A corporate, commodified Black History Month is taking hold. We can’t let it | Malaika Jabali

Instead of transformative changes, we get Black History Month-themed Apple Watches and Black sitcom collections on Netflix

Black History Month, the annual commemoration of Black history in the United States that originated with Carter G Woodson’s Negro History Week, is winding down. I have to admit, this year’s celebration is among the worst yet. Instead of providing a platform to explore the rich history of Black people in America, this month has been a billboard for commodified representations of Blackness. Commercializing holidays and co-opting Black culture are both standard practices in America. Like the pat Black Lives Matter virtue signalling last June, branded co-optation of Black history has been rampant. For some, this visibility may indicate that Black people have advanced.

But what I see is an admission: powerful elected officials and corporations in the US resort to symbolism and token opportunities, because they’d rather not offer anything else. In a system that relies on exploiting labor and directing resources to an elite minority, actually advancing the health and prosperity of the masses of Black people undermines the exploitation that capitalism relies on.

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A corporate, commodified Black History Month is taking hold. We can’t let it | Malaika Jabali