With the month of February coming to a close, another year of Black History Month will have passed and with it comes the surfacing of cynics, those who argue that #blacklivesmatter holds no relevance in our present culture.
While thankfully the educated majority thinks otherwise, there is one thing that I agree upon to some extent and that is the notion of getting rid of Black History Month.
Rather than designating a mere 28 days to recognize the impact of African American men and women in our country, why not embrace it in each and every 365 days of the year?
At the age of six, I immigrated to the U.S. not knowing a single drop of its history. Much of what I can recall from history lessons consisted of useless facts about white men who wore atrocious wigs while our textbooks failed to give voice to the slaves they owned.
To be completely honest, most first graders can tell you that George Washington once chopped down a cherry tree during his youth and not have a clue of the historical context that got these cherry-tree-chopping-white men on this pedestal of power.
Let’s not forget that white men did not build this great nation alone.
Black history is American history. Our country rests on a foundation of the blood, sweat, and tears of black men, women, and children who have have been forced to forge their own path in this country when the rest of America chooses to abandon them.
Our textbooks and lectures have only gone as far as promoting the mainstream and we have only gone so far as to scratch the surface of a history whose roots are deeply embedded in our country’s identity.
The youth is made to read the works of pivotal black figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and Malcolm X. All the while, we are given sugar-coated anecdotes of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and segregation. Yes, all of which have long been abolished but that does not erase our history and it does not mitigate the symptoms of systematic oppression.
Black History Month is not enough.
Even still, racism is alive and well in America and the color of your skin continues to determine the quality of your health, your education, and your economic status.
Those who dispute this truth need a reality check and clearly we have failed in accomplishing just that.
I urge us to be practitioners of activism.
Black history will remain pertinent in our everyday lives because injustices such as the Flint water crisis occurred, because we elected a leader that was hesitant to denounce endorsements from members of the Klu Klux Klan, and people like Colin Kaepernick are made into pariahs in the eyes of the American public.
Good or bad, there is much value to our country’s history and the acknowledgment of painful truths elicits a necessary component of growth.
Designating the shortest month of the year to black history is simply not enough. Black History Month is not enough.