by Kaya Garza
Ever since Black History Month became a thing, there were people who stood firmly against it. There were people who said, “Gee. Why don’t me and my white ancestors get a history month? Don’t you think that’s a bit racist?”
Well, let me explain it to you.
Let’s start from the beginning. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. His intentions were very clear- he wanted to create such a time where the successes and triumphs of African-Americans were no longer overlooked and disregarded, and to cultivate an environment of learning, respect, and understanding. This eventually turned into “Black History Month,” which was celebrated in certain colleges and communities, and finally became recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Now, like we have seen, people were indifferent to the notion of a month dedicated to people who aren’t white, because this “separates black people from being Americans.”
Now, claiming they aren’t Americans is clearly atrocious, but honoring them, their history and cultures which we spent so long trying to erase, is NOT an act of separation and division, it is an act of respect and reparation.
When the majority of our elementary history was dedicated to certain “heroes” of the Civil War like Robert E. Lee, to our Founding Fathers, to our long line of clearly white presidents, to our colonial roots, the books have simply overlooked African-American achievement- and one month, trust me, couldn’t even cover a quarter. To honor such achievements of these true heroes and innovators of our country’s history is vital, and an absolute obligation.
Claiming that we should simply be blind to color and race is a sick attempt at burying the issues in the ground and pretending they don’t exist. Ignoring beautiful cultures and ways of life is not only ridiculous, but careless.
It is incorrect to suggest that a month dedicated to black people is an act of racism against white people who feel that their history is being erased in the process. This is a country built upon white supremacy; the “heroes” of our past are drenched in blood. This is a country where slavery has continually progressed- from chains, to segregation, to stereotypes- and everything in between. The endless media that pertains to ideas that every young black boy wants to be a basketball player and that every young black girl is loud and sassy, and that the “hood” and gangs are the closest thing to success black people will get is all that’s been fed into our brains. Black people are not drug dealers, gang members, and so on – they are doctors, soldiers, scientists, authors, and the like.
They have been too long overlooked. Asking for appreciation for 28 days out of the year is not racist, it is equalizing.