Monday, February 6, 2012

Black History Month Should Not Be Enough.

I understand why Black History Month (originally Negro History Week) was created. We wanted a formal acknowledgement that our contributions to America were valued and respected and we also wanted to ensure that our children and other children would learn the truth about our struggles, successes and contributions gaining knowledge on all of the historical events that we are a major part of in the making of America.

We are now in the 21st century and my question would be this. Has Black History Month served the purpose for which it was created?

24/7 365
What is the endgame?
Is it readily noticeable to you that Black people in America are respected and that our lives and contributions are respected and valued?  The answer for that to me is a big fat NO.  And we participate in our own disrespect.

I think that we have concentrated so much on the aesthetic/formality that we forgot that there was something deeper to be garnered or expected.  Making something out of nothing is what we do because historically we have always had to and I believe those experiences over time cultivated an innate ability to transform anything that we want if we are willing to work hard at it.  I think that we have essentially gotten tired and lazy about getting the job done.  Other people are just now discovering exactly what it feels like to make ends meet with no ends when far too many black people have been doing exactly that for centuries in America.

I get it.  I mean who wants to have to fight or challenge every. damn. thing. every. damn. day. in order to live decent lives.  But is that it?  Do we really want to give up all of the years of hard work by those that had it a hell of a lot rougher than we could ever imagine?

Have we accepted our forced exclusion?
The more that we try to be "a part of" by assimilating into our currently distorted white centric society, the more it cripples our ability to stand against the horrendous economic, educational and social disparities in America affecting far too many of us-- effectively surrendering our right to be.  We live in a world that would like all people to believe that our value as people is limited and that our value should and can be controlled by others whenever they feel that we are of use and can serve a purpose to accomplish their goals.  Does "(________) is the new Black" sound familiar?  Or what about "Women are the new Nigger"?  We are tools for most of society to make a point or to reach their goals.  That could not have been what was envisioned for us by our ancestors.

Making do with a month long remembrance of the same recycled Black heroes and events that have been accepted by white American comfort levels seems disrespectful to all of the many Black ancestors that gave so much to this country.  It is past time for us to make something more out of it. 

Conscious living is important.
I must admit that I have resented the need for a Black History Month since I was in High School.  Black Americans are people that live on a tight rope because we are always on the verge of being history (as in non-existent).  We walk gingerly in this world fearing that very thing because if we do too much or go too far for societal comfort by disclosing and expecting for the societal ills of America to be redressed then we risk being seen (by white privileged society) as not being real Americans.  The current state of affairs with the way President Obama has been treated proves that no matter what we do to better this country, there are those that will continue to see us as not being real Americans.  Always be aware of that.

Never stop.  Do not stop thinking, learning, teaching, feeling, believing and doing everything in your power to declare and preserve our right to have decent lives and to have all of our lives and contributions valued by everyone.  Questioning and challenging America's disservice and dishonesty towards all of it's citizens and their contributions is what all Americans should do.  The way that this racialized America continues is by withholding ALL of this country's history from the future leaders that should know it and right now Black History Month in its current form does very little to counter that possibility.

We all deserve the opportunity to live better and live with purpose.
A large majority of American children in elementary and secondary education are learning from antiquated models and the information that they are learning is heavily redacted biased and/or misleading.  For Black children and other non-white children who do not have parents that are able to counter and supplement their knowledge that means that they grow up believing that white people are superior to them especially if they are getting their cues from the media and popular culture.

What I am about to say may be hard for some to hear.  But we have not been doing a great job at ensuring that our children grow up with positive influences at their immediate disposal so that the negative influences in popular culture are not allowed to inform their minds and their decisions.  They are exposed way to early to situations that are not easy for an adult to discern or resist but yet we expect for children to do it.  Our children's greatest influence should be us and we should be worthy of that responsibility.

"Each One, Teach One", is an African proverb that should be ingrained in the mindset of every Black person.  It is important that every Black child knows and sees that is possible to do anything they want in life.  I love this moment in time for Black children who will never remember the time before a Black President.  It does make a difference for a Black child to see someone that looks like them doing extraordinary things in life.  To see our own reflection in this world is a very powerful affirmation for everyone and it is extremely important for a Black child.

I will end this post with another proverb, "If you want to go quickly you go alone. If you want to go far you go together".  It is vital for all Black people to remember this if we do not want to see our lives extinguished.

This subject matter was larger than expected so there will be more posts to follow.

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