Reflecting on Black History Month with Sadiyah Bashir

Define Black History month and what it means to you. (especially as a Black Muslim woman)

For me Black History month represents a silencing of black voices actually; I feel like there isn’t a lot of care taken in this month. Growing up I took Black history month very seriously especially as someone who was homeschooled and had the agency to learn a lot more than the average person who went to public/private school. As I got out into the world I noticed that a lot of people who went to public/private school didn’t know a lot of figures that I knew or the depth of their story and it was never because they themselves didn’t want to but, because the teachers they had didn’t have a sense of urgency for it. I hope to see in the new generation a bigger sense of urgency for any history that isn’t a White-washed version that essentially says, “we existed once White people said we did.”

Who is your favorite person in Black History and how has he/she left a legacy of serving others?

One of my favorite people in Black history is Ida B Wells, as a writer I think the courage that she had to write about lynches and to travel alone as a Black woman in her time to do so was very revolutionary. It really shows how the depth of the heart of a writer, how far we’re willing to go to truly make sure the story is told.

Do you think Black History comes from a legacy of poverty or triumph?

I think it comes from both and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I think we do however, need to separate this idea that someone especially Black folk must suffer or expose how they’re suffered to be proven as triumphant but, I also don’t think poverty and triumph are two separate things.

Do you think humanitarian aid organizations are properly assisting the black community? If not, what can we be doing better?

No I don’t, I think there are very few who even have programs that are accessible to Black people, I think there are very few who are run by Black people and therefore have a certain level of care for our specific struggles and issues. I also think the ones that do have programs that are supposed to help Black people aid in creating an “otherness” between them and Black people to tokenize themselves as helping the poor little negroes. I think in order to be better in that you must hire and listen to the voices of Black people.

One of Penny Appeal USA’s values is innovation. Explain some innovative ways the average joe can celebrate black history month.

I think the burden should be less on Black people or people of any marginalized group to educate others on how they can better treat/learn about said group. Good is a very accessible option for a lot of people, there’s a lot of discourse at the touch of our fingers. It’s just up to you to start.

You have a baby on the way. Who are some figures and what are some fundamentals in Black History that have influenced the way you will teach your child about this subject? What type of legacy would you like to leave with him/her?

A legacy of fighting and staying steadfast in the fight. In surahtul Nisa it says to speak against injustice even if it be against yourself and I think that’s something a lot of our ancestors such as Malcolm X, Harriett Tubman etc. have modeled for us to perfectly.