I.E. Black History Month Back to Back Events
By Dianne Anderson
A swirl of Black History Month events has the community mapping out back-to-back itineraries, whether cerebral considerations, or entertainment, rest and relaxation.
Last week, Crafton Hills campus kicked off the month with stories and experiences around Black resistance, which for Dr. Willie Blackmon, usually means resilience, grit and endurance.
But Blackmon shines the spotlight on the other side of resistance, the impact on mental health from the long-term subsistence in fight mode. He wearies of the burden of maintaining the stance of the strong Black man, or strong Black woman.
In some ways, he has a visceral reaction to the idea of Black resistance.
“I wanted to address that it’s okay not to be okay. Looking at Black resistance is Black joy, education, liberation and being okay with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. There are some days that we don’t have to fight,” said Dr. Blackmon, Director of Outreach & Educational Partnerships at Crafton Hills College.
Instead, he wants to see medical providers address the gaps that are making the community sick, the socioeconomic disparities and biases, conscious or unconscious.
When it comes to mental health, there is a stigma with asking for therapy, but he feels the bigger problem is that most African Americans, himself included, have firsthand experience with being shrugged off and disregarded by medical professionals when they seek help.
“We got to hear from our Black professional staff here, as well as former students and alumni experience. We need to talk about accessibility and conversations we’re having around Black bodies and mental health,” he said.
On February 8, he said that the “Untold Stories” of Black History in Redlands is another great local event about the challenges around current notions of things learned around Black history, but also those things deliberately withheld from the education system.
That event seeks to dig deeper into historical events that are not taught in schools.
“What is normally focused on is slavery and there is so much more to our rich experience and the work we put in on the foundation of America that is not being told,” he said.
This month, Shalita Tillman, president of the San Bernardino Community College District Black Faculty and Staff, said she hopes students and staff will walk away inspired by this year’s lineup of events.
Tillman said the collaboration with staff and employees within their district to host the Black History Month events across campuses is something new, and that these topics are never been more urgent than it is today. She is also encouraging new partnerships with Latinx, Native American month, to help draw people together to learn that they have more similarities than differences.
“For us to move forward as a cohesive group, we have to be able to learn about one another and have an understanding. If we continue to work in a silo of this specific population, we’ll never connect the dots and move forward,” she said.
For the most part, she is also concerned that the month has been heavily focused on slavery in schools, which she feels is a gross injustice. She wants greater attention to the nation’s amazing Black scientists, engineers, inventors and brilliant minds that are not making it to the textbooks.
“Let’s talk about how Black African American culture got [beyond] slavery, and with contributions. I know that we are still in a struggle with the America we live in. However, I still see us pushing forward and contributing even more so in our society as it changes,” she said.
While taxes are not related to Black History Month, tax time is for everyone. She said the community can take advantage of free tax services at San Bernardino Valley College. Walk-ins are allowed, and the community is welcome to schedule an appointment.
On Friday, February 10, the Inland Empire Black Worker Center is also inviting the community out for Paint Night starting at 6:00 p.m., located at 468 W 5th Street in San Bernardino.
That event is ongoing every second Friday of the month to engage the community, which Nosakhere Thomas sees as one way to troubleshoot before trouble comes.
“The goal is to build trust. It’s better to develop trust in peacetime than war, and exposure in letting folks know that we’re there is another goal,” said Dr. Thomas, executive director of Inland Empire Black Worker Center.
For Black History Month, the community is invited to come out, create art, snack on cheese, crackers, grapes and non-alcoholic drinks. The suggested donation is $15 per person, which helps support the local community as the program helps the housing insecure in the neighborhood. Quarterly, they give out food, clothing, blankets and toiletries.
He said they are always on the lookout, recruiting new members and volunteers.
“There are a whole lot of crises. We want to make connections with them, learn their names, know who they are, become members and volunteers before we have to march, or get in a door, or knock down a door,” he said.
For upcoming events at San Bernardino Valley College, see
For more information on Inland Empire Black Worker Center, see