Greetings Dear Community,
It’s February! Happy Black History Month!
I think it’s so appropriate that this is also the month of love and I’m hoping that we will all send intentional and actionable love to black community in celebration of Black History Month. I invite each of you to outline three to five things that you can do to support abundance, advancement, and sanctuary for black individuals and communities this February.
I thought I’d share my plan this year with you in hopes that it might spark ideas for how you can engage, too:
Talk to children. I am reading books from this series to my four year old son. He is enjoying hearing about so many different kinds of leaders in our community and asking keen questions about the challenges they faced due to prejudice and institutional racism.
Celebrate cultural resiliency. At least one night each week in February, I am cooking with recipes from black American or West African cultures. Whether it’s a dish that I cook often or one that is brand new to me, I feel connected to these nourishing practices through my ancestry. If you don’t like to cook or perhaps this isn’t your heritage, try supporting black-owned restaurants in your area by ordering delivery/take-out. Tip generously.
Donate. Each week this month I am donating to an organization focusing on black empowerment and advancement. There are many lists out there and none are exhaustive, but here’s a start if you’d like to explore. Remember, every little bit helps.
Hype black writers and thinkers. There are so many! Especially in times when many are looking for direction, we have a tendency to follow fads. One fad is to buy the well-marketed books about race and racism by white people, rather than books by black writers which white authors use as research to write their books in the first place! Buy black books. Buy from black publishers. Tell everyone in your social network about what you’re reading and why you’re supporting black thought leadership. I’ve got a few books going right now including: August Wilson’s The Ground on Which I Stand (again!), We Will Not Cancel Us by adrienne maree brown, and I’ve just started Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy. Have fun exploring the treasures inside the ever evolving black archive.
Support Sanctuary and Self-Care. Because of the pandemic, I don’t feel comfortable engaging in many of the practices I regularly do to support my wellbeing. But, there are virtual experiences that we can explore. Check out Black Zen, Therapy for Black Girls and Rest for Resistance. If you are a white ally who wants to support sanctuary for black individuals and communities, see if any of these organizations take donations to waive fees for prospective clients. Or, share these resources in your social and professional circles to start a conversation about why black sanctuary spaces are so vital right now.
As I celebrate Black History Month, I sit with the wisdom of the Sankofa, a West African Adinkra symbol that reminds us “a step forward begins with a glance back.” Regardless of our race or ethnicity, the work we do today to engender more equity, justice and compassion in our communities begins with understanding where we’ve been, who we come from, and how their lives and legacies have shaped us.
Time is a social construct—we make it very real, of course—but in our bones, in our bodies, through the very blood in our veins, our ancestors live on. Much of what is passed down brings us cultural pride and builds our resiliency. And, so many of us are also connected to trauma; our ancestors either experienced it, caused it, or both. These legacies are alive in us, too, whether we face them or not. The New York Times just ran a very powerful article about this very exploration; it’s definitely worth the read. The more conscious and informed we are, the more intentional we can be about the choices we make today.
So, this month go back through your ancestry and see what’s there. Find things to celebrate. Find things to reckon with. None of us arrive here alone and we all have opportunities to brighten the path ahead for those to come.
With extra love this month!
"Be accountable and go heal, simultaneously, continuously. It’s never too late."
-adrienne maree brown
The 44th stamp in the USPS Black Heritage® series honors Penumbra Company Member and playwright August Wilson (1945-2005), who brought fresh perspectives and previously unheard voices to the American stage.
Join Penumbra in congratulating friend Junauda Petrus, recently named a 2021-2022 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. Petrus is author of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them and member of local artistic partnership Free Black Dirt.
Founded by Summer Institute alum Keno Evol, Black Table Arts unveils its new space this February! The Minneapolis-based cooperative includes a bookstore, shared workspace, and performance space.
Today is my Birthday is the first mainstage production produced by Theatre Mu since the pandemic. Written by Susan Soon He Stanton and directed by Lily Tung Crystal, this quirky show illustrates life with a thousand friends on Facebook, but no one to talk to on a Saturday night. Feb. 6 - 21.
We recently hosted our first ever virtual book club event for Baobab Family Members at the Leader level and above. Members were sent a copy of August Wilsons' The Ground on Which I Stand and participated in a discussion led by Artistic Director Sarah Bellamy. Interested in becoming a member? Contact Martine McLellan at for more information.

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