During February, black people are recognized for their innovative works, their civil rights movement and other accomplishments in US history. As a black American woman, Black History Month symbolizes a few things to me: respect, encouragement, education. It is among the one time that non-black people are forced to show respect to black people. They have to at least acknowledge that black people deserve respect as much as any other race in our great nation. Also during this month, the recognition of accolades going to black people is set as a reminder that children can do great things if they dare to dream and put in hard effort to accomplish their goals. Schools are supposed to teach their students of past mistakes or terrors that paved the way for corrections and improved conditions of life.
“But why do we need a whole month to recognize the good things black people have done?” some may ask. The real question should be “Why don’t we have Black History every month?” Someone very close to me pointed out that of all the months to select for this holiday, the US government chose one with the fewest days in the calendar system. This upset me because it was unfair. Yet, when this holiday came to fruition in 1976, this must have been considered great, regardless of the concession. They must have said, “We’ll appease these negroes by saying how proud we are of them, but we don’t want everyone else to be unhappy about it. So, let’s just give them 28 days.”
Recently, a black American celebrity, whom I previously had so much respect for, went on a live news talk show and spoke ill of a channel that praises black people and attempts to make them feel wanted and recognized. Her opinion of this channel was that it only further divides black people from other races and is a terrible form of entertainment for black people. When I heard this, my initial reaction was to merely change the channel and turn off the show that she was appearing on. Yet, my second reaction was, “How dare she?! She’s going against her own people!” (I was watching her while at work, so it took me a moment to let her words sink in.) It’s safe to say that I no longer like this woman who I once used to hold in high esteem. I probably should never have held her so high because she’s merely a washed-out actress/model who is doing whatever it takes to be relevant in today’s society. Sorry, I went on a slight tangent. But this channel, that I admire so much, gets so much flack by (usually) non-blacks. It sticks in my mind the way that Black History Month does.
There is a large number of people who love the premise of recalling the good things blacks have done all in one month and there are others who hate that it be celebrated at all. I honestly feel as if black people should be praised year-round and should be taught that we have so much potential, regardless of the images the media paint of us: High black unemployment numbers; high black criminal records; high black poverty rates. The only saving grace for this black generation is the current US president, Barack Obama. Although he’s half black, he’s considered black enough. This president is proof that a black man can achieve greatness and become the most powerful man in this nation. He wasn’t the solution to all of black people’s problems, but at least he serves as a role model for black people.
I pray that I use each day of Black History Month to remind myself that I am valuable. I want to feel as though the injustices done to my forefathers (and foremothers) and directly to me are but a blip in time, because there are more good things to come. I want my younger siblings to know they will contribute to society one day because of the hardships made by black people.
Here are some links to interesting articles in honor of Black History Month: