black history month commemorations just concluded and throughout the month of February, the societal contributions of black culture were highlighted with the flair and vibrancy the culture is known for. The film industry, in particular, showcased black excellence and dusty dashikis made their annual appearance in its honor. Black contributions to film, fashion, and culture are often misrepresented and appropriated, but, with continued dialogue and writings, the culture will persevere. Now that the month is over, let’s continue to uplift black culture and its contributions all year long.

The power of black films

Hollywood, a major film and movie influencer globally, continues to perpetuate the myth that black films do not travel or interest many people outside North America. This myth suggests that movies telling black stories or led by black actors will not make as much money or have as far a reach as their caucasian counterparts. Many examples of black films smashing the box office time and time again disprove this notion. Films like "Bad Boys," Oscar favorites "Get Out" and "Moonlight," and the recent phenomenon of "Black Panther" prove that these films can gross millions locally and overseas.

"Black Panther" has taken the world by storm and is a first in many ways.

It is the first Marvel movie to have an all-black leading cast with a predominantly black supporting cast and a black director. The power of the film comes from its message, fashion, and of course, the amazing reviews and fan reactions it got months before its release. Most importantly, the record-breaking box office gross to date of almost $900 million worldwide speaks volumes about the profitability and power of a film with a predominantly black cast and a black director.

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Popularizing the benefits of shea butter and coconut oil

These two products have been with us for centuries but their use and benefits became popular with black culture. Native to West Africa, shea butter is a blessing to people of color who have been using it for cosmetic, nutritional, and medicinal purposes for centuries. Coconut oil could be considered a beauty cure-all, with a number of health benefits as well.

Both are staples in black homes that are now being celebrated for their health and wellness superpowers by everyone.

Shea butter can be used for varying purposes including protection against harmful sun exposure, as an organic lip balm, to relieve joint/muscle soreness when used as a massage oil, and as part of the hair regiment. From healing scars to moisturizing dry knees, coconut oil is a master. The sweet smelling oil is rich in fatty acids, which makes it an effective moisturizer because it absorbs into the skin quickly. The relationship between black people and these two products is widely known and their popularity makes moisturizing a luxurious everyday activity accessible to everyone.

Afrocentric fashion and hairstyles

Black hair and hairstyles have been an important part of black history. As simple as this might seem, attributing hairstyles to its origins shows respect to a culture that honors hair as their crowns. From dreadlocks to afros to cornrows or bantu knots that have become popular in mainstream culture today, black hair care is now a major industry, and, among black women, there has been a revival in natural hairstyles. This revival is a tribute to black pride and should be celebrated from January to December.

Gone are the days when Dashikis and African print were only reserved for older folks. Nowadays, Afrocentric clothing is all the rage, especially with the popularity of the "Black Panther" movie.

Wearers of African garb distinguish themselves and celebrate their Afrocentrism through their clothes. It represents a primordial connection to the Motherland and a crucial external expression that elevates black culture.

What’s next?

Black culture has contributed too much to the world to be acknowledged and/or celebrated for only one month out of a year. The exploration of the black experience should have the public’s attention for reasons other than gang violence or police brutality.

This year’s theme celebrates our contribution to the military and how we stepped up in times of conflict and war. In the midst of that, we are also fighting our own battles of structural racism and appropriation. Nevertheless, we continue to persevere and exude black pride with the hope that it becomes more than a one month wonder.