In a time where segregation was still legal and few blacks attended higher institutions of learning, negro history was still a story yet untold in many social circles around America until Carter G. Woodson proposed a week dedicated to the education of influential blacks throughout American history beginning in 1927.
Often times throughout the month of February we ask ourselves: “What does Black History Month mean to me?” I was taken back when I was asked the question by a friend who was working on a paper of their own, detailing an immaculate list of reasons why Black History month was important to them.
After listening to a few of his reasons he turned and asked me, “What does Black History Month mean to you?” I paused and began to think to myself, and after giving a pretty basic response I sat back and began to get an uneasy feeling as if something wasn’t right. When asked about a month that holds such prowess and prestige in my culture, a question that I had answered many times before, I honestly could not give a valid answer.
“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”-Carter G. Woodson (Founder Black History Month)
I was always told to be proud of who you are as an African American , research my heritage and not only use every day to build a better life for yourself, but to ensure that the life you build supersedes that of the one you are currently living now. The more I thought about the “meaning” of Black History month I could not fathom an agreeable belief that I should set aside one specific month to reflect on the passion I have for my heritage. I became confused. What was my significance if all that was set aside for me was condemned to one month? For the first time I questioned my worth as an African American within mainstream social society.
As I reflect on other cultures I wonder why there is no White history month. And if there was I do not believe any African, Latin, or Asian Americans, all of whom have months set aside for them to reflect on their history, would sit around and talk or commemorate the “contributions “ that White Americans have made to this country. Even with the months we do have set aside for Latin and Asian Americans, no one besides the people who belong to the specific ethnicity slows down to commemorate or even pay attention.
No one embraces the value that every ethnicity has brought to build this country we call America.
Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that as a descendant of people who marched, fought, and died for the rights and freedom we have today, It seems as if we (African Americans) are still seeking significance in this country. Having a specific month dedicated to “my” history is almost like saying “Look at me, I live here too” as if no one sees the commander in chief of our country who is African American himself. It’s a way to segregate ourselves even more than others do to us on a daily basis.
I’m not calling for a rid of Black history month, I am calling for a rid of the bias we play in dividing our America into racial or cultural lines due to skin color. As people, we have all played a significant role in building the history of our dear nation. Once the understanding of the importance of the human being is brought to the forefront the common misconception of Black, White, Asian, or Latino importance will begin to not play as big of a role in our free society. It is not our role to recognize what specific roles our skin color has played in what we (humans) do. It is our role to recognize the significance we all play throughout.