I’m upset with Black History Month. I don’t want it to happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that Black History Month should be cancelled, and I think you have, too.
Every month, around February, I get a call from someone asking me for my opinions on Black History. I’m fairly certain it’s not so much for my profound ideas on the subject more than it’s because I actually have ideas on the subject. It probably helps that I’m black.
And it never fails: We all pretend to be proud about things that we aren’t really all that thrilled about.
Things that lots of white people tend to believe they’re being made to feel guilty for—like slavery, racism and poverty and things that lots of black people tend to believe they’re being made to feel angry about—like…well, slavery, racism and poverty
while the rest of America—the Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Cuban Americans, Native Hawaiians, Colombian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Dominican Americans, Native Alaskans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish Americans, Biracial & Multiracial Americans—all just kind of wait it out on the sideline while we make a fuss about February.
[Sure, we have Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May, and Hispanic Heritage Month is October 15 through September 15but all the fuss is about February.]
But why all the fuss?
Well, I think it’s because white people feel guilty and black people feel angry
and we just can’t seem to get past that for some reason so we just reboot, and do it all over again every February.
This is why I dig Math sometimes…Math doesn’t worry much about race. There are no Black History Month Math Questions.Not many But there is this:
If Negro Achievement Week lasted from 1926-1976, which was one week for 50 years, then that’s 50 Weeks,and 50 weeks is just shy of one year;
and Black History Month has gone from 1976-2012, which has been one month for 36 years,then that’s 36 months and 36 months is 3 years;
and America has existed as a country from 1776-2012, which is 236 years,
then of the 236 years that America has been a country,almost 4 have been officially “dedicated to celebrating the contributions of Black Americans”;
additionally, the Non-White population of America is roughly 36%,and 4 out of 236 years is not even 2%.
All things being equal in America, why is this not?
I had four years of French when I was in school, went to Paris, and couldn’t even order a soda. I did get asked by an African why I referred to myself as African-American, though…he spoke English—fluently.
So America has had a total of 4 years of Black History in its 236 year history, and we walk around with a 4 year old understanding of the contributions of Black Americans,
and in typical 4 year old fashion, we throw tantrums about the stuff we don’t like.
That’s why I’m upset with Black History Month. I don’t want it to happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that it should be cancelled, and I think you have, too.
It kind of feels like American History is a document that Black History Month has spent 86 years now trying to edit, and still hasn’t gotten the ink on the pages correct.
Is there anything new being taught or celebrated? Are there some other little known inventors of well-known products to be discussed? Is there a new poem? A new poet? A new president?!
Nope. There’s just February.
Guilt and Anger.
Black History Month is like the food stamps of holidays…
No, Black History Month is like the ‘N-Word’ of months:
There are several ‘White’ counterparts to it, but none of them has nearly as much impact or focus;
both black people and white people understand the significance of it but see it in totally different ways for the exact same reason;
black people think that somehow holding on to it is going to help provide some sense of identity that would probably be better served by actually letting go of the idea that that alone is going to help with the identity crisis of a whole race of people;
white people aren’t overly outwardly enthusiastic about it, but can sometimes be okay with the idea of it as a means to show people just how open minded they really are (or can be)…and how racist they never were;
and companies utilize it as a means of making people feel as though they’re helping the cause of everybody getting along or eliminating racism by creating products that give people the opportunity to show outward displays of where they stand with it (shout out to Kente cloths).
So I wear my blackness like the Emperor wore his New Clothes—proud and pompous.
And it takes the utterance of a child to make me realize that I’m actually wearing nothing at all.
A child says, “We’re all the same” until the point that an adult points out the difference or teaches them what the differences they see really mean.
And my insistence that we can never be truly colorblind is a stance I’m wishing someone could refute with some validity, but I doubt that will happen any time soon.
Because when an adult tells me, “I don’t see color.” I’m always baffled, because I know I’m black. I see it in every mirror I walk by…but even more, I wonder how do you match your clothes every day?
And I feel good about saying this with my February Blackness fitting me like a fine suit, ready to be as angry as anyone can expect from a black man who knows he’s black,
ready to hear some apologies from the white man who I’m sure hates My Month,who’s upset with February. He doesn’t want it to happen, and has come to the conclusion that Black History Month should be cancelled,
and he hopes you have, too.I know I have, in my fine February Black Suit, crafted from anger and resentment built up from my four year old knowledge of self.
I’ve decided it should be cancelled, too.
But nobody will let me forget, they keep trying to get me to remember.
They keep calling me every February, asking questions about my blackness,
like I’m supposed to know something.
I’m wanting it to just be February, and their guilt is making me angry.
I love how white guilt is the driving force behind perpetuating ignorance they say “stop blaming me for the past; let’s just make a better future.”Easy to say for the person who’s done wrong. If the world worked that way it would be easier for released convicts to get jobs.
And it may be true that you didn’t do anything wrong, which means you have nothing to feel guilty about. The same way the children of the convict didn’t do anything wrong, so they have nothing to feel guilty about.But the children of the victims…well, they generally feel the need to hold on to some of the anger, some of the pain.
I wonder if anyone who has ever lost a loved one was ever told, while they were commemorating the memory of that person who is now gone, to just forget about them. When they have a memorial service or acknowledge that person is gone, everybody tells them, “you keep bringing up old stuff; get over it already.” because that would be kind of insensitive.
If your father killed my father, I wouldn’t blame you…you didn’t do anything wrong. But just because I don’t blame you doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop acknowledging the wrong your father did. Nor should you forget. Your family should know as well. We simply cannot sanitize history so that it only reflects the good—because that’s not healthy.
Yet, this is what we do.We give it a go again and again
and then expect different results…or is that it?We don’t expect different results.We don’t expect anything different.We actually don’t care that much at all,because we comfortable with that Anger and that Guilt
and we all really just wish Black History Month would just go away. And since there’s no one to direct my anger towardwho hasn’t already been bombarded with useless guilt, I’m upset with Black History Month. I don’t want it to happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that Black History Month should be cancelled,
and I’m pretty sure you have, too.