The Color Theory: Embrace Your Culture for Black History

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

As we all know, February is Black History Month. With racial injustice being brought to national attention within the past year, this time around feels a lot more important compared to recent years.

Said best by N’dea Yancey-Bragg of USA Today, “Black History Month recognizes the contributions African-Americans have made to this country throughout time. Specifically this year, on a national scale, we reflect on the continued struggle of racial injustice.”

For those interested, how did we get here?

Early Beginnings

The story of Black History Month dates back to 1915, almost fifty years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The founding fathers of this celebration, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, were dedicated to promote accomplishments made by African-Americans. They wanted these newly profound leaders to embrace their culture, while being put on a higher pedestal for the whole world to see. 

Photo: Matheus Viana – Pexels

Before 1976, Black History Month was “Black History Week” – formerly known as National Negro History Week, residing between Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays (who were important advocates of black lives).

Rising philosophers and leaders in the civil rights movement (such as Malcolm X, John Lewis, James Meredith, and Martin Luther King Jr.) brought awareness of the Black identity. Thus, evolving “Negro History Week” into the modern Black History Month.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Today’s Impact

As said in my previous post, we started this whole pandemic with lots of uncertainty. But there seems to be a forecast of hope on the horizon. With heartbreaking events, such as the death of George Floyd and many other countless names, became eye-opening for our nation. This year’s celebration, the on-going focus is heavily reflective of last summer’s Black Lives Matter Movement.

Although some may argue, just this year alone, this particular “reflection” is overly emphasized. Somebody once told me recently, “Well, why are people finally recognizing our struggles now? Why are people finally bringing up this issue after so many decades of pain?”

I hear you, my friend. But recognizing this issue now is better than never. We were bound to face the issues of police brutality, racism in the workplace, ignorance, and every injustice the black community has dealt with throughout the history of this country.

Nichelle Smith of USA Today agrees, “The short answer: Forward. Through still-difficult times to the other, better side. There’s no going back to a “normal” that never worked well for Black people anyway.” 

Everyone has been through a lot this past year. What’s keeping us alive is for us to keep progressing and pushing forward as individuals.

Current Sting President and Editor-at-Large, Leonard Robinson, also agrees to my philosophical advice as said in his last post: “The big thing that happened? Humanity got better at simply…being alive”. To put it in perspective, every day (hopefully), we are becoming more tolerant to our neighbors.

Photo: Scott Olson – Getty Images (via NPR)

The Colors: Symbolize Through Wear

With this celebration going on now, and still in a worldwide pandemic, the most common way to express your heritage and “blackness” is to dress up for the culture.

Dressing in a way can be considered as a reflection of one’s cultural values and morals. Think of it symbolically: there’s a story or meaning behind certain colors and patterns.

The colors red, black, and green have always been associated with African-descent and used as the colorway for Black History Month – inspired from the iconic, Pan-American Flag (or known as the Black Liberation Flag). Said by NPR editor, Leah Donnella: “Red stood for blood — both the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation, and the shared blood of the African people. Black represented, well, black people. And green was a symbol of growth and the natural fertility of Africa.”

I’m not saying you should wear red, black, and/or green to support this national celebration – but only my suggestion. You could go even further into embracing your culture by wearing traditional wear, such as head wraps and fine prints.


Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, an influential fashion column.

U.S. Department of Justice probes police department

But what will happen afterwards?

By Benjamin Land

Police brutality cases keep trending on social media and on news channels throughout America. While the police-related shootings of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers Jr. in Missouri have justly garnered most of the public scrutiny on police brutality, Baltimore was recently added to the cities affected last month.

The Anniversary of Tyrone West’s Death Protest. Photo credit: http://www.themsuspokesman.com
The Anniversary of Tyrone West’s Death Protest.
Photo credit: http://www.themsuspokesman.com

Last month, the incident involving Baltimore resident Kolin Truss and police officer Vincent Cosum made local headlines as the latest addition to police brutality altercations from the Baltimore City Police Department. This particular incident found itself spotlighted in local publications across the city, which in turn reminded readers of similar cases in the past. These incidents were frequent enough that it provoked the Department of Justice to initiate a probe into the BCPD for police brutality as well as officer misconduct.

The DOJ’s probe’s hasn’t been released to the public, yet, but the sheer fact that there is a probe to begin with has galvanized local civil rights leaders into calling for a more invasive one. According to the Baltimore Sun, the local branch of the NAACP is spearheading the move for the second probe, citing reasons such as distrust of the current mayoral administration as to why a federal investigation should be carried out. The current probe is a “collaborative review” that was agreed upon by both the mayor’s office and the DOJ.

At the moment, opinions on the outcome of the probe and what it means are mixed. But all concerned parties seem to agree on the need for an internal reform of the current police department. Cases like the above, and several settlements that are currently being paid from the city to residents, are indicative of the threat that violent cops who remain in the department pose.

Earlier this month, the city released a report that discussed on- going changes within the BCPD. The report stressed two suggestions: increased staff to man the Internal Affairs Division and the Force Investigative Team, as well more equipment that will assist in the investigation of police misconduct. The second suggestion is equipping officers with body cameras for a more “in-depth” view of any altercations with residents.

The latter suggestion is widely popular with the City Council and criminal defense lawyers, as well as being supported by activists and citizens via the social media coverage of the Missouri protests. If implemented completely, the suggestions could be the first step in repairing the relationship Baltimore City residents have with the BCPD in the immediate future.