Not Black History Month
Every year, Black History month rolls around in February, and we Black folk chant the mantra: “Every month should be Black History Month.” The speeches resound, the ceremonies are applauded, many of which are attended (and even organized) by White people. March 1st arrives, and the nation returns to a state of complacent ignorance about Black history.
“There is no objective reality, only subjective reality.” Wise words told to me by Dr Mel Goldstein, a professor at Stonybrook University. From my vantage point, it is relevant to the portrayal of objective historical fact. As a child, my Black history was limited to African “savages,” slavery, Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist, and George Washington Carver, who invented countless ways to use the peanut. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that the West Coast of Africa was a mecca of higher mathematics; that in African culture, the concept of Madonna and child of the Deity preceded the Christian Madonna and child. Or even that there existed Black slave holders in America. I was raised in a White Anglo Saxon school system, whose history books and curricula reflected the WASP interpretation of reality.
Much of today’s African American behavior recounted in the news reflects a behavioral psychology with roots in American Black History. Without a clear understanding of the past from the Black perspective, today’s behavior is subject to misinterpretation. But if I, a Black woman, was misinformed, miseducated, how can I expect my White counterpart to truly understand my people?
You can start by observing history in the making through the eyes of media that reflect the Black point of view. Brighthouse Networks channel 146 airs a daily program at 9:00 am, News One Now, hosted by Roland Martin. In a panel format, it presents a variety of highly educated Black experts on all aspects of life, and provides a wealth of information for anyone who truly wishes to grasp the minority culture. Ebony magazine, found in most Black homes and on newsstands across America, features Black people from politics, education, business, entertainment, and just plain everyday living.
You have a Black neighbor down the street, across town, or on your job. I would recommend making friends with at least one. Invite them home to your family. My personal experience has been that those adults who grew up among people of other ethnicities are most likely to be accepting of other races. As children, they saw the reality of the goodness in all people. When experiencing differences face-to-face, children see past the lies of bigotry and carry a more pure vision into their adult lives.
I embrace the mantra: “Every month should be Black History Month.”
Author of You CAN Go Home Again
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Thank you for your elegant expression of the need for a point of view that embraces, not just tolerates, people of color. I was fortunate enough to have attended a Midwestern high school where ethnicity was nourished and protected, and my life continues to be enriched by the diversity of humanity.
Wow, Amy! Another thoughtful story from you aimed at mutual understanding. Love it!
Thanks, Gisela. “Mutual understanding” was the goal. Glad you saw it that way.