Black History Month is like medicine; it’s good for you, but I’m not keen on taking it. So I’m over it. For many reasons. Here’s a few.
1. Black History Month has been thoroughly streamlined.
In its current position, Black History Month is diluted because it’s streamlined. Picture a factory assembly line; massive machines putting parts together with little finesse, thought, or craftsmanship. That’s exactly what Black History Month is, in its current state. A little MLK here, a little Harriet Tubman there. It’s no longer nurtured through anecdotal storytelling redolent of Black survival. It’s no longer a means of historical, familial connection. Instead, it’s awkwardly conjoined together with little consideration because it’s easier that way.
In school, during Black history month, an assortment of teachers would reach into the storage closet where the classroom materials were kept, dust off the *same* picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hang it above the blackboard, read a book about either slavery or the Civil Rights Movement, and then carry on with the predetermined lesson plan. If my teacher was a little more thoughtful, maybe there’d be a discussion about race, but the dialogue was always confined to the past. There was little, if any, relationship to the present, and absolutely no linkage to the future.
I’d imagine that this routine is repeated across many American public school classrooms. The way mainstream American society approaches Black History Month, especially to youth, is frightening. Without any depth, insight, or innovation, Black History Month mutates to Buckley’s.
“A BHM where kids don’t learn about the same 5 negros for the 8th consecutive year. I have a dream.” #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool
— Kim Faire (@JustKim28333) February 2, 2015
2. There’s very little emphasis on Black women and queer identity. Throughout the centuries, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of Black leaders who fought for Black liberation. However, we only hear those parts of the story that reinforce heteronormative patriarchy. Very little is done to uplift fearless Black women. Ever fewer is done to uplift Black individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. I was introduced to Maria Stewart during the Freedom Ride to Ferguson in September 2014. After 13 years in the public school system—4 of which were spent at an esteemed NYC specialized high school—and 4 years of private college education that left me financially disfigured, with the help of Black comrades, I was introduced to the Mother of Feminism. Ok. And let’s not get started on how Bayard Rustin is historically slighted.
— Young Negro (@JayJewels93) February 1, 2015
3. I exalt my ancestors through my actions, not just commemoration.
Don’t get me twisted; I respect and honor my Black ancestors and happily commemorate their memories. But I do so not only through honorable showcasing and public displays of affection, but through my daily actions. I cultivate the strength of my forefathers and foremothers when I’m protesting in the streets. I generate their images and spirits when I write. I make sure their legacies are uphold with the music I choose to listen to, and the artists I choose to support.
My Black legacy deserves more than 28 days, and I see to it that its given the ample consideration it deserves.
4. I prefer to look to the future as a blueprint from the past.
I’m over Black History Month in the way it’s currently formatted. But I’m enthusiastic about Black Futures Month, an initiative meant to redirect the narrative to one that is future focused. Black Futures Month seeks to correct the shortcomings and flaws of Black History Month through sincere and unabridged dialogue and actions meant to inspire this new wake of Black liberation.
So this month, I’m paying *special and particular* attention to have my history can potentially affect my future. I am paying *special and particular* attention to how my ancestral past is shaping my current commitment to my freedom.
Suggested reading: “Black Future Month: Examining The Current State Of Black Lives and Envisioning Where We Go From Here.” Opal Tometi. The Huffington Post.