Black History Month and Our Impact on the Future

Black History Month - African American father reads a book to his daughter
Written by: David Davenport Contributing author Healing Arts Institute

February is Black History Month, a time when we reflect on the accomplishments and contributions of the African American community to our society.

The origins of Black History Month officially date back to 1915 when the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In 1926, the second week of February was designated as “Negro History Week”, but it would take another 50 years before the celebration expanded to encompass the entire month of February.

While the concept of Black History Month was conceived in the United States, other countries now recognize their own versions including Canada, the United Kingdom, and most recently the Republic of Ireland.

Theme of Black History Month 2021 – The Black Family

This year’s theme focuses on the black family which is at the heart and soul of our mission at Healing Arts Institute. While black families have integrated into many different cultures throughout the world, they face unique challenges and a shared sense of unity regardless of where they live.

The commemoration of black history offers representation to the diversity among black families as well as their shared cultural and national identities.

Challenges Facing Black Families

Social scholars, medical practitioners, and representatives in government have tried to address certain challenges facing black communities and families in the United States for decades. Among the most pressing is the fragility of the black family. Black children are far more likely to grow up in single parent households than other racial groups and are at higher risk for dropping out of school and becoming pregnant at an early age.

The emotional stress which is inflicted by these circumstances are compounded by an increased likelihood that black families may have limited economic support from friends and family during hard times. Black families are far more likely to have more than one family member unemployed, and the inter-generational inheritance of wealth is far below that of other racial groups.

As a result, these children may not have access to new experiences or perspectives that can change the way they see the world. They may not have positive mentors to guide them or role models to look up to. They remain trapped in a mental prison that makes it almost impossible to break the cycle of poverty and violence.

While struggling with these conditions, it is crucial that black children and families have the resources to navigate these socioeconomic complexities and maintain healthy family relationships.

Healing Arts Institute’s Service to Black Communities

Healing Arts delivers critical services to black families in Broward by providing mental and behavioral health therapy at no charge. Stressful social circumstances and economic hardship can put a lot of strain on families who are already struggling to succeed.

It is not uncommon for black families to rely heavily on public transportation. Without the ability to travel, making appointments with a therapist can be difficult. That is why we provide our services directly within the homes and schools of our clients. We believe in the tradition of making house calls so our families receive the care they need.

We strive to be a pillar of support and comfort to those who otherwise might not have access to us.

Healing Arts Institute’s Regions of Impact

The impact of children who grow up with emotional and social deficiencies can be felt throughout entire communities. It is a legacy that feeds upon itself creating multi-generational dependencies on government programs and a distrust of protective institutions such as law enforcement and education.

At least 58% of our clients are from communities whose residents earn below the individual median income for Broward county. These areas include Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, and the greater Fort Lauderdale area.

We operate in areas where we are needed the most to benefit children and families.

How You Can Help

You can help us hire more experienced full-time therapists. Help give them the tools that they need to go directly to the children who need our help. We want to be able to maintain one full-time professional for each program we offer in at-risk communities.

Donate to our Community Heroes Campaign today. Your donation goes towards providing tele-health, in home, and school based therapeutic services for students and their families who are uninsured or under insured. All of our services are free of cost to the children and families who need us.

Join us for another Tennie Talk – Black History Month – Wednesday Feb 10th 7:00PM EST on Zoom

Hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, join Dr. Thelma Tennie as she discusses:

  • Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in Black Communities
  • Tips on How to End Mental Health Stigma
  • How to Seek Culturally Competent Care
  • Questions to ask a Therapist Before Starting Therapy

Citations:

Nicole Arlette Hirsch and Anthony Abraham Jack. 2012. “”What We Face: Framing Problems in the Black Community”.” Du Bois Review, 9, 1.

“Disadvantage for Black Families Compounded by Economic Circumstances of Kin – Population Reference Bureau.” PRB.Org, PRB.org, 16 Apr. 2020, www.prb.org/disadvantage-for-black-families-compounded-by-economic-circumstances-of-kin.

ASALH – The Founders of Black History Month. “ASALH – The Founders of Black History Month | BLACK HISTORY THEMES.” ASALH | The Founders of Black History Month (Est. 1915), 25 Jan. 2021, asalh.org/black-history-themes.

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