Beyond Black History Month

February 21, 2024

By Sage Cassell-Rosenberg

Ah, February! A month where the air buzzes with the vibrant energy of Black History Month… and my inbox? Well, it’s bursting at the seams. As a Black Jewish professional, my heart is overjoyed seeing a sea of messages, events, and writing that celebrates and uplifts the legacy and continuous strength and resiliency of the Black community, both Jewish and not. Yet, I can’t help but also ache for more.

Growing up as a Black, queer, and Jewish person, I remember staring at the T.V., desperately yearning for even a single face, a single story that sounded like my own. Unfortunately, this hunger often went unsatiated. However, as I’ve grown more and more into the person I needed when I was younger, I feel blessed to be given opportunities — and now through Keshet —  to share my story and educate folks on my experiences as a Black trans person navigating Jewish spaces and the world at large.

I feel grateful to be able to tell my story because I know how much easier life would have been for younger me had I watched someone else do so. Seeing voices and lived experiences that mirror our own in the media and in our community can be truly life-saving. 

While I still glow with every opportunity to speak, write, or even pose for the occasional photoshoot in honor of BHM, I can’t help but notice the stark contrast in requests for collaborations during other months, which are notably far fewer. And what does it say when historically marginalized individuals are primarily being extended the mic and shown the spotlight during the select sliver of the year when allies are heavily instructed to do so? 

Short answer…Stories of Black struggle, triumphs, and legacy aren’t given the oxygen they deserve.

I’ve watched as countless BHMs have ended, with line-ups for events, conference schedules, and writing opportunities becoming more and more homogeneously white. And I’ve watched as the calls and opportunities for “diverse voices and experiences trickle in slower and slower.  

I’ll restate how truly honored I am by each and every message inviting me to speak and share my lived experiences as a Black person during BHM, but I long for a reality where my Black siblings, both chosen and given, don’t have to bump elbows for the chance to tell our stories throughout the year while deserving a stage far larger than what has been built for us. 

I long for a reality where I’ll continually see Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, publications, and a myriad of spaces alike emphasizing, showcasing, and uplifting Black voices not only during Black History Month but throughout the entire calendar year. 

Ultimately, the continuous representation of marginalized voices matters. Period.