Black Excellence is Everywhere You Look

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Black woman wearing a red, yellow & black headscarf and a rust colored blouse smiling. Text reads "How [stories] are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many are told are really dependent on power."

Black history is American history. SURJ Families created a simple and fun exercise you can use in your community to remind yourselves that "Black Excellence is Everywhere We Look" and to begin to challenge our biases. White families are damaged when we are not taught Black histories, or just taught one or two stories. Our liberation is connected. 

Download the "Black Excellence is Everywhere We Look" facilitator's guide here.

 Image description: A Black woman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is wearing a red, black and yellow hair wrap and a rust colored blouse. She has a subtle smile, and text reads "How [stories] are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told are really dependent on power." 

Women wouldn't have had the right to vote without Sojourner Truth's powerful voice, LGBTQ rights would not be what they are today without Marsha P. Johnson and other trans women of color leading at Stonewall. As progress is made, White versions of history often erase the contribution of these leaders with intersectional* marginalized identities, which means those important contributions and leaders are made invisible. We lose out on important information about what it takes to become liberated.

This white washing also creates the biases that we all have, from growing up in a society that taught us a limited, white-centric view of history & stories. We didn’t ask for these biases, but now that we know we have them, and it is our responsibility to challenge, limit, and counter bias. As families we have an especially important role in working to prevent bias from being passed on to the next generation.

White people have a responsibility to add our voices to the people of color working for "ethnic studies" to be included in classrooms, we have an opportunity to add our voices to support the people of color led work to lift up our full histories. For more ideas of how to support this work, look at the Black History Month Toolkit. 

The facilitators guide can be used at a community or school meeting, to surround participants with lots of examples of Black excellence. The guide includes:

  • instructions for facilitators (p1)
  • instructions to print out for each family (p2)
  • an agenda for facilitators (p3)
  • an empty template you can share with families before the event, and use to make your own posters (p4)
  • a sample poster (p4)
  • a starter list of Black excellence, with some ideas of different leaders from different communities to lift up (p5)

You can use these tools, modify them for your community, make copies and posters of your own. 

Download the "Black Excellence is Everywhere We Look" facilitator's guide here.

Download a Word version for screen readers and which you can modify here. 

Get to work lifting up the Black Excellence that is everywhere we look!

*Intersectional is a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw which means that we all have multiple identities, that they are linked, and that the privilege and/or marginalization which comes with these overlapping identities shapes our experience in the world.

For more racial justice resources and to join the conversation with other families join SURJ Families online: