Don Roach: Black History Month Needs to Go
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
This month we celebrate the exploits of many African-Americans from American history who contributed in making society what it is today. People like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, Atticus Finch, Rosa Parks, etc. made significant contributions to American history. But I’m with Morgan that a month, any month, where we celebrate a group of people isn’t the best idea.
I buy the argument that historical contributions made by black people have a history of marginalization. Yet, that is not really the case in 2014. This doesn’t mean prejudice is dead, but it does mean that racism has lost a considerable amount of power it had in the past. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s use of the word “nig—r” by a white person would not be uncommon or universally frowned upon by society. Today, just ask Riley Cooper of Philadelphia Eagles if it’s ok to use the word without fear of backlash.
Furthermore, Black people are trying to beat back the cries of “reverse racism” rather than having to revert their eyes away from white people if both are walking down the same street. Simply put, we live in a world where racism’s power to oppress has been significantly reduced and that’s a very good thing.
Instead of electing a month to call out black history, we should be ensuring that the contributions by black people are included in everyday reading. The point here is that racism’s purpose is to create a “me” and a “you”. From the oppressor’s standpoint, “me” is good, powerful, intelligent, and better than “you”. From the perspective of the oppressed “you” is inferior, dumb, powerless, and not as good as “me”. During the Jim Crow era and earlier, Black History Month (originally Negro History Week) helped demonstrate that all the “you”s in the country had contributed to an American society full of “me”s. The prevailing thought during those days was that black people were an inferior race and their historical contributions were often ignored.
Thing is we no longer live in the Jim Crow era and it’s high time we wake up to that reality.
Further, how can “you” and “me” ever become “we”, if we’re always focused on what makes us different and not what draws us together? If we always focus on what went wrong and not what we’re doing right how is their progress? I’m not Russian. I’m not Italian. You might not be black. But we’re Americans and that should create a common bond. Why can’t we focus on what binds us together and celebrate our shared history - all of it?
It’s time we let go of Black History Month and begin to embrace the notion that America is becoming more “we” and no longer a “you” and “me”.
Does it make you uncomfortable to talk about getting rid of Black History Month?
If you’re a black person and I’m making you uncomfortable, good because it’s on purpose. If you’re a well-intentioned non-Black person and I’m making you uncomfortable, good that’s on purpose too. I dare you to ask yourself why we need a Black History Month? Are we saying that eleven out of twelve months we don’t want our kids to learn about what Black people did in history? Are we saying that we feel guilty for ignoring said people’s contributions and need to designate a month to make ourselves feel better? Are we saying that we continue to ignore the historical exploits of black people?
I haven’t found a really good reason in the 21st century to continue the practice of a Black History month. We and our children should be learning about American history - a history filled with many black, white, and other skin toned people who played an active role in fighting for the freedoms we enjoy today.
So let’s end Black History Month and start celebrating history. Is that too radical?
Related Slideshow: Which New England States Make the Most on Lottery Revenue?
- Don Roach: 50 Years Later, The Negro Is Free
- Don Roach: My Education Crusade Begins Today
- Russ Moore: Langevin’s Mature Approach To Domestic Surveillance
- Don Roach: Are You Ready to Kill Syrians?
- Don Roach: My Education Crusade - An Interview with Deborah Gist
- Don Roach: Who is Clay Pell?
- Don Roach: Can We Believe Raimondo?
- Don Roach: OMG! The Government Shuts Down!
- Don Roach: RI GOP’s Passionate Pursuit of Mediocrity
- Don Roach: Fung Gains Cranston GOP Endorsement as Block Falters
- Don Roach: Megyn Kelly Needs a Serious Reality Check
- Don Roach: When Is Enough Enough, Rhode Island?
- Don Roach: Does Anyone Care About Cranston School Secretaries?
- Don Roach: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble
- Don Roach: Welcome to the Era of Social Media Wars
- Don Roach: A Conversation with Representative Brian Newberry
- Don Roach: The Power Of Poverty
- Don Roach: Obama Goes on the Offensive
- Don Roach: Head-Scratchers From The Past Week
- Don Roach: RI GOP Gun Raffle Shows Moxie
- Don Roach: 5 Big Stories Facing RI in 2014
- Don Roach: Good Intentions Often Lead to Hell
- Don Roach: Obama- A Case Study In Deceit