By Destiny Mitchell, Executive Editor
Parents often say they don’t have a favorite child, even though everyone around them can clearly see through their thinly veiled lies. But for mother America, it is no secret which of her children she prefers. She only boasts one child, only encourages one child, only loves one child, and does her best to bury the rest. Those who miss it do so willingly – her fondness is proclaimed in her stories.
“You have to know where you came from in order to see what you’re going.” It’s a phrase that couldn’t ring more true than now, in the month of February.
Originally Negro History Week, Black History Month grew from the brainchild of the son of former slaves, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and other prominent black figures of the time. Woodson realized that black people were either largely misrepresented or missing altogether from the history books, according to history.com
Since 1976, every U.S. President has declared February to be the host month of black heritage, chosen mostly in order to coincide with the birthdays of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.
Black History month is a time to celebrate the tales that we have in the past skewed or ignored completely. It is a time of reflection – to look back on the darkness of the past and realize that its shadows still linger in the present.
But to many, Black History Month is a joke. Some may even go as far to say that is racist. Racist because Black History Month acknowledges the otherwise to-be-forgotten contributions made by blacks, while white heritage receives no such recognition. Those people, of course, are forgetting that people of color are required to study and learn a whitewashed history. A history that begins with slavery and ends with the civil rights movement. Black people are a commercial break in the 24-hours a day, 7-days a week syndication that is white history. The part of the program people either sit through grudgingly or tune out altogether.
If Black History month is a joke, it’s a joke because society has not utilized it as a tool of empowerment for black people, nor a tool of education for non-black people. It might more accurately be called “Martin Luther King Jr. History Month,” because that’s nearly all we’re comfortable talking about.
The holiday was meant to commemorate black heritage, but in many ways it has only condensed it. It has made it acceptable to starve blacks of their history for eleven months out of the year, then throw it a Rosa Parks biscuit for a couple of weeks to keep it just a hair short of death.
For many, Black History Month is the only time they see people like them be honored for their strength, courage, success and intelligence. Yet there are still people who want to do away with it.
Morgan Freeman is noted for his unpopular opinions concerning race and racism.“I don’t want a Black History Month,” he told Mike Wallace of 60 minutes in 2005. “ Black history is American history.”
When Wallace countered by asking how people are supposed to go about ending racism, Freeman responded, “stop talking about it.”
Freeman may have played the role of God in the 2003 film, Bruce Almighty but he is certainly void of divine discernment.
Those who believe that Black History should no longer be celebrated because it should be indoctrinated into American history are approaching the subject from an idealistic point of view instead of a practical point of view.
Yes, races are a man made construct – a way of grouping people together based on shared phenotypes. But just like being tall or having freckles or a thumb that bends outward ever so slightly, these differences make us beautiful.
The holiday was meant to commemorate black heritage, but in many ways it has only condensed it.
It would be ideal if society operated under that belief. But it doesn’t. We’re too lazy to go back and edit out the inaccuracies of our history books. We’re comfortable with whites being at the forefront of society, because that’s the way it’s always been.
Every time someone eats peanut butter, slam the brakes at a stoplight, or listens to classical music they are experiencing black history. And many don’t even know it.
Taking the month of February from the black community is like stealing a poor man’s last dime. Black History Month is not much, but it is something.
If we allow it, it could be a start. Instead of being complacent in our talks about Malcom X, we could be talking about white supremacy and the disadvantage it imposes on people of color. Instead of talking about slavery in the past tense, we could talk about all the ways the groomed slave mentality exists in black society today, and how non-blacks benefit from it.
For blacks, their history is present in everything from the skin, to the hair, to the mouth, to the nose, to the eyes.
Ignoring black heritage is turning off the television during the commercial break. It is to hypocritically ignore the culture, art, music and medical advancements we all love so much.
Don’t indulge in the program then ignore the sponsors that helped make it possible.