February is national black history month in the United States. At it’s inception, in the 1970’s, we had a black history week, with the purpose of raising awareness of the contributions of African descendants in America, which were absent from history books. This week, eventually evolved into an entire month.Has, however, black history month run it’s course.
Today many individuals, of various races believe it is time to re think black history month. Vince Ei, an Asian American agrees with teens on Twitter, who are asking for a white history month. This just shows, (in my opinion) that young people who have grown up in an integrated society just do not understand. American history as taught in the school systems is “white history”, for the most part.
Johnny Mickler, an African American, and president of the Great Toledo Urban League believes that the history of blacks in American should be incorporated into the history books, and there would be no need for a special month to expound upon the contributions of African Americans.
One of the issues I personally have with this month long observance is repetitiveness. School children learn state and national history while in enrolled at specific grade levels. They do not repeat the same lessons year after year. With black history month, we have seen the same movies, and television specials over and over again, for decades.
How many times do we have to read about Dr. King, Rosa Parks and the march on Selma? History is continually being made, and many African Americans have made significant contribution during the 5 decades since the civil rights movement. For some reason, this nation seems stuck in that era.
One year, while in middle school, my youngest son had write an essay on a famous black person. I chose for him Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. Mr. Johnson was also one of only a very few African American engineers. I thought the teachers would appreciate a fresh perspective, and enjoy hearing about someone different. but I was wrong.
The winner of the essay contest went predictably, to a student who wrote about Dr. King. I appreciate every contribution Dr. King made, but he alone is not responsible for the civil rights movement or every aspect of African American history,
If current predictions hold true, 50 years from now, America will no longer be in black and white. There is already a growing population muti- ethnic citizens in this nation. Should a child have a father who is part Hispanic and part black, a mother who is part Asian and part Arabic, is it fair that they can only learn about 1/4th of their identity, during a specific month?.
I have grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, who are considered “black”, yet at least one of their parents are Peurto Rican, Caucasian, Mexican, or bi-racial. My mother’s grandfather was white, my father’s grandfather was 100% Cherokee. My great grandmother ‘s mother was part Native American.
All 3 of my children were born with Mongolian blue spots which indicates a mixing of races. There is also Native American and white in my husband’s family. This is not about denying black heritage, but embracing all of who we are, without denying other parts of our heritage.
Regardless of labels on a form, or how light or dark one is, we are all Americans. Yes I believe it is time to rethink African American History month. And to quote my grandmother; “Just because your skin is lilly white, or black as the ace of spades, it does not mean that there was not some mixing in your genealogy.