Acknowledging Black History Month

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

February is Black History Month or National African American History Month. It is a month to recognize and acknowledge the achievements and accomplishments of African Americans. Some people may not feel it is necessary to designate a month especially to recognize African Americans. But as we all know, historically, people of African descent have been marginalized if not totally left out of our history books. All too often, if African Americans are listed, they are only projected in a negative light, not noting the positive contributions and achievements they have presented to the world. Some would agree that the negative depiction of African Americans was done intentionally, to promote Blacks as inferior, thus promoting White supremacy.

Regardless of one’s personal views, Black History Month is needed to help bring to light the true beauty, ingenuity, and greatness of a dynamic people. The need for this month is supported by the great racial divide that apparently exists in this country now. It should be obvious to anyone with eyes that all too often and even with this country claiming to promote diversity, it’s all about indoctrination and assimilation to a Eurocentric agenda. This may be an area of contention for some Whites who are not sensitive to the feelings of Blacks or are in denial because of living a life of entitlements and privileges that are inherent with being born White in America. It is not about any one person. It is about educating the world to the perseverance, creativity, and achievements of African Americans. This month helps in eradicating lies and myths told in the past to rationalize degrading African Americans through slavery, discriminatory practices and Jim Crow laws.

Our history is what it is, good or bad, and we must not dilute it or sugarcoat it to pacify the conscience of those who oppressed us. Our schools should be a primary conduit to enrich students through education to the history of Blacks. The trials and tribulations of Blacks in America is vital to anyone who truly wants to understand the political, economic, and social status of African Americans as we stand today.

Black History Month is necessary to help African Americans discard the veils of self-hate and hopelessness prevalent among many Blacks, especially children living in a reality that deprives them of the real truth of their relevance and greatness. This month offers itself as a gateway to those seeking the truth about the beauty of an awesome people, devoid of the lies from those seeking to oppress them.

But all too often many predominately White schools dilute or do very little to recognize Black History Month. The truth lies in the fact that many White teachers do not feel comfortable teaching Black history or may harbor racist views because of their upbringing. You must also understand that the history of Blacks in America is an often ugly history and many Whites do not want their children to feel bad about their ancestors. There are some schools that are so uncomfortable with the title Black History Month that they want to call it Diversity Month or Presidents’ Month. Anything to refrain from designating one month to recognize and honor Blacks is a problem for many of our White counterparts.

Black History Month is just that, a ‘Black History Month.’ It should be delegated to the history of Blacks. You must remember that African American history is American history, and if taught and truly integrated as history, there would be no need to have a Black History Month. When all is said and done, it is an undeniable fact that learning and exploring the African American experience can be very rewarding for anyone wanting to heighten their horizons. The traditions and culture of African Americans can be found in their cooking, music, dance, clothing, creativity, and spirituality. Black History Month makes us more appreciative of this beautiful tapestry making up what we call America.