Five characters from 'The Harder They Fall."

Black History Month 2023: An Archive of Joy & Next-Level Triflin’

Something about the phrase “Black History Month” really sets off something nasty in people. As we embark on another month that is supposed to be a hyper-focus on the achievements and history of Black people in addition to advocating for more of a yearlong focus, many non-Black people (and some Black people if we are being honest) are doing the most to ruin this month. This 28-day micro-blog will document Black History Month (BHM) 2023 highlighting some of the best and worst of the month.

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Every other day I will update this, so come back and revisit it. Grab a snack and pull up a chair. While obviously, there will be some grim stuff, I do have boundaries. Individuals who are openly anti-Black and racists for a living will not get an entry. That is, unless they do something extra egregious compared to their usual bigotry.

Speaking of boundaries, if you’re Black and don’t want to be inundated with caucacity, the last paragraph of each section is marked with “a win is a win.” The viral TikTok sound was created by Clifford Taylor IV. This is dedicated to something fun or worth celebrating over. These might not exactly line up with the date, though, because bad news travels faster than good news.

February 1: AP College Board and that one bake sale

The biggest news of BHM Day One was honestly the College Board taking edits to the pilot AP African American History course from a white supremacist to appease fellow haters. However, if I had to pick another story, it would be the Affirmative Action bake sale TPUSA at Clemson University in South Carolina. The org told WYFF4 that this was to show how the policies play out at Harvard and UNC. Not only is neither school in their state, but both states also feature white students as their biggest racial demographic. At Harvard, it’s over 60% white. This isn’t the first time TPUSA has done this or even pulled this stunt during Black History Month. Then again, it’s also headed by failing-upward college dropout Charlie Kirk.

A win is a win: We all learned that rapper Ice Spice is an anime/manga girly via a profile in The Cut! This is another win in a growing list of rappers! Anyone awake at the wheel and engaged with geekdom knows Black folks love anime, but it’s very cool to see her Nana, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, and Studio Ghibli‘s Howl’s Moving Castle artwork decorate her walls. Additionally, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released to streaming, becoming accessible to millions of people. Y’all are so lucky to experience this film for the first time!

February 2: Miami PD reveals ugly kente car

The event served as inspiration for this list.

One of my favorite Twitter accounts is @FuckedUpCars, so I’ve seen some ugly vehicles, okay? This police car covered in Pan-African vinyl and text that reads “Miami Police Supports Black History Month” one of the most less imaginative, ugliest, cringiest, and most offensive vehicles I’ve seen. What’s worse is that was paid for and will be upkept with taxes. The only thing “good” about this whole ordeal is the bevy of hilarious memes of people dunking on it. It goes without saying that this is the same city and county (Miami-Dade) that recently hosted a former Houston cop as chief of police, and is being investigated for corruption. It does little to help the largely Black/brown immigrant population of the area unless you count murder, fueling colorism, and ignoring predatory scams.

A win is a win: Founder of The Black Film Archive (BFA), Maya Cade, released this list of 28 movies to watch in BHM. Since its launch, I’ve visited the BFA several times and it’s an invaluable resource for viewing older movies especially. Not only is she committed to preserving the films, but Cade works to ensure the movies recommended throughout the BFA are accessible. (Most of the time free!) Quite a few of the ones I’ve watched so far from this new list are very short and can be watched on a lunch break. I don’t recommend watching a whole bunch of them at once, though. Instead, seek to sit with it. Also, read what she and others wrote about the significance and relevance of the film.

February 3: Disney tries to make Tiana biracial (again)

I get that Tiana of Princess and The Frog is from the bayou, and New Orleans to Houston is Creole country. However, this is ridiculous. I’m not trying to criticize the actress too much because (in addition to losing work) refusing could have meant letting down dozens of Black girls that traveled to see her. Disney, on the other hand, gets nearly all the blame and might have exhausted all good will from Feb. 1, 2023.

