Recognizing 2023 Black History Month

Robert L. Santos, Director

The news surrounding the tragic death of Tyre Nichols on the heels of mass murders in California cast a veil of solemnity on the advent of Black History Month. These events touch everyone in our nation and illustrate that our work to advance human dignity and realize the equality for which we all strive is still a glimmer on the horizon. But it is and always has been achievable.

I’ve always professed that I am a work in progress. So are you. And so is our country. In recognition of Black History Month, let’s commit to doing our part to help our nation come together as the great nation we aspire to be. That includes actions we can take in our workplaces, as well as in our everyday lives. I will never tire of saying that when we help others, when we offer them an opportunity to have their voices heard, then we very much help ourselves. We build community. And that makes us stronger and better, whether it is at work, in our neighborhoods, or as citizens of our aspiring nation. Helping others is a tangible way for us to come together and to build a more perfect nation, community, and workplace. 

Black History Month remains a powerful symbolic celebration and a time for acknowledgement, reflection, and inspiration. The national 2023 Black History Month theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how African Americans have addressed historic and ongoing disadvantage and oppression, as evidenced by recent events. But disadvantage and oppression transcend overt instances of violence. They interpenetrate our everyday practices, our beliefs, social relations, and incidents that reveal hierarchies and social structures that preserve inequities. Please understand that we can help mitigate that through our own intentional, positive actions.

Despite an inequitable social system, African Americans have found viable ways to survive, advance, and thrive. Black Americans have nurtured and protected their physical and intellectual autonomy through innovation, lobbying, litigation, and legislation—and, yes, by helping each other as a community. These efforts have fueled perseverance and hope. Black resistance strategies have served as a model for every other social movement in our country. We all have learned from their leadership in this area. And our nation has benefitted from those efforts by progressing towards a more equitable society, even though we still have a way to go.

Collectively celebrating Black History Month is one way the Census Bureau achieves our mission and vision. Consider the mission of our Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion (EEODI): “To engage and support the Census Bureau workforce through proactive education, upholding statutory requirements to prevent unlawful discrimination, and fostering a sense of belonging. Through our vision, we strive to be an inclusive and equitable work environment, empowering employees to be their best selves and make innovative contributions to the agency. We will serve as catalysts for change and build a model EEO program where all employees count.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I encourage all of you to become involved and do all that you can to foster an environment where we all are recognized for our abilities and valued for our contributions.

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