Black History Month
March 8, 2017
Filed under Editorial
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Every February since 1976, Black History Month has been nationally celebrated. But in what some people now consider a “post-racial” world, many question why we still need Black History Month.
The election of Barack Obama nine years ago created a false sense of unity and acceptance that the recent election of Donald Trump and his campaign have blatantly shattered.
But when it isn’t our president inspiring fights at rallies, it’s the police killing unarmed black men and women. And when it isn’t the police, it’s celebrities making ignorant comments. And when it isn’t celebrities, it’s the common man driving down the street with a Confederate flag on his truck. All of these people remind us why we still need Black History Month.
The answer is simple: black lives matter. Representation matters. Education matters. Celebration matters. Bringing awareness to the black youth and those all around us matters. Yes, the more than 300 years of slavery still matter.
Some people argue that Black History Month perpetuates racial division. Others believe black history is American history, and there is no need for separation.
In a perfect world, it would be great if both histories were intertwined as one; however, black history is often treated separate. Black people are often seen as others, their accomplishments deemed less significant, their contribution to this country less important.
For too many years to count, African Americans have been overlooked and underappreciated. The only black leaders in our textbooks are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In schools, black children learn mainly about their record of enslavement, rather than their true roots and their ancestors’ accomplishments.
Black History Month is an opportunity to learn true black history. And knowing one’s history is a key component in shaping one’s future. For African Americans, it instills a sense of healthy pride and self-concept and for their white counterparts, vital insight and understanding.
It is an opportunity to embrace the people, culture and achievements often forgotten about or dimmed by the shine given to Americans of European descent.
The short, 28 days of Black History Month are a small consolation for centuries of exclusion, and they are necessary in redefining the ingrained negativity surrounding African Americans.
The fact that people who live in the same world where African Americans are still marginalized believe there is no need for Black History Month is the biggest reason we still need it.