Not gonna get super political around here, but I frequently see comments like “Why do we celebrate Black History Month and not Japanese or (insert country here) month? Doesn’t this stuff divide our country even more?”
It’s not something I’m proud of, but I used to be one of them.
First of all, May is Asian/Pacific Heritage Month. Irish-American Heritage is in March. So false premise already, but let’s continue.
Start by asking, “Why don’t we have Ethiopian History Month or Congo History month, or celebrate holidays and events from African cultures? People from those countries helped build America as much (if not more) as any other.”
Because the Black/African peoples were stripped of their national heritage, identity, culture, and traditions, even their humanity, when they arrived. We (meaning American slavers and slave owners) took everything from them. When they were freed, they had nothing, we gave them nothing back. No families, no culture or community to gain strength and fellowship from. They could only belong to one group, based on the one thing that slavery’s couldn’t take away, and was even the thing we used to define and denigrate them, their skin color.
We can’t just say “Be Americans, isn’t that enough?” No, it’s not. This country was built on and with people and cultures from all over the world. Except African. Except Black people.
Black History Month is part of an effort to give that culture and history and belonging back. Their holidays and accomplishments and culture deserve to be celebrated and incorporated into our own American culture just as much as everyone else’s, probably more because so much was taken from them. If you don’t want other cultures celebrated, don’t recognize St. Patrick’s Day, or Halloween, or Cinco de Mayo, do anything that recognizes Japanese or Chinese New Year, anything that involved Fireworks, or any other events that came to us from other cultures. If you do celebrate those and continue to complain about recognizing Black Culture, then you need to take a look inward and figure out why. Spend some time learning about Black history, join in the celebrations, and try and move yourself closer to the people who had everything taken from them, not make them move toward you.
We cut them out in the past. Unless we make black culture and history as much a part of America as everyone else’s, they will continue to be separated. Black culture is already in America, it’s up to us to educate ourselves about it. If we don’t, we (white people) are the ones creating separation and division by not being educated about our countries past. Slavery isn’t our fault, but it is our responsibility.
Thank you for making it though this. Typed on mobile, so please forgive any typos.
Change starts with me. I am ignorant in a lot of areas. It’s something I can improve on. I WILL improve on.