Black excellence. It’s the celebration of success in the Black community. However, its purpose goes far beyond simply highlighting individual achievements. Black excellence is a mindset backed by actions that display leadership through perseverance. The true purpose of these actions is to advance the Black community.
The phrase “Black excellence” may have just recently become embedded in our collective consciousness, but its origins are deeply rooted in the triumphs of those who championed progress during the Civil Rights Movement.
Building on the narratives of pioneers who defined Black excellence, today’s leaders are blazing trails that strengthen the Black community in new and exciting ways. These leaders include Amanda Gorman, a young poet whose passion for exploring oppression and feminism within the Black experience earned her the opportunity to share her inspired voice with the world during last month’s presidential inauguration. Professional athlete Colin Kaepernick put his successful NFL career on the line to protest police brutality against minorities. And politician Andrea Jenkins became the first Black and openly trans woman to hold an elected office position in the U.S. government.
The activism of these leaders — along with countless other champions of Black excellence — is transforming what it means to be Black in modern America.
Why It’s Important to Celebrate Black Excellence in the Workplace
For trailblazing business leaders, a powerful way to practice leadership through inclusion is recognizing and celebrating the various cultures of your employees. An important element of celebrating Black culture in the workplace is recognizing Black excellence.
What does it mean to celebrate Black excellence in the workplace? It means establishing an ongoing dialogue and developing resources that encourage your employees to learn about, recognize and support Black culture. Being a champion of Black excellence in the workplace not only supports your Black employees, but it also normalizes cultures that have been largely marginalized and unseen throughout American history.
Actions That Show Care and Empower Black Culture
In honor of Black History Month, we’ll explore seven ways your organization can celebrate Black excellence in February — and throughout the year.
1. Support Black-owned businesses
Supporting Black entrepreneurs and businesses is one way to give directly to the Black community. Creating intention to source your work-related materials from Black-owned businesses and encourage your employees to shop at Black-owned businesses are impactful forms of economic empowerment. There are several resources for locating Black-owned businesses in your area.
- Use Spendefy and Support Black Owned to find shops near you.
- We Buy Black is one of the largest online marketplaces for Black-owned businesses.
- Mobile app EatOkra is a guide to Black-owned restaurants in your area.
- Official Black Wall Street locates nearby businesses. This app features push notifications that alert you when new Black-owned shops come to your area.
2. Discover local and national Black history
The history of Black people in America predates the establishment of the U.S. as a nation. Highlighting local and industry-related connections to Black history may help your employees discover the rich history of the places they live and work. There are many ways to learn about local and national Black history.
- Many museums teach us about Black history, art and culture. Here’s a directory of all the African American museums in the U.S.
- Black Past is a 6,000-page reference center dedicated to providing information on Black history and African ancestry throughout the world.
- The National Archives’ African American Heritage center has tons of great resources to explore, including information on Black Power and a Guide to Black History.
- Interested in stats? Check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s fact sheet to learn about the Black population in America.
3. Learn about important Black organizations
There are countless organizations throughout the U.S. that specialize in supporting Black communities. Learning about some of the most prominent ones may help you understand how to offer better support to your Black employees and your local Black community.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) defends the equality of rights to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensures the health and well-being of all people. Check out your local NAACP chapter.
- National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering the Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) communities, including people living with HIV or AIDS.
- National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining Black communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity in the U.S. and through interactions related to the African Diaspora.
- National Urban League is a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization with direct services that improve the lives of nearly 2 million people nationwide.
- Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) promotes, studies, preserves, interprets and disseminates information about Black life, history and culture.
4. Offer volunteer services and donations to organizations in Black communities
Volunteering and donating are regular components of today’s employee experience. Encouraging employees to donate their time and money to local Black organizations offers support that builds strength in Black communities.
- GuideStar provides a vast network of searchable nonprofits that serve Black communities.
- Black Girls Code offers classes, programs and resources that equip women and girls of color with the tools to build successful careers in the tech industry.
- 100 Black Men of America is a mentorship program that teaches Black youth about the importance being agents of positivity in their communities.
- You can also start your own social giving campaign and encourage employees to donate funds to an organization that supports Black excellence in your community.
5. Promote Black art and entertainment
We live in a time that gives us instant access to consuming and sharing entertainment like never before. Include the works of Black creators and Black culture in your workplace conversations about films, shows, music, books and podcasts. You can even create book clubs and listening or viewing parties that include the best in Black art and entertainment.
6. Attend Black-centric events
Now’s a great time to check out virtual events that celebrate Black culture and offer opportunities to learn about issues that impact Black communities.
7. Recognize Black innovators and innovations
From innovations in elevator safety to central home heating, many Black inventions have revolutionized everyday life. Highlight the accomplishments of the greatest Black minds in American history by ensuring their stories are heard throughout your organization.
These simple, yet effective actions will promote care that empowers the Black community — and they’ll also bring your workplace inclusion practices to new heights.
Want to learn more? Check out our guide to inclusion in your workplace.