n’t be a Black History Month. We’re Americans. Period. That’s it.”
From the moment we begin our grade school circuit of history courses, we’re taught a “wide-ranging” curriculum of American history. The Reconstruction Era, Western Expansion, FDR’s New Deal, and—hell!—even the British monarchy are several exam subjects many dread during their grade school days. But that about covers it.
Certainly there were the three to four paragraphs beneath the Lyndon Johnson unit that glossed over the Civil Rights Movement, neglecting substantial evidence that the president, himself, was a notorious racist; but aside from that, “American history” is about as white as Apple’s board of directors.
The term black serves to be a vessel of empowerment for those under the umbrella; an identifier that breeds a sense of belonging, and purpose. Its concept is far too complex to be seen merely as an adjective.
The “we’re Americans, period” argument is an illusion, that can only be a reality when six Arizona schoolgirls—and the imbeciles who influence them—understand that a derogatory slur is more than “just a word” that certain races “shouldn’t be so offended” by. That such a word was often the last one scores of African-Americans were savagely taunted by seconds before nooses snatched away their final breaths.
Students, today, are gut-wrenchingly clueless that some of our most essential daily mechanisms were invented by African-Americans. They have no idea who Garrett Morgan is, nor that his traffic signal innovations revolutionized transportation for centuries to come.
The societal need for black history, the month, the days and weeks beyond it, is paramount. And frankly, we need Black History Month because that history isn’t represented within American history.
When a group isn’t represented on platforms deemed, arguably, as primary or mainstream, it manufactures platforms to represent itself. Thus, you have Black Entertainment Television.
“But just imagine if we had a White Entertainment Television channel!” Well, we do. It’s CBS, with the casts of “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory”. Just as there was NBC with “Friends”. Sitcoms comprised of all-white casts are essentially a television norm. Yet, outside of BET, one would be hard-pressed to discover several of the opposite.
As a result, and understandably so, some find the aforementioned to be continued evidence of privilege. But it doesn’t stop there. Just the same, privilege is also the roar for justice when the black mayor of Michigan’s first-largest city is tried for a “pattern of extortion,” followed by the enabling silence when the white governor essentially poisons the seventh. When the black quarterback (Cam Newton) is chastised for his on-field jubilation, while his white counterparts (Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers) are heralded as passionate for theirs. And attempting to dispute that might leave you all dressed up, with nowhere to go.
To some, this may be a conflicting ordeal. But the most critical aspect in comprehending this ordeal is to understand that people aren’t asking you to state that you are the problem, rather that there is a problem. And if you can’t do that, you might be the problem.