Why I’m Over Black “History” Month

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.

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.

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.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.

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6 responses to “Why I’m Over Black “History” Month

  1. It’s just my opinion, but I believe that “Black history” should be taught as American history and added to the mainstream curriculum. After all, isn’t it history that happened here by Black Americans. The term, “Black history” by its very description is exclusive and implies that someone other than Americans made this history. It should not be relegated to one month per year. It should be required learning and taught throughout the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t the term black history creates exclusivity as much as it calls attention to a systematic silencing. You said yourself that it (black history) is history that happened here but then why is not already present in our school curriculums? Is it not more fitting to say calling it history in general is exclusive because implicit in that description, at least for me is the story of just some more white men.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I simply meant that we should move to have the many contributions of our people taught in schools all year round. Not Just for one month. I believe that it’s not part of the mainstream curriculum because we haven’t pushed for it to be. We have accepted the one month. We are obviously Black People, but we are also Americans. Our ancestors were born, slaved and died in this republic. We physically built this country, and contributed in many other ways that most know nothing about. We have a right and a duty to be called Americans. Our goal should be to compel the school systems to include our history in their teachings every day of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: A new generation of voices takes back Black History Month | Eric Krupke·

  4. Pingback: Re: Why I’m Over Black History Month | The Advocate·

  5. I respect your reasoning. However, there are still thousands of black, white, yellow and brown children who will not hear of Martin Luther King or the Civil Rights movement without black history month. Their teachers will not teach if we don’t require the states to acknowledge it. Adding a few pages in a textbook doesn’t mean it will get covered. So I feel it is needed for the children in schools everywhere. They learn blacks have positively contributed to our society after fighting peacefully for equal rights. It’s not something every child will learn at home. I want the practice to continue so the children will see their teachers dust off that MLK photo and get to teaching how blacks before them sacrificed so that they can live in a better society. It’s too soon to think it’s get done without a requirement.

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