*We are now in the middle of Black History Month. Some of us are also in the middle of silly arguments over whether or not the tradition of celebrating Black history during one month each year should continue.
On one side of the argument are people who realize that if not for the February celebration, Black History would continue on it’s ride at the back of the education bus, relegated to three or four pages in the American History books and a brief discussion, if at all.
On the other side of the argument are people with incomplete lines of thinking, who only go as far as the assertion that Black History should not be relegated to one month a year. Their thoughts are that Black History is an integral portion of American History and that it should be taught alongside every other portion of the nation’s past.
Good argument, but incomplete.
The problem is that Black History was never celebrated alongside every other portion of this country’s history and is not now. Instead, Black History was obfuscated and when touched on, revealed in fragmented and sometimes false context, if at all. And, there are no immediate plans to integrate Black History into the rest of American history.
The argument for the abolition of Black History Month is incomplete because it calls for the destruction of the celebration, but pursues no real plan for creating a real method of delivery of Black History into American history.
The incomplete argument is similar to the boneheads who want to destroy Affirmative Action, but have no plan to address the lack of parity in our society.
Such incomplete arguments place the cart before the horse.
To this day, very little Black History is taught in our schools. Now, if in fact, American educational institutions had begun to correct this mistake, then perhaps it would make sense to no longer assign Black History to one month a year. However, the curriculum of elementary and high schools is still sorely lacking when it comes to teaching the achievements and contributions of African Americans to this society.
The argument to abolish Black History month is incomplete and silly because it includes the inane assumption that Black History Month is the actual reason for our history not being recognized as an intrinsic portion of American History. The reality that is ignored in pursuit of the abolition argument is that Black History Month (originally established as Negro History Week by historian Carter G. Woodson), was established because our history was being overlooked.
And there are two crucial problems with the abolition argument.
First, ignorant Negroes are at the helm of the push to abolish the celebration. Who asked them to wake up and decide that the entire race of African Americans no longer desire or need the celebration? That would be no one.
Second, these ignorant Negroes with dubious intentions are suggesting that Black History be taught all year, but are making absolutely no movement towards bringing such into being.
Morgan Freeman, a Negro who drove Miss Daisy with pride, woke up one day after realizing that he was Black and mused on 60 Minutes: “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” In all of his fake outrage, I heard nothing about establishing a method for taking our history into any of the places it belongs.
Quite frankly, I am not offended by having my history celebrated during one month each year. I know that no matter what, that month comes around each year. I also know that during the month, not only do more non-Black Americans pay attention to my history, but many Black Americans take the time to pay attention to it, when they may not do so otherwise.
I also know that until this nation erases more of its racism and ignorance to it’s own diversity, having one month each year really isn’t a harmful event.
Joyce King, a freelance writer who supports Morgan Freeman’s empty charge against proverbial windmills, recently wrote in USA Today: “There are two ways to make Black history more accessible—teach it every month and stop calling it that. US History is who we all are, what shaped us.”
That sounds cute, but until we get to the point where Black History really is taught every month and recognized as a crucial part of U.S. History, then eradicating Black History Month is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater or putting the cart before the horse.
Let’s put the cart after the horse where it belongs. All of the people who think that we should abolish Black History Month should work together to establish Black History curriculum in the schools. When that is firmly ensconced, then and only then, should we put an end to Black History Month.
So, to the Negroes like Morgan Freeman, who believe they are doing or saying something revolutionary, my suggestion is just this: Pick up a book next month and learn something about Black History you didn’t know and then share that with someone who isn’t Black or doesn’t know.
That’s really what the month is all about.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles in 2011and returns to the stage in March of 2012. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected].