I want to honor our legacy, to cultivate long, lovingly detailed posts on the black cartoonists and writers of the past who paved the way for all, but I simply cannot focus. I’m obsessed with the present. I’m obsessed with our future.
And so Ormes and Harrington give way to Ayo and Bernardin. What are we creating this very moment? What are we adding to the pot? After all, a thriving culture is like gumbo, simmering for eons, with each new generation adding fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor of what came before.
Black History Month? Well, that’s generally a whole lot of pot stirring. It’s an examination of what we have inherited and a chance to sample the fruits of our ancestors’ labor. And, oh my, is that important. But it’s damn sure not the only reason why we are in the kitchen. We aren’t children. We don’t get to snatch what we want from the pot, fill our bellies, and then bolt from the room. We’re here to cook, baby—to make something. And making something is not simply warming up leftovers, no matter how tasty they may be.
And I feel very much as if we are in a “microwave moment” in regards to our music, our literature, and our art. I don’t want to spend this month making a quick mental note of the doors opened by Matt Baker while using the opportunity he provided to simply regurgitate the work of Stan and Jack. That’s not why we were given seats at certain tables. Black History Month is wonderful. But the best thing about our history is that it’s not going anywhere. It’ll be there for us whenever we need it. But the present? That can slip through our hands like water if we don’t pay attention—water that can thin the “gumbo” and dilute its flavor.
So, for the next twenty-eight days, I propose we kick off a celebration of Black Present Month by gifting ourselves with wonderful creations by inspired artists and writers currently putting pen to paper and digit to keyboard. What’s out there now that we can pluck from the shelves or add to our feeds? And for those of us who feel the drive to create as well as consume? Well, a Black Future Month is in order. The pot’s waiting.