Black History is American History
This year’s Black History Month theme, Black Health and Wellness, is timely given what we’ve collectively experienced for almost two years from the date the pandemic first appeared in Silicon Valley. It not only relates to the strides the Black community has made in improving physical health, but also emotional and mental health. Successes include the establishment of leading institutions like Howard University and the Provident Hospital and Training School, as well as the impact of luminaries like Jane Wright, Daniel Williams, Mae Jemison, and even Michelle Obama. But as we all know, we’ve still got a way to go, and the burden the past two years has placed on Black health care professionals. For a first-world nation, the US lags in providing equitable medical care, a gap that not only impacts people of color as we all pay the price for physical and emotional neglect.
Closer to home, this year’s theme spans two facets that weave through our daily lives. The first is the work environment, challenging at times. At Aryaka, we’ve maintained a focus on the emotional health of our employees, sharing best practices for remote workers with industry experts, establishing monthly wellness days, and bringing employees together via virtual town halls. And for recruitment, we have an emphasis on diversity, reaching out to the Latino community and women, in addition to the Black community. The second focus is on education, something that has been a major challenge for many of us over the past two years. As with the healthcare system, there are structural inequalities depending upon where you live and what schools your children attend, inequalities that result in daily stress. We must and will make improvements, and what the government plans for universal broadband access via the new Infrastructure Law is only one step in the right direction. Turning back to Aryaka, we’ve done everything in our power to support what has been at times a remote learning environment that changes daily.
So, take this opportunity during Black History Month to better understand the contributions from our black communities, as well as how to better overcome some of the challenges we collectively encounter!
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson
The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.