Disney carefully curates every part of the parks’ experience and this was a major letdown. Either it think we look the same or (more likely) colorism got the better of them. There is a single Black princess and she, unlike the actress chosen, is dark-complected. This is not the first time Disney tried to pass off a super-lightened Tiana. Remember the initial Wreck-Ralph 2 trailer?! This comes off the heels of Funko and Disney white-washing Naveen, the movie’s male lead.

A win is a win: This day I realized that former TMS Fandom Editor Briana Lawrence —who’s now killin’ it at Crunchyroll— continued her tradition of 28 Days of Black Cosplay! I believe she began this project here in 2021. This built off Chaka Cumberbatch’s effort to highlight Black cosplayers going back to at least 2015. Now at Crunchyroll Briana continues this tradition each week, but with a new theme! These include First Cosplay, Favorite Anime of 2022, Most Anticipated Anime of 2023, Celebrating Black Photographers in the Cosplay Community, and Dream Cosplay. Check-in every day for stunning images of craftsmanship, fan stories, and great anime recommendations.

If you have a Crunchyroll account, log in, and leave a positive comment (and follow some of the artists). The nasty part of the internet is acting a fool.

February 4: YouTube mess and EGOT glory

Youtube took down Berlin Edmond, a.k.a. Berleezy’s main account. Fans speculate that it’s because of a video of him playing Poop Killer 4. A game that you can find plenty of others playing. I’m not super familiar with Berleezy’s content, but I am aware of him and can’t help but think about the racism in YouTube’s content moderation. Both F.D. Signifier and, more famously, CoryxKenshin in August 2022 have touched on this. All three make different content and are for different audiences, but garner millions of views a month. He’s been relatively quiet, but his fans have not been. I hope he gets his channel back soon.

A win is a win: The Grammy’s had some predictable anti-Black upsets. However, one great thing that happened is that Viola Davis just earned an EGOT! That means she nabbed a(n) Emmy (TV), Grammy (audio), Oscar (film), and Tony (stage). After earning the best audiobook narration and storytelling in her memoir Finding Me. Now, there are four (seven if you count any honorary/special awards) Black EGOT honorees. That’s nearly a quarter of the total EGOT winners ever.

February 5: Anything to say the N-word scenario #563

This is gonna be a general white people one because 1) I can’t find the source, 2) all the dead ends ended at white people (from various countries), and 3) well, they keep asking. There’s a viral Chat GPT going around in which someone asks if someone can say the n-word to disarm a bomb. Yes, emerging tech is scary as shit and some white people are still trying to give a scenario in which it would be okay to say a slur. Luckily, the bot said a firm “no.” I’m so proud of it. (For the first time.)


Now, I could’ve framed this as “a win is a win” because AI and technology trends towards racism both on purpose and through creator bias. However, I didn’t because I wanted to focus on the reason this was asked. That being, people just really want to find the ultimate scenario to say the n-word publically with no repercussions.

A win is a win: The Black Archivist, Christiana McClain, shares three major projects.

@theblackarchivist Hi, my name is Christiana McClain aka theblackarchivist and if you’re here it means you either love black women, black literature, or visiting museums. I’m on a journey to create a space that combines museum exhibits and literary readings. My three exhibitions will debut in May and I’m using tik tok to document the process. The first exhibition will be on writer and educator Nikky Finney. The second exhibition will be on Lucille Clifton, renowned poet, activist, and overall badass. The last will be about the 1856 project which is curating an exhibition on the relationship of my collegiate institution and their ties to slavery. Stick around to learn more about building a exhibitions on your own. #blackmemoryworker #blackdigitalhumanities #curatingmuseumexhibits #theblackarchivist #blackwomenwrite #blackhistoryis ♬ Golden Hour: Piano Version – Andy Morris

Basically, her mission is to combine the archiving and museum processes with the highlighting of Black literary work. These include a digital exhibition on the poet Nikky Finney and a physical exhibition in Baltimore on poet Lucille Clifton. Then, McClain will share The 1856 Project. This centers on the construction of prestigious institutions like universities using enslaved labor. I really recommend following her work online, especially on TikTok, for fellow museum and book nerds like myself.

What are some other “a win is a win”s have you seen out there this month so far?

(featured image: Netflix)

Originally published February 3, 2023.

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.