In February, we will be celebrating Black History Month. It is a time to reflect and remember how African Americans came out of the “mire and muck” of a time where they weren’t even considered to be human, to now when we finally have doctors, lawyers, judges, Supreme Court judges, congressman, congresswomen, leaders, business leaders, IT executives, and yes, now finally a President of the United States who happens to be Black. Reading that on the surface, any ordinary person would think “this is great”; this is certainly something to celebrate and be encouraged by. This is something people may wisely digest could inevitably help eliminate racism because it offers hope to other people who may be treated unfairly; and with a little bit of change in how we view others, true peace can be achieved. But let us consider something that may be a little controversial. Is Black History Month really a good thing? Does it really help in eliminating racism? Does it really offer a gleam of hope for those who are ill-treated and are the victims of racism themselves? Or could it lead to something completely the opposite? Could the concept of Black History Month be nothing more than the Manchurian poster child for equality? Could it be something hidden? Let us consider a few things:
Morgan Freeman, a four–time Oscar nominee, who finally won an Oscar for his supporting role in the film “Million Dollar Baby”, said that Black History Month is “ridiculous” and that it shouldn’t be relegated to a “month.” Freeman had made this statement in a transcript on Today.com in which he also stated: “Black history is American history.” He also pointed out that the only way to get rid of racism is to stop labeling one another as “black” or “white.” “I’m going to stop calling you a white man,” Freeman said, “and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. (This is coming from a man associated with the Hollywood left.)
Black History month began with a man named Carter G. Woodson, who started the recognition of blacks in American history with something called Negro History Week in 1926. It became known as Black History Month in 1976 and took up the entire month of February; and it has become quite a phenomenon here in the United States since. With that said, some serious questions need to be asked about the state of Black History Month and about how the subject is being taught in our schools and proclaimed in our public libraries and bookstores. Has anyone ever noticed a collage of the many black faces that grace the walls in our libraries and public schools during this time of the month? Has anyone taken a look at the book shelves in the libraries and bookstores and glanced the required reading? What faces do you see? What books are you noticing?
Does anyone see pictures of Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Georg Washington Carver, along with many more such men and women like them? If you do, that is fantastic! Hopefully, faces like them will forever be enshrined into the posters and bookshelves representing Black History Month. However, are there also pictures of Malcolm X? Are there pictures of Spike Lee? God forbid pictures of the heavily racist Louis Farrakhan? Has anyone ever seen pictures of W.E.B Dubois, one of the founders of the NAACP and self-acknowledged Communist and hater of America? If you have seen these faces on Black History posters, as I have on occasion, there is reason to be concerned. Seriously concerned and downright angered. Not a hate-filled anger, but a righteous, indignant anger towards injustice.
Would it be right for an African American to be angered towards a Caucasian pastor, for instance, who happened to have as a guest speaker at his church a guy who’s been known throughout the country to use racial bigotry in his messages? Of course, they should be filled with rage, as I would expect them to. Since we are all created equal, and since equality, justice, and fair treatment was something African Americans of old fought so hard to achieve – which is what Black History month is also about — then what comes with freedom and equality is the freedom and equality to also be wrong and mislead. What comes with equality is the ability to be able to accept equal treatment on being labeled biased and for being accused of being irresponsible. You see, when one notices the faces of the African American men I mentioned above, not of the former but of the latter, plastered on posters in libraries and in schools, there should be a righteous indignation and a “calling out” of what is displayed for our children to see. The Blacks, as well as Whites, Asians, Hispanics, etc, need to be honored in American histories that have enriched our culture. The bigoted ones, on the other hand, need to be called out.
Photo credit: Toban Black (Creative Commons)