Black History Month


by Mamaneh • While watching the History Channel today, there was an hour of programing dedicated to George Washington Carver, the man who invented peanut butter. At first, I wondered why there was an hour dedicated to peanut butter. I thought it had something to do with the Salmonella problem we have had recently, then it dawn on me, it was BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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Truthfully, I forgot. It is not like it used to be. Every year in February, all channels and radio stations saluted Black History Month. When you are in school, there are posters and classes, announcements, but over the last couple of years, things have just sort of faded.

I have never been an advocate of Black History Month. I celebrated when I could and did not care when I didn’t. It just did not matter as much. I may be pushing it, but I think that many Africans agree that there are just certain holidays and celebrations that Africans really do not care about. But, like all things American, we roll wih the crowd. Well, that is what this Historic month is to me.

When I first heard of Black History Month, I was so perplexed. I remembered asking my teacher why there was a month dedicated to blacks. I know this sounds a little crazy, but bear with me. I understood what blacks had endured in this country and I understood the civil rights movement, but I was still a little confused as to why we had a month. My teacher answered it like all teachers who are not black do. She said that because of all the inequalities that blacks had to endure and the many strides they had made today, it is necessary to celebrate their freedom and accomplishments. I thought to myself, if we had done so much, why only a month? Why not everyday? If not everyday, then why not 2 months, or six?

And then, someone made a joke about February being the shortest month in the year. Wow, what an injustice. But, it made sense to me then, and it still does today. Blacks do not need a month to celebrate. If I’m wrong, then please correct me. I think what we need everyday to emphasize the endless possibilities of being black, the opportunities we sometimes take for granted, and the roles we play as people, as Americans. It is fair to say that we already know our history. We wrote it. If one month in a year is all we need to celebrate it, then maybe we do not need to celebrate. That is a limit we are giving ourselves. If it is just one month, then we need to work even harder to make more contributions to ourselves and our country so that we can celebrate many more months.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I’m not surprise that there’s not much on T.V. about black history month and not much talk either. Maybe now that Obama is in office, it is of even less significance. But, watching that program today on the History Channel confirms that blacks have made it. We are no longer second class citizens. We are every part of America that it can ever be. Whites do not get a history month. I don’t know if Asians or Latinos do either, so why should we? While their stories do not exactly parallel ours, Asians and Latinos are just as disenfranchised as any minority group. I know they were not slaves, but I’m sure their injustice was not as easy either.

Everyday should be Black History. We were not slaves for one month, nor were we second class citizens one month in a year. We were unequal for 365 days none stop and our history should be told and celebrated for every minute of each day of the year.

Originally published 2/6/09