Down-playing Black History Month

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Black History Month is celebrated in the month of February and is conclusively dedicated to honoring and acknowledging the achievements and accomplishments of Black people in the United States as well as the world. Unfortunately this is an attempt to educate the public on information and facts that should have been common knowledge (if we lived in a perfect world where everyone was considered equal and noteworthy). There has always been an element here in America whose racist and brutal practices sought to void or trivialize the contributions of people of color, whom they considered inferior and irrelevant.

By controlling the media, White supremacy was subliminally taught by vilifying and dehumanizing Blacks. There were only a handful of Blacks that the history books deemed news worthy. Thus you had generations of young adults and children, Black and White, growing up believing Blacks were inferior—playing no significant role in society as a whole. We know that nothing could be farther from the truth. It is vital to educate the public to undo years of lies and deception displaying Blacks as secondary in promoting to the progress of civilization.

Learning the true history of Blacks and their treatment in the United States is not to promote animosity or hate toward those who oppressed Blacks, but to educate and awaken those who are interested in correcting a wrong and eliminating false and erroneous information acting to portray most Blacks in a negative light. There have always been Whites throughout history fighting against the unjust treatment of Blacks, e.g., abolitionists and Whites who marched side by side with Blacks advocating for civil rights for all people during the Civil Right Movement.

The public education system has been one of the most detrimental arenas for generating low self-esteem and fostering a sense of inferiority among Black children by their portrayal of White men and women as heralded heroes of the world. Until Black History Month came along, discussions about history focused on Whites and their contributions to mankind even in many integrated classrooms. With White children always hearing positive and productive things about people who look like them, they often feel entitled and privileged—while Black children often feel inadequate and unimportant. Many would argue that this is a systematic practice subconsciously promoting White supremacy.

Regardless of your personal views, history should be taught truthfully and be inclusive. It should not be sugar-coated or down played because one may be uncomfortable with past events. Contrary to what many may think, there are several White teachers who have truthfully confessed that they are not comfortable teaching Black History. They must be reminded that Black history is history and that their uneasiness is why it is so important to look at history collectively, inclusive of all people. It is not hard to understand that many Whites, especially in the south, were not taught to respect the achievements and accomplishments of Blacks. American History is not always a pretty picture, if told truthfully. In fact, some predominantly White schools are so uncomfortable about Black History Month that they opt to change the objective and rename the month Diversity Month or concentrate on other topics, less controversial.

It is no secret that some schools will trivialize the month and do just as little as possible, so they don’t appear uninterested or totally insensitive. Some schools still have administrations that harbor the racist poison fed to them by mothers and fathers and relatives who were remnants of a society reeking in racist and segregationist policies. Black History Month is not to be shared with any other group, renamed, downplayed, or diluted to pacify people who are not comfortable or interested in learning about Black achievements or accomplishments. The public, especially students are entitled to the truth. It shouldn’t be sugar coated or diluted so White children can be sheltered from learning about the heinous practices and rationalizations of so many of their forefathers.

History shouldn’t harbor hatred and animosity. It should make sure some of the mistakes of the past are not revisited. One day we may live in a world where everyone is respected and treated equally—one where Black history will be accepted and taught as history. Once Black history is truly recognized and integrated, there will be a greater appreciation of a beautiful, proud, spiritual, loving and productive people of Black ancestry.