Some stuff is predictable: Trump tweeting, a Kardashian thirsting, and Black folks debating about Black History Month. I know that in February, some of us will embrace Black History Month like a long-lost cousin and post Black History facts daily; whereas, some of us will rebuff the entire holiday like an ex-lover who owes them money. I know that I will hear, “It’s our month with the same frequency as I hear “I’m Black every day.” Personally, I’m as wishy-washy as a politician on this subject.
On one hand, I recognize how many people fought for a time where Black Americans and our contributions to this country were finally recognized, particularly in the U.S. school curriculum, from which we have been essentially excluded (hello, can someone please tell the writers of these history books that there is more to Black history than us being enslaved and Martin Luther King?). But, due to Black History Month, no year has passed where I don’t learn about another great Black innovator. I love to go to Black History Month programs and hear Black children dancing, reciting poems and speeches; Black senior citizens telling stories and being honored; most importantly, I love seeing he Black community coming together.
If we didn’t have our special month, would our history be celebrated? Would non-Black teachers even think about Black authors, scientists, inventors or doctors and include them in their curriculum if Black History Month didn’t push them to do so? I am often struck by how uninformed people are about Black people and culture. Perhaps Black History Month isn’t so much for us but for others? Yes, you are Black every day; but how many people around you truly understand what that means?
On the other hand, I’m rather indignant about Black History Month: why should we be relegated to one month? It suggests that our contributions to this country are similarly limited. 28 days can’t possibly be enough time to speak about our greatness; particularly considering every other day is spent talking about White America.
Moreover, Black history is American history. Giving our history a separate month suggests that Black Americans aren’t American. It suggests that American History is White history, but a few days should be set aside for the Black folks (White folks are the star and we are the shout out). Our history was part of everyday life – so it should be celebrated like all history. When the American story is told, the Black American story should be woven throughout.
So, since I am somewhat conflicted with my position on this topic, I’ve decided that I am going to view Black History month the same way I view my birthday (and, yes, I celebrate my birthday for a full month). I celebrate life every day — or at least I try to; but my birthday reminds me and others to celebrate me. I am so Black and so proud 365 days per year, but I take Black History Month as a reminder of from where my people come; a reminder of what we have overcome; and to renew my belief in where we can go.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more