February is the annual observation of Black History Month! Not only is this month an opportunity to understand Black histories across the world, but also to celebrate Black achievement and contributions in both the past and present.
This year, we would like to shine the spotlight on some of our very own #TIATeam members in a Q&A about their experiences and culture. In this blog, we shine the spotlight on Zuhur Ahmed, Mahi Yordanos, Chelsea Moore, and Kaela Johnson!
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
“We all have shared experiences that allow us to connect.”
“Knowing that I come from such a rich history and beautiful culture!”
“The united community and unique experience that connects us all.”
“I love the shared experience of being Black that makes you feel so connected, despite our differences. Whether it’s similar childhood stories, exchanging a look in public, or just inside jokes that only you understand. And I love that we’ve extended and created these spaces online like with Black Twitter or BlackTok.”
“The music, food, clothes from thousands of cultures.“
“The energy! It is always so lively!”
“The mix of different cultures – food, music, traditions, and customs. Relates to the connectedness that’s felt in being Black.”
“As a Somali person we have many cultural practices that we participate in but my favourite is Buraanbur folk dance that incorporates unique poetry.“
“As an Ethiopian, there are many unique cultural practices that I enjoy, but my favourite has to be our coffee ceremonies.”
“One of the highlights of my year is Carnival! Very fortunate that we will have Caribana in the city and hopefully it will take place this year. Fingers crossed!”
“My parents were born and raised in Trinidad and moved to Toronto in the early 90s before having me. They do have moments where they miss home and they’ve always made a point to integrate their culture and customs here. They did a good job of raising me to appreciate the Trini culture and this includes a love for Carnival! It’s such a joyful time where the city is lit up and everyone having the best time dancing on the road (or “on d road” as we’d say it!). Toronto’s version of this is Caribana and I’m looking forward to being on d road again after 2 years!”
“Waris Dirie, a Somali author and activist against female genital mutation and Warsan Shire, a Somali poet that was featured in Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’. I love seeing Black women who share my culture do amazing things.”
“There are so many, but if I had to pick, they would be Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou.”
“During quarantine, I was watching a lot of Netflix and learned about Madam C.J. Walker. She’s an entrepreneur that is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She would use her riches to fund scholarships for women and donate to many charities.”
“Simone Biles — the GOAT! The accomplishments of her countless medals and eponymous skills aren’t the only reasons why she’s so inspirational. I really admired when she stood up for her mental health and wellbeing at the Olympics and put herself first.”
“I feel proud to be Black every day I wake up, seeing my friends and family be their unapologetic selves.”
“In general, just knowing the history of my people and the amazing things we’ve accomplished… that’s what makes me proud!!”
“Always! Looking through my family tree and the history of Black people there is a strength that is truly incomparable.”
“All. The. Time! It just feels SO great to see my Black family members, peers, entertainers, athletes, politicians achieve their goals and inspire the world, despite all the challenges set up against us. We’re so resilient and seeing their success gets me inspired and motivated — like ‘YES! We did that and I can too!'”
Imagine a regular day in your life.
Get up in the morning, do a quick stretch, head to the bathroom to freshen up. The modern toilet was invented by Thomas Elkins so without that … best of luck there.
For breakfast, you’re feeling for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich… Crunchy or smooth is the question before remembering that peanut butter in all its glory doesn’t exist without George Washington Carver.
Breakfast was not a success, but maybe you can grab during your run to the grocery store. Jump in your vehicle, but drive slowly and very carefully because, without Garrett Morgan, there is no traffic light.
On your ride, you turn on the radio – but there’s no Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Kendrick Lamar, Prince or any other music playing from Black musical icons. Some of your favourite iconic hits, just don’t exist.
After a long and tedious drive, you decide to stop at the grocery store to grab food for dinner. Shopping produce is no easy feat (when is it ever?) though as all produce has gone bad. Without Frederick McKinley Jones, the development of refrigerated trucks for keeping goods on trucks cold never happened.
Maybe something else will satisfy the urge, potato chips perhaps? You’re outta luck without George Crum who actually created the potato chip by accident.
With a failed grocery store run, you decide to go home and get some chores done instead. First on the list is the laundry! Once it’s done, you realize you have to air dry EVERYTHING, because if it wasn’t for George Sampson, the automatic dryer doesn’t exist.
We’re barely through half the day, but as you can see the contributions made by the Black community extend far and wide. From popular culture to innovation and invention, their accomplishments impact our daily lives. We acknowledge their contribution and celebrate them today and every day.
Happy Black History Month!12
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