UHCL The Signal
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A few years ago, I took advantage of being on my high school newspaper and applied my skills as a writer to explain as best as I could the reason people shouldn’t ask “Why don’t we have a White History Month?” I wanted to clear up the history, the meaning and the true intention of Black History Month. Even after all these years, I still consider it a fine explanation for those with such concerns.
That story was written and published in February 2016, in what would have been the 90th anniversary of the founding of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the predecessor to Black History Month. Now, 92 years later, we once again find ourselves in the month that sparks an annual debate about the merits of Black History Month and what all it can truly accomplish.
As a black American in college, having had more years of wisdom and time to evaluate this month I proudly embrace, I think it’s time to show a new angle from which to approach the longevity of Black History Month. Rather than question why there is a Black History Month, we should raise a new question: Why are there so many people who still feel the need to acknowledge, continue and celebrate Black History Month in the first place?
To be frank, the reason Black History month continues to be embraced every year is because so many people feel its purpose still stands, that purpose is to shine a light on the contributions black Americans have provided in this country’s history. Carter G. Woodson felt that equality didn’t truly come unless one culture’s history was acknowledged as much as the other.
The month has long stood as a way for black Americans to have their place in the country’s history be appreciated. That being said, if many are continuing to celebrate and see a need for Black History month, then that means that most black Americans still feel that they and their history are underappreciated and that they are not given the credit and acknowledgment they deserve.
I think one mistake many non-black Americans in this country have often made regarding the plight of black Americans is not trying to understand or think about why certain actions are taken. Whether it be today, where many chose not to consider why Colin Kaepernick took a knee in the first place, or 50 years ago when the FBI labeled Martin Luther King Jr. as a threat to the country, there has been a consistent trend in which many white Americans have chosen to not to think about why blacks have taken certain actions for reasons such as racism, prejudice and cultural bias.
When many white Americans ask the age-old question, “Why don’t we have a White History Month?” The age-old answer has always been “every other month is White History Month.” If a majority of Americans, many black, and even white, continue to give such an answer to this question, then that only shows that many Americans feel our current history books and curriculum continue to not suffice in giving all races their due credit. Despite much change that has come in the 92 years since Black History Month’s genesis, the embracing of Black History Month continues to show that many black Americans feel their history needs further acknowledgment for their accomplishments.
It has been clear for decades now that the perspectives on current racism differ between blacks and whites. CNN revealed in a series of polls that a large majority of black Americans feel that there is still a racism problem in America and that blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the workplace. The same poll was given to whites and revealed much lower results in comparison. When we look at these results, we can see why many black Americans feel that Black History Month is something that should continue to embraced and taken advantage of.
As black America continues to embrace and take advantage of the month of February, we can only wonder if the day will come when black America will not feel that their history and role in this country is underrepresented and not given the light it deserves to have shined upon it.