Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is Black History Month Still Necessary?


I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I wanted to ‘celebrate’ Black History Month on this blog. It’s not that I’m against BHM but, in 2012, I’m not all for it either. I’m not one of those people who thinks we’re on an even playing field….not even a little bit. Yet, at the same time, I’m not so sure we still need one month set aside to recognize (prove?) that we are worth much more to America than American History gives us credit for. When this month of recognition was started, I agree it was necessary at the time. According to Wikipedia, the purpose of BHM, started by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week, was to promote awareness of African American history to the general public and for the history of African Americans to become considered a more significant part of American history as a whole.  According to historian John Hope Franklin, Woodson “continued to express hope that Negro History Week would outlive its usefulness”. While I’m sure other races are not promoting Black pride or teaching their children specifically about the accomplishments of African Americans, I’d like to believe we have progressed to the point that we can (rightfully) toot our own horns and show off our accomplishments enough all year so that one month won’t really make a difference. Instead of setting aside just 28 days to celebrate our beauty, intelligence, accomplishments, investments, originality and innumerable contributions to America and the world, we should talk about, teach about, sing, dance and shout about it all year round.  Find ways to incorporate the facts of African American history into our daily lives, be it in the home, at school, in church, in the workplace, at social events, on television, etc.  Make it so that the accomplishments & achievements made by our people are not viewed as rarities or anomalies.   So when my daughter does something spectacular, her recognition is given right alongside her white counterpart as part of the regularly scheduled program. 

Sure, we can and should have our ‘family-style’ ceremonies, parties and programs (BET Honors, Hip Hop Awards, NAACP Awards, etc.) as they appeal more to a culture and community than a race (in my opinion). We should keep celebrating each other through festivals, movies, plays, books, etc. We should keep fresh in the minds of our young, by teaching of history and our own example, how beautiful it is to be an African American. And yes, we need to teach them the ugly that comes along with it through no fault of their own. Make no mistake, I’m not, in any way, suggesting we have ‘arrived.’ I’m just not sure if continuing to celebrate Black History Month brings people closer together, as the human race or serves as just another barrier that keeps Black people separated from everyone else. 
I don’t know people…………….What do you think?