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.