MONTREAL -- Black History Month has always been an important time of mobilization, congregation, and knowledge exchange for our community. In some respects, it is my favourite time of the year, and in another sense, I recognize that it is an immensely labour-intensive month for Black communities.

In the last year, we’ve witnessed a substantial culture shift for collective responsibility and solidarity towards Black lives and as we enter Black History Month 2021, I have been reflecting on how this Black History month is different from our last. Not as an exercise of enumerating the various initiatives that have been funded and supported in the last year but rather as a moment to reflect on how we are doing things differently and what I hope to see next.

As a member of the Black community, I have been most impressed by our collective ability to inhabit unfamiliar spaces. Much of the response to the Black Lives Matter movement has been to pull on the expertise of our community and bring us into conversations and spaces that implicitly and explicitly excluded us for generations. The learning curve is steep and demanding yet here we are, adapting and innovating.

As a member of Concordia’s community, I’ve witnessed an unprecedented level of self-reflection and interest that has allowed for the catalyst of anti-racist advocacy to be propagated in spaces I would never have anticipated. On a personal level, I have seen myself become less timid and more transparent with my visions for a better future, which has allowed for reciprocal generosity in unpredicted forms.

I celebrate these less obvious moments of success because I believe they are the seeds of the larger structural shifts I hope to see in our institution and society. As we continue to nurture those seeds, I hope to see more self-compassion from my fellow Black community members, I hope to see more proactive involvement and less of a tentative engagement from my fellow Concordia community members. As for myself, I hope to learn to better share the load in the ways of my ancestors who have l always preached that ‘men anpil chay pa lou’ [Haitian creole proverb: many hands, light load].

Annick Maugile Flavien and Angélique Willkie are the co-chairs of Concordia University’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism. Read Angélique Willkie's opinion piece 'Reflections on Black History Month: Black history is everybody’s history,' here