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2.02.2008

When I was a kid, I subscribed to the idea that even Black History Month was racist, because hey, wasn't it the shortest month of the year? My dad was like, well, it used to be a week.

Me, being a conspiracy theorist, said the following: "Well, maybe they put it in the shortest month of the year just in case."

"They" being the government. Or something. Sue me, I was 8, and fuzzy on the details.

Like many African Americans (or at least I assume so) my relationship with BHM hasn't always been a happy one. On one hand, having a month to celebrate and explore the contributions blacks have made to this country is great. On the other, getting half-assed lessons from white teachers who don't know or care (or secretly think we don't need a month) doesn't really work.

And then there are those who wonder why blacks get a month and no one else does. (Raise your hands if you knew Latino History Month is in August. I learned that from the Disney Channel.). My position on that ridiculous question is simply this: a) if you don't know why by now, there's no point explaining it to you, and b) if you still think it's unnecessary, you're probably a racist. (No offense.)

BHM is almost all pre-Civil Rights history. It acknowledges the struggles of the past, but not those of the present. Yes, George Washington Carver invented the peanut (I'm kidding, but you know what I mean), and MLK had a dream, and my soror Althea Gibson broke barriers in tennis; but then you have Venus and Serena who are still fighting tennis commentators' racism today, and black actors who struggle for truly brilliant roles. And those who do win - Halle and Denzel and Jennifer - are briefly lauded and then everything goes back to the status quo. (Raise your hand if you can tell me how many black actors were nominated for this year's Academy Awards.)

The thing about BHM that bothers me is that it makes it ok to celebrate the successes made a generation or five ago, but it doesn't acknowledge the fact that black history is still being made every day.

Did I mention I've been meaning to pick up a copy of "Racism Without Racists?"

Anyway, happy BHM, ya'll! Here we go again...

6 new thought(s):

jameil1922 said...

ONE. GO RUBY DEE!! lmao @ "(No offense.)" i'm so down w/BHM. love it.

Stacie von Kutieboots said...

Jewish History Month is January.

As of late (since I got to college) I've been pissed about BHM. Like I said on MLK Day, there's more to BH than George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks (I know that' your girl ooh! althea gibson is a FAMU/Beta Alpha AKA!!) & MLK. Dreams and peanut. If you're lucky, you get a cotton gin and a gas mask out of a teacher. I am SOOOOOOOOOO glad I'm an educator. I'm bout to get fired for being a zealot.

the joy said...

I knew when LHM was because we actually celebrated it in school.

Yeah I agree about all this... Can we act like people are doing something to further our people TODAY? Geez.... My brother's favorite teacher got fired for interspersing black history into every day lessons. Luckily he taught them about non violent protest and sit ins before he left.

shani-o said...

Jam- Lol! Holla! Ruby Dee is so freakin' iconic!

Stace- I think I knew that about JHM. I think. And yeah, you're for sure right about the being lucky to get a cotton gin (but not the history of torture associated with it). Tell 'em why you mad!!! (but don't get fired!!)

Joy- thank you! We're still making strides, but if we say that, then we're admitting that racism still exists. And how can you have racism without any racists?!

jameil1922 said...

did Stace just say dreams and peanut? *dead*

La said...

Being the racial radical that I am, Black History month bothers me for the same reasons. I'm supposed to be excited you gave me a half ass month with other holidays ensconsed therein (vday, President's Day) and you teach me old and dated rhetoric rather than anything that has to do with modern Black history? bah and BOO.

I probably won't be celebrating Black History Month with any future lil La's... because we will be celebrating and learning daily. And about things that are relevant, not pictures in a history book.

Oh and OF COURSE I knew about Latino History month, lol