Recent comments from Stacey Dash and an old Morgan Freeman interview condemning the idea of black history month have been all I see on social media this morning and it has me thinking, why is the fight against black history month? Why is a month that celebrates the great achievements and contributions to society by people of color being seen as useless and even inappropriate? It seems as if the argument made against black history month starts with the idea that black history is American history. Now as someone who took 12 years of history in public schools I may have not gotten that memo. It seems as if I was only taught about Maya Angelou and the Harlem Renaissance in February and the Martin Luther King posters always seemed to come down on March 1st.
Maybe if I learned about Kingdoms like the Axum Empire that existed shortly after the Roman one when the “world” fell into a time we were taught to call The Dark Ages because of the cultural and economic deterioration that went on in Europe. In Africa, times were not so dark and empires such as the Axum flourished. But you would never know that. The school system doesn’t care about that.
But people still ask why is there a black history month?
Why is there a black history month? Because without it you wouldn’t know there was this much black history and there is even more than we celebrate during this month. Think to yourself. Where/When did you learn about the black history (excluding slavery) that you do know? I imagine if it was in school, then it was in the month of February. If it was not in school during this month, then you probably learned it elsewhere.
America is seen as this great melting pot where people from civilizations all over the world come together and bring the best of what we have to make this great society. It seems as if this melting pot, speaking from the perspective of the school system, does not have its fair share of ingredients from all members. Next time someone tells you that black history is American history, tell him or her that that is indeed true. But what we were taught in school is European history and then American history from a European perspective.
If we did not have a month to highlight the greatness of the black contribution to culture, then the fear is it would be erased and/or forgotten just as culture/names/religion were stripped during slavery. To think that today, without black history month, that the black contribution to culture would be appreciated, as it should is a very naïve mindset to have.
The fight and the comments condemning the idea of black history month should instead be redirected and aimed at the school system that made black history month necessary. I believe whole-heatedly that black history is American history. However, the way it is taught to us must change before we decide the month is no longer necessary.