Friday, February 20, 2015

Black History Month Events Don't Mean Tacky Events...

I love Black History Month!  Every year, I discover something I didn't know I need to know.  Also, in my line of business, there tends to be tons of programming and events.   I love that too.  However, what I don't love is how many people plan events related to Black History.  Too often, event organizers, either throw a ton of mismatched African fabric on tables or they pull out a tried and true black table cloth.   All of this is terribly problematic because it doesn't seem to embody one of the major principles of Kwanzaa...Kuumba - Creativity!  I don't understand why people with so much "swag" would just handle Black History Month without the nuance or class it could have...and ultimately deserves.

The solution isn't to throw all the African fabric, mudcloth, kente cloth, and cowerie shells on the table.  The solution isn't to dust off the one black table cloth.  The solution is to consider who fabric shells or heritage can be a metaphor for your events.  

For me, this starts with a color scheme.  I don't abandon my good tastes because of Black History Month...I infuse them into Black History month.  So, I will often pair patterns that are similar in nature to provide for me a genuine color scheme.   One time I used peach, purple and tan to for a reception after a talk.  I based the color scheme on one of the multi colored fabrics I had at my disposal.  Rather than pulling out all of its' 'cousins,"  I chose to use simple colors that played on the rich fabric.  As you can see here, even the flowers spoke to fabric.

Another time I used Red, Black and Green.  Rather than being literal in translation.  I sometimes approach an idea by deconstructing it.
In the case of the red, black and green, I asked could I use the colors in interesting ways that would both provide a black aesthetic, but also show nuance?  I think the metaphorical X in red fabic (alluding to Malcolm X), the use of bright lime florals, and black water in vases at several sizes create the necessary elements for alluding to the Black National Flag without saying it.

In any case, when using African fabric or a common Black history month theme, seek to make the element live in a way that is artistic and unexpected.  This way, you'll never be short on ideas when it comes to literally using Black Heritage as a way to see the world...and plan events.

Besides, people of African descent have made much impact on the world culture!  Let's not reduce our people's contributions to the "one black tablecloth!"

Wrapped with a Beau,

Sean P.

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