Since February 1 I have been trying to figure out ways to celebrate Black History Month. Without the context of a school setting and coordinating some obligatory program I have struggled to figure out how to do something during Black History Month other than be black.
I think there’s this feeling obligation tied in with this wanting a reason to claim something as mine. Now I fully acknowledge that I believe that we should celebrate the cultural, social, scientific, intellectual, and other contributions and achievements of all Americans everyday. In many ways that’s what makes the Olympics so great: worldwide athleticism is celebrated despite conflict and politics.
However, I have not done anything to honor or commemorate Black History Month this February, but if it didn’t exist I would feel a sense of loss. Reverend Al Sharpton was on the Wendy Williams show and she asked him whether he thinks Black History Month is still necessary. Watch the video here.
As antiquated as Black History Month may seem, I still think that it is something to hold onto. It is in many ways a recognition of black people’s achievements and a celebration of our humanity. Black History Month says “You count too,” and if it was not marked, even if it is just February, I feel that this would be a step backwards. I think a conversation about getting rid of Black History Month would be more tolerable if Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were not two of the most notorious court cases of the last two years. In one breath we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and in another black men are still treated as Public Enemy #1.
I don’t think that Black History Month is divisive, and truthfully I think students of all races in this country should learn more about it. It’s not just Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. There were a whole lot of men and women before them and there will be many after.
That’s just my two cents…