Companies Aren’t Doing Black History Month Correctly

Myajah Johnson, Assistant Opinion Editor

For years, during Black History Month, companies have been trying to be inclusive and show their support to the black community. While their efforts are much appreciated, rather than being inclusive they’re being intrusive. 

As the years go by and the fight for racial equity has become a more common topic amongst all kinds of people, numerous companies have started to attempt to contribute to Black History Month. They’ll have posters/signs in their stores voicing their stance with the community and their admiration and respect for African-Americans.

While the intentions are there, some companies overdo it so much to the point where it comes off as ingenuine and almost laughable.

It is also clear that companies capitalize off of the month. This can be seen through the material that they promote. They throw some random things together with little to no care expecting people to buy it and make a profit simply because it’s Black History Month.

Take Bath and Body Works for example, an establishment I’m sure many adore. This year they came out with a Black History Month collection, but their execution was very questionable. For one, they’re not even new scents. They’re old scents with new packaging.

Now, the packaging is what really set me off. It was clear that there was minimal effort and the traditional African patterns that they attempted to use were downplayed and whitewashed by the addition of hearts and random squiggles. This came off as offensive. If they wanted to do something, they could have put in more effort and research to display this in a more accurate way.

In 2020 Barnes & Noble re-released classic books written by white authors and changed the covers of the famous white character to new black characters. Doing this, looking at what they did and thinking that it was okay was completely ignorant.

Companies only recognize the struggle of the African-American community on a surface level. They say a few “heartfelt words of encouragement” or do a very small act, failing to truly acknowledge and grasp the depth and true struggle of the community

Some companies even do it not because of their genuinity, but because they feel an obligation to. If they don’t acknowledge Black History Month, they’re seen as unprogressive. So, their fear of being called out by the public is their drive to support the community, not their earnest desire to show their support. 

The importance of Black History Month is to educate people on historical African-American achievements as well as pay tribute to the Black culture.

But, why are we confining celebrating Black excellence to only one month? Not to mention, the shortest one. America decided to dedicate the shortest month to celebrating black history as a way to shut people up. Companies recognize African-Americans during the month, and never speak of it again, but the movement is much more than that.

This further proves that they’re only doing this to avoid getting “canceled.”

Something else that larger companies have been failing to do is getting black-owned businesses involved. It’s crucial to give black-owned businesses recognition, especially during a month dedicated to celebrating black success.

Considering this, it’s important to applaud Target’s contribution. On their website and in-store, they have a whole Black History Month collection of things from black-owned businesses. They even included students from HBCUs by having them create designs for different clothing pieces. This is a good representation of how things should be done.

I, for one, am tired of companies having no care when it comes to the material that they put out during Black History Month, and capitalizing off of it. To all the companies out there, do better, because frankly, it’s insulting.