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Politick: Black History Month

February 22, 2022

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Black History Month misses the point: we are all Americans

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Chief Justice John Roberts declared those words in 2007, and they ring true today.

February is Black History Month, but the list of months that the United States recognizes also include Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, and Polish-American History Month. I find them to be ridiculous; you ought not separate people along the lines of immutable characteristics.

I understand that the creation of months to celebrate ethnicity and race is an effort to increase inclusivity in high school and the community at large. I  appreciate the sentiment, but disagree wholeheartedly with the product. 

We are all Americans. That’s the point. It’s a point that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts understood. It’s a point that millions in the United States understand as well. Americans are diverse and multiracial, a perfect mix of thousands of different ethnicities and cultures, all culminating in the diverse melting pot celebrated today. The argument is simple – we ought to celebrate what makes us Americans, not what separates us from each other. 

Imagine, just for a moment, the creation of a White History Month. Such an idea would be ridiculous; it would be deemed racist within seconds of being announced, banned within minutes. And I don’t disagree. To separate one race’s history from another’s is to drive deep a stake of discrimination and separation. Separating history along racial guidelines is no better than separating people along racial guidelines. 

History is like a gated community. The history we celebrate lives within the gates; everything inside the premise is taught and appreciated, learned and lauded. That history should include all different sorts of people, from all different sorts of backgrounds and creeds. I will be the first to acknowledge that the perfect history curriculum is far from being achieved. But I also realize that months which single out and separate history along racial lines are not the way to a better future. 

Separating history along racial guidelines is no better than separating people along racial guidelines.”

— Reagan Eastlick

Creating “____ History Month” doesn’t bring “___’s” sliver of history into the larger gated community. No – it creates its own gate, constructing another community outside of the original, separating whichever group even further from the history it so desperately seeks to display. 

The United State’s motto is “E Pluribus Unum.” The Latin words translate to “Out of Many, One.” The order of those words are important. It is not “out of one, many.” It doesn’t mean that out of one country we have many cultures and differing points of view (though that may be true). Rather, it means that out of many nations – out of thousands of cultures and dialects, out of hundreds of ethnicities and creeds, out of all of that – come one people. The American people. 

My mother is Hispanic. My dad is of Germanic descent. And yet, they are both Americans. I am an American- my race doesn’t change that. That is what Americanism is, that is who we are. We are one people of a thousand nations. We are a melting pot of hundreds of ideas and inventions and leaders; we reflect the diversity of our population. It was black and white, gay and straight, man and woman, working together that built us into what we are today. And that should be taught, it should be proudly celebrated in every schoolhouse in America.

 A melting pot accepts any and all objects that enter it. It is heated by the fire of a thousand nations, and its product is strengthened by the unique merits of the materials that compose it. What goes in is not the same as what comes out, but what comes out is united. What emerges is a stronger material, a better metal. Diversity is weak without some semblance of unity. And unity comes from accepting all cultures and traits and objects as one thing alone: American.

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Black History Month does not diminish anyone’s culture

Diversity is this country’s greatest strength. The people who cannot recognize that feat are not deserving of a society as great as ours.

Immediately, I want to make something abundantly clear: pro-black does not mean anti-white. When Americans finally realize that the acknowledgement of another person’s greatness does not diminish their own, we will be much better off. The concept of even debating the existence of Black History Month is frankly pathetic. Throughout history, various unspeakable travesties have been committed against black people and have been simultaneously buried in the mess of American history. Black History Month provides an escape to children who have had their culture erased while the culture of others has been forcefully shoved down their throats.

As a young child, the American school system taught me the basics about black accomplishments while requiring me to learn extensive details about white accomplishments. Every year, history classes included the ritualistic, lifeless lessons about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Yes, they were both incredibly influential people. But, call me crazy, I think a curriculum that has time for an in-depth explanation about Napoleon Bonaparte’s French military can spend a few weeks explaining the significance of the 1873 Colfax Massacre.

The ideology that the celebration of one culture subsequently demeans or /outcasts another is unfounded and illogical.”

— Olivia Tulloch

The initial problem with the idea “Black History Month does not change anything” is the thought that it is intended to solve the past. The past is the past, the future is the future. I think we can all agree on that. However, somehow, in our uniquely American way, we disagree in the celebration of specific groups of people. The ideology that the celebration of one culture subsequently demeans or /outcasts another is unfounded and illogical.

The concept of Black History Month was founded in 1926 by a historian named Carter G. Woodson. Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. February serves as a reminder of everything Black people have gone through as a collective unit. If it does not apply to you, simply move on! Just because someone else has something, does not mean you need something equivalent. 

However, somehow, the concept of reverse discrimination has still prevailed. People so delusionally believe that the celebration of race and the discrimination of race are inherently similar. The “what if the roles were reversed” argument is honestly tiring. As a black woman, I am sick of hearing “what if white people [insert absurd proposed objective here].”. You are not me. Your experiences are not my experiences. And that’s what non-black people will never be able to comprehend. 

Black History Month isn’t a simple “Black people are oppressed, let’s give them this handout” month”. It is symbolic in so many forms. It is for the girl who has to constantly correct people when they mispronounce her cultural name. It is for the boy whose dreadlocks are called unprofessional and unkept. It is for the child who doubts their greatness because of a society that perpetuates otherwise.

The creation of Black History Month is one of the few successful steps to promote Blackness across this country. Those who disagree, disapprove, or dislike the concept are simply unaware of their own societal advantages.

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