Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February is Black History Month

One thing I remember hearing as I was growing up: "February is Black History Month". Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press wrote and interesting article about it earlier in the month.

Here is how the article starts out:

I propose that, from this day forward, we stop telling the tale of two Americas and instead document and celebrate the full and storied, multicultural and multidimensional story that is America in all of its colors, geographies and passions, in all of its ups, downs and exhortations.

I propose that, for the first time in American history, this country has reached a point where we are can stop celebrating separately, stop learning separately, stop being American separately. We have reached a point where most Americans want to gain a larger understanding of the people they have not known, customs they have not known, traditions they have not known.

I propose that this month. 142 years after Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 that allowed for the Southern states to be re-admitted to the Union, we adopt our own personal reconstruction goals to admit into our lives people who are different, people whose origins differ from ours, people who can teach us so much if we listen.

I propose that this month we become not the America of Rush Limbaugh or the America of Al Franken, but to become an America where all opinions matter and hope trumps hate.

You can go here to finish reading the article. You know, strike that. I encourage you to follow the link to read the article.

I always thought that it was a slap to designate February, the shortest month of the year, to be Black History Month. When I read the above-mentioned article, a question I asked myself was, "Is the author black?" (She is, by the by.) Almost as if one needs to be black (or African American) in order to give legitimacy to racial arguments. Dr. King was thinking of a color-blind society, and this is definitely not a color-blind way of looking at things.

I was listening to the radio a couple of Sundays ago (Sunday morning radio is filled with church-related broadcasts in Georgia), and I heard nearly a complete sermon from a pastor at a local Baptist church. The pastor started out with a prayer for the incoming president.

The sermon discussed how the election of a black president shows the fulfillment of Dr. King's dream. And, you know what, I can't remember Dr. King talking about the goal being a black man in the White House. I thought his dreams dealt with all of us having the same opportunities. And let's face it, most of us will not have the opportunity to be a politician (and politicians definitely are judged, in part, on the way they look).

Now I don't know if we should not have a Black History Month – growing up, it seemed advantageous to learn about Black Americans that have contributed significantly. Granted, there was no Hispanic Heritage Month. And history class was full of White people who contributed. I guess that is the part of the reason for Black History Month. To shed light on the contributions of Black Americans.

I want there to be no need for Black History Month. Not sure we are there, but if electing Obama has brought us closer to racial divides, then I am happy. Confused, but happy.


LarryLilly said...

Amen sista


But lets keep Columbus day. Even though us eye-tail-enn americans get bad raps in movies and such..... LOL

I wonder if Americans that immigrate to other nations in large enough numbers to form "ghettos" start calling themselves "American-Russians"?

Joe said...

Interesting perspective in that article and one that I had not focused on. I agree with your point, though, that President Obama doesn't symbolize fulfillment of Dr. King's dream. Discrimination still exists in many forms and against a variety of people. There's a lot of work left to be done, but we shouldn't ignore the fact that we've also come pretty far.

AcuityTodos said...

Goodness me! You sound like a Canadian! I happen to agree fully with you.

Leesa said...

larry: syphilis-appreciation day.

joe: I completely agree.

acuity: a Canadian? Aye. Is that how you start all sentences?

AcuityTodos said...

The myth is that all Canadians end sentences or phrases with "eh" (fonetically 'A" :-)).

Larkin said...

I completely agree. There should be no need for it. It seems that King had a very strightforward 'dream' that has been a bit misunderstood in the last several months. I think we, our country as a whole, are making progress. But you and I both know (living in Savannah) that progress is slow. Sure, but slow.

74WIXYgrad said...

Ane while we're at it, let do away with Black Entertainment Television. They don't play any Ray Charles or Charlie Pride on that channel. I'm also willing to bet(no pun intended..who am I kidding?)they won't feature Darius Rucker's latest song.

random moments said...

Agreed. To me, having Black History month still says we're separated. Going to read said article now...

Anonymous said...

I could go on a rant about this, but someone would stop me and say, "Oh, you were never discriminated against. And you never had to suffer."

No, in Texas I never had the chance to NOT have to put a down payment down on my car or house because of my race. Minorities down payments can be waived.

No, I never had to fight for equality for Asians. Why don't we have an Asian History Month? We have an Hispanic HM. We have AA history month. Shouldn't those groups be pressing for ALL ethnicities to have a designated month? Seems racists they would promote their own agendas and not others.

The more we try to talk about race, the more it divides us. We should not have months, no Tongan American month, no Hispanic month. Just months.

You can call me racists, but to throw race in my face is just as racists as me generalizing.


PS ... please introduce me to an African American slave. I haven't met one yet.

Leesa said...

acuity: you see, I thought aye was at the beginning of the sentence. I would make a bad Canadian.

larkin: yeah, I know. I mean, there are some undercurrents of racism that seem to persist.

74: BET is a private company, huh? That does not bother me at all.

knot: I have been discriminated against. It sort of sucks. You know, after the Civil War, African Americans were not treated well in the north. AA had some rights, but hardly anyone would give them a chance. And that is tragic. But the way America dealt with AA helped slow down any progress. Sort of sad.

btsea said...

I'm still back on Monday's post trying to make a limerick. Now it has to be relevant for both today's and Monday's posts... ;(


There once was a girl who loved soap
To get in the White House was her hope!
She wasn't political...
But Avon she did sell!
And the Prez bought her soap on a rope!

SSC~ The Domestic Diva said...

I never thought of it that way of being separated. Hmm I liked this post it made me think outside the box on this one!

btsea said...

Unfortunately where I live, blacks are killing blacks in rival gang wars (Crips, Bloods, etc). I think if Dr. King witnessed this he would be greatly saddened...

Leesa said...

btsea: nice limerick!

ssc: thanks, sweetie.

btsea: gangs really scare me. What is bad is that the police sometimes think when gangs kill other gang members, they don't get that excited. And I agree that he would be saddened.