Clear out your schedule to make way for these important celebrations
As February begins, one better make space in their calendar for the number of events that will be happening this month. For indeed, the second month of the year will be full of activities because of “Black History Month,” a title that was given in 1926 as a celebration of African-American heritage. BHM today has seriously moved away from “African-american” heritage to completely encompass ALL of black culture.
During this month, a number of galleries aim to showcase works by black artists, and Concordia is no different. The Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) has recently selected their artists for the month’s pop-up exhibitions around campus, they encouraged “submissions by all artists who identify as a person of African descent.” Interesting choice of words FASA, black and African are not synonymous. Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square!
While dedicating a part of the year for minorities certainly is an important step towards inclusion, it is also important to remember that these artists are there all year—and should be celebrated every day; not only as Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, (BIPOC), but as artists, and most importantly as human beings.
In any case, here are some things happening this February.
Jan. 27 marked three years since the Quebec mosque shooting, and Cinema Politica screened The Mosque: a community struggle in memoriam, and on Feb. 3, there was a screening of First Voices: an evening of Indigenous cinema as part of First Voices Week—and many more initiatives.
The prestigious annual Vision Celebration Gala, hosted by Black Theatre Workshop, is the official launching pad for Montreal’s Black History Month celebrations that took place on Feb. 1. Their Facebook event describes it as an event serving to pay homage to outstanding Black artist changemakers who contribute to the development of arts in Canada. It celebrates the vision of growth, solidarity and unity inspired by the great historical figure, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Stay tuned for my coverage of this next week.)
Many organizations are making sure to give a platform to black voices. For example, Phi, a centre for contemporary art offers Le Mois de l’histoire des Noirs: prendre la parole chez Phi. At the Cinémathèque Québécoise, there is a series of movies celebrating black lives, and honouring their history for the entire month of February—especially the renowned Kenbe la, jusqu’à la victoire. Shot between Haiti and Montreal, it is the story of an artist and militant, a black woman, who in spite of her sickness, strives to create a permaculture project.
February is not only reserved for the black community when it comes to Montreal but for a number of people of colour. For example, Cinema Politica at Concordia has made it their moral imperative to showcase a movie each week about POCs’ struggles—from First Nations to the Black community.
While at times it could be on a positive note and a sort of honouring, one can’t help but wonder why they all get crammed into 28, sometimes 29 days. Spotlight on BIPOC artists should be unlimited, not constrained to the shortest month of the year.
Graphic by @sundaeghost.