Saturday, March 01, 2008

Black History Month Plus One

Carter G. Woodson began Negro History Week in 1926. in 1976, that week was expanded to Black History Month. of course, these celebrations of Black achievement in america began with noble intentions, but to my way of thinking, something feels wrong about the concept of setting aside a month to celebrate Black achievement in america. considering the fact that Black people have been in what is now called the united states since before there was a united states AND considering the fact that Black people have been contributing members of this society (through forced labor and worse) since before this society existed. the history of Blacks in america is the history of america, as surely as any other group of immigrants who landed on america's shores.

why is there not an asian history month? why is there not a latino history month? my good friend over at Diary of a PhD Student asks the question, "why is there not a white history month?" he goes on to link Black history to the history of all of america.

i purposely waited until after the end of february to write this post, because i think acknowledgement of Black history month was an attempt to pander, to "throw a bone" to the Black community out of a sense of white guilt... thanks, but no thanks! there is no more a need of having a month to ponder Black folks' achievements in america than there is a need to spend a month thinking about arab-americans', jewish americans', irish-americans', italian-americans', or mexican-americans' achievements in america. the history of america is the shared history of all americans. it was as wrong to denigrate the contributions of Black americans as it is to create a false celebration of it. and that is my issue with Black history month, while celebrating the achievements of Blacks in america, it marginalizes those achievements by confining them to the shortest month of the year.

the true history of this country is yet to be written, but there is every hope that it will ultimately contain the contributions of all.

11 comments:

Christopher Chambers said...

It's pandering in a way, yes. I think in the right hands, and presented to the mass of the American public, it is the history of the US. But it's become yet another marketing vehicle at best, a punchline at worst, and we cannot blame white folks for that.

rikyrah said...

Now, this can be categorized under I might be too ' sensitive', but then again...maybe not

Lola Gets said...

Uh, Plez...there are Asian and Latin American history & heritage months recognized by the Feds and local governments. Theyre just not talked about as much as Black History Month.

Now I havent read "Diarys..." post yet (I will), but we dont need a "white history month" as we learn about that all the time. Hell, we live it!

That being said, I also dont like BHM. It is a pacifier, a placebo to make Blacks feel good, albeit for a short time. BHM doesnt help anyone learn anything new, its just an interesting marketing strategy. And we Black folks just eat it up. We should be fighting for a more incliusionary telling of history.

And FYI- February was choosen for Black History Month becuase both Martin Luther King Junior and Frederick Douglass' birthdays fall within it. I think Im one of the only people that knows that, lol.

L

plez... said...

lola,

actually MLK Jr's birthday is on January 15th. and i've never witnessed nor heard about an asian history month program at my job! they must not have told anyone about it.

Lola Gets said...

Ah'm so sorry I wuz wrong, Plez, WRONG!

Nah, the Asian/Latin American months are there, but theyre not shoved down our throats as placebos in leiu of real change like Black History Month is.

:)
Hey, why dont you rally for Asian Heritage month recognition at your job? You could earn cool points that way! lol All the Asians would see you as a kindred spirit, then. (Ok, I know Im going to hell for those comments)

I do have an off-topic question for you Plez, as a Kappa, have you ever heard of the Hellians Club?

L

plez... said...

lola,

i have not heard of the Hellians Club. but now i'm curious... who are they?!?

you're not going to hell for suggesting that i attempt to prop up the asian heritage month (BTW, what month did they get?) ... but i may go to hell for actually doing it! *smile*

Lola Gets said...

The Hellians are a Black social club founded by a line of KAP back in the '30s. I believe it might still be in existence. My grandfather was a founding member. I was going to write about them, but in researching them, I cant find anything (well, I did learn that the Hellians is the name of a white swingers club in DC)! All I have is what my grandfather told me, and we all know that might not be the complete truth, lol. I was just wondering if you, a Kappa, might have heard about it.

L

Westminster 4 said...

The Hellians were founded by Chicago Kappas in the 1930s. The second chapter was chartered in Washington, DC in 1936. Among the charter members in DC was Laurel Wreath laureate Paul Phillips Cooke. The DC chapter is still in operation and does a first-rate Valentines black-tie dinner dance every year. A chapter is also in operation in Baltimore. I'm not sure if the Chicago Hellians are still active.

Lola Gets said...

@Westminster4

Yep, I remember Dr. Cooke! Dr. Cooke was pledged on the same line as my grandfather. My grandparents would have a Sunday brunch after that Valentines day party. Thanks for the update!

L

Westminster 4 said...

My pleasure.

The Sunday brunch is still a part of the weekend.

Who were your grandparents?

Lola Gets said...

Charles & Althea Adams. I wonder who hosts the brunch now?

L