I didn’t began to celebrate Black History Month until I entered junior high school. (Attending a private Catholic institution was obviously not within the guidelines of educating its students on such a broad subject.) My church held programs during the month. Big Whoop Dee Do. Recycled information year after year. Never anyone new. Posters were positioned on the first and snatched by the 28th in the public schools I attended. Overall, I just felt like the month in itself was as if we got freed out of timeout for 28 days. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Once McDonald’s started commericializing it, my disgust for this particular month grew annually. Its a disrespectful titled month that I can’t seem to get jiggy with nor find the appreciation that others seem to find. Most say to be thankful we are at the least acknowledged. I say, “hell naw!” Out of all the contributions and acheivements of our people, 28 days is a spit in my damn face.
Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, famous entertainers or athletes don’t even scratch the surface of what our race has done, yet they get shoved down our throats as if they are the only contributors. To be even more specific, we should’ve been taught first off all of the things we are responsible for that exist in this world that another race took credit for.
When I started my matriculation at Tougaloo College, Dr. Woods’ (History Professsor and an major assest to the African American culture) teachings eased my mind as and when I became infuriated with the fact that African American History wasn’t a required, general education course all over in any and all institutions. I was also pissed because 28 days just isn’t enough for our history. Are you kidding me? We debated for months. He kept telling me that I don’t get it, that’s why I was puzzlingly pissed.
By the end of the semester, I sat down with him after finals and he left me with one question, saying, “They control our thinking by controlling the way they educate us; but its up to you to find the answers and ask the right questions. Do you think you can that?” I smirked while closing his messy office saying, “Hell yeah!” That was our last convo to say the least and I haven’t really dove into the subject since then so how bout now? *Drake voice*
WE NEED TO TALK
Let’s do a timeline:
January 1, 1863 – Emancipation Proclamation
January 31, 1865 – 13th Amendment (Two whole years later. Real cute Abe!)
1926 – Negro History Week (The second week in celebration of Abe Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th and Frederick Douglass’ birthday, February 14th) coined by Carter G. Woodson in efforts to coordinate teachings of the history of American blacks once approved by the Department of Education (go figure!).
July 2, 1964 – Civil Rights Act
1976 – Black History Month in the U.S. was granted. It was coined by the Black United Students at Kent State University, which initially transitioned it from Negro History Week into Black History Month. It launched in 1970.
1987 – United Kingdom adopts Black History Month
1995 – Canada adopts Black History Month in honor of Black Canadians
So now its recognized in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and supposedly Germany (I have my doubts). While any improvement is a step to some, others prefer the right improvement over any improvement.
The month is so patronizing to me. The timeline above will make you ask so many questions as far as timing is concerned if you truly dissect it. Anyways. You do the math. Over 400 years of slavery cannot equate to 28 days a year dedicated towards our particular history that didn’t start being publicly recogized until 1976 in the first place. The over generalization of the month is an umbrella cry for attention that we will never get. No other race has this labeled month marked upon them. We have enough marks already.
Have you ever wondered why there are so few $2 bills? My guess is because John Hanson, the first black American President of the Constitutional Congress, is on it and they probably cut the printing of them years ago. I should do some research on that. Anyways. Have you ever wondered why you were only taught about the same particular individuals when it came to Black History? Or why Malcolm X was painted so graphically and Martin was portrayed as the main solutionist? Have you ever even traced your own family roots? Who are you? Where do you come from? Why are you here? What are you doing? See. Half of us don’t even know the answers to those questions.
My problem is, we are and have been conditioned to learn particulars that if needed be, we couldn’t be able to defend our race factually because we only know of the commerialized facts. Our race isnt simple, so why as a people are we so simple towards this?
We need more than 28 days and we don’t need to advertise that we are getting knowledge of our history. To say the least, we are too satisfied, easily satisfied at that. Some Mississippians know only certain facts about the state itself – Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, etc. but how familiar are they with names like Dr. Henry, Fred Shuttleworth, Diane Nash, Ella Baker, I could go on and on.
Knowing the history is so gruesome, no way in Hades would the law mandate teaching the truth of it all because they want to erase our memory oh so badly. There are so many things that distract us from knowing who we really are in society that it is truly a personal responsibility to educate yourself. Always has been. Always will be. When this month was granted by law to our race, it was only necessary to be taught in public institutions, not private, hence why I never was educated on the matter until I enrolled into public education. That in itself is sickening to me.
I do however applaud the progress over no progress at all. Truth is, nothing will be done about this month, some see no issue with it, some find it comical, some find it unnecessary, some love it. To each its own. As for me, its patronizing and disrespectful. We deserve so much beyond reparation. Starting with our history, actually knowing it is the only way true progress can be found but never on divided ground can that happen. But hey, that’s just me.
No Black History Month for me. February isnt the only month we did something. Every week of every month can be dedicated toward educating on a significant African American in history. That’s 52 indiviudals and we still aren’t scratching the surface and you wonder why I find this patronizing? Ha! Now that my friend, is funny!