Does Anyone Care About Black History Month?


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Jaylin Paschal, Editor-in-Chief

February comes and goes so quickly. With Groundhog’s Day, President’s Day, and Valentine’s Day, it seems like we’re always observing something. Looming over all twenty-eight days is Black History Month. It’s not a commercial holiday. It’s not constantly covered by the media. It doesn’t get us out of school. It is the month of the year set aside, or supposedly set aside, for celebrating black people and black accomplishments.

In elementary school, we all had to sit down and watch a cartoon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. battle racism and stress the importance of tolerance. Every year, one month a year, usually one day of that month, teachers committed themselves to a pathetic let’s-get-this-over-with version of a Black History Month observation. Teachers didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, didn’t want to spark any conversations on race relations, and didn’t want to branch out beyond the civil rights movement.

Throughout middle school and into high school, the same remained to be true. Black History Month is brushed under the rug as quickly and quietly as possible. I don’t recall a single instance of a teacher mentioning Black History Month to the class. The only thing that’s ever done is a quick rambling of random facts over the intercom during announcements that are as difficult to hear as they are to put in context. Recently, that’s only been done when a black student has asked administration why there’s been no observation of the month.

The truth is, no one cares about Black History Month. It is acknowledged, if ever acknowledged, only to be politically correct. It is observed, if ever observed, only to silence the black people who desire its recognition.

Some who don’t care about the month see it as racist. “Well, there’s no white history month. That’s not fair.” However, those people fail to realize that European history is the main focus of the World History classes, and also fail to realize that the American History textbook is already filled with the history of Caucasian people or people of European descent, where that of black people is limited to a couple of chapters: slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. It can be argued that “white history” is taught year round, examining the highlights and lowlights of a people. Those who see Black History Month as racist fail to realize that in school, I have only ever learned about people who look like me in terms of their oppression. (There may be whispers here and there about the Harlem Renaissance, but it’s rare.)

Others who choose not to care about Black History Month often claim that it perpetuates racism by forcing us to acknowledge our differences. These people fail to realize that without the acknowledgement, and celebration, of differences America could not exist as the country it is today. Deemed “The Melting Pot” because of its many cultural influences, America should display appreciation for every single aspect that has blended together to create and influence American society and values. As Americans it only makes sense that we take the time to learn and understand the history of everyone who has lived here and helped build the nation. “Black history,” like the history of any minority in the country, is indisputably American History, just more specified and closely examined. And this does not just exist for black people, as there is a national Hispanic Heritage Month, an Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, etc.

Furthermore, those who would rather ignore our differences, in race and otherwise, fail to realize that it is that lack of understanding, and lack of willingness or desire to understand, that is in fact what perpetuates racism. Little hate is built upon knowledge. It is ignorance and misunderstanding at the foundation of hatred. Choosing to ignore differences – to be “color blind”- is choosing to be ignorant. Ignoring differences in an attempt to eradicate racism is devastatingly counterproductive.

The worst reason why people don’t care is because people just don’t care. As I mentioned before, a slew of thrown together facts out of context are not very effective. Information, especially history, needs to be taught in a way that gets the student to understand what is being said not only in relation to themselves, but in relation to humanity as a whole. Few teachers have dedicated lessons to black history, and the vast majority has not and will not. Understanding through knowledge of culture and history is essential, and takes time and commitment from our teachers. One sentence announcements won’t cut it.

Editor-in-Chief Jaylin Paschal and News and Entertainment Editor Enzo Libertini switched things up this week, by writing each other’s columns. While Enzo tried his hand at What Would Jaylin (or Enzo) Do?, Jaylin gave Does Anybody Really Care? a try.