watch Black-centered TV shows and films.
One of the most fun routes for people in the entertainment industry to celebrate this month is by doing our next favorite thing to making art—watching art! Most major streaming platforms from Netflix to HBO Max have curated libraries dedicated to Black stories. While watching films that chronicle the realities of racism is important, it is equally vital to celebrate Black joy. And 2022 sees plenty of TV shows and movies that do just that.
5. Support Black organizations.
The best way to support any community is through giving. Depending on your status, consider giving your time as a volunteer, making a monetary donation, or both. Since we’re celebrating this month through the lens of the entertainment business, consider supporting an organization centered there. On a nationwide scale, Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, as well as the NAACP are wonderful options. Of course, it’s always optimal to lift up your local organizations. From film festivals to local chapters of major charities, do your due diligence.
Robert Peterpaul is a writer and actor who can be seen in James Franco’s film “King Cobra,” T-Mobile ad campaigns, and Amazon Prime’s “New Dogs, Old Tricks.” Other career highlights include working on NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “America’s Got Talent,” BUILD Series, writing for HuffPost, and his family’s nonprofit, the Thomas Peterpaul Foundation, which aims to end pediatric cancer. Robert currently serves as the weekend editor for HOLA! USA. He’s studied at the Barrow Group, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, UCB and earned a B.A. from Marist College (go, Red Foxes!). Robert thanks you for reading and hopes you’ll follow your bliss! www.robertpeterpaul.com