Hate "Black History Month" too...another view

dustyelbow

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Oct 25, 2005
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Another person who hates "Black History Month" in the community. We should hear all view points on the matter because she is making "Black History" herself.

Erin Aubry Kaplan
Biography

Again she is African-american and on top of that she has some fame and fortune. The seemingly best spokesperson in changing attitudes in our community. Every time I see this "hate for Balck History Month" it always deals with how business handle this month but not how everyday black people incorporate this month for their edification and nothing about how Carter G. Woodson took his time out to serve our community in beleiving in our abilities to contribute to this society and the world at large. He was an inspiration. I dont see no inspiration ( oh I know double negatives, and I am in trouble with grammar police) from her piece. Where were those whites she and others speak of during Carter G. Woodson time and even now ready to fairly display the infinite stories of success and attempts made by our community towards freedom for all Americans. They came out later when enough money can be made off it.

Enough about my views.


Feb. 11, 2006, 7:04PM
SEPARATION ANXIETY
Black History Month and me
A hand-wringer for those who don't see it as a story apart


By ERIN AUBRY KAPLAN


I hate Black History Month. I don't hate black history, just the month: the marketing tool it has become, the reductive and self-congratulatory tone of the "Honoring African-Americans" public-service ads it sets off, the rush toward penance it inspires, as America overcompensates for the rest of the year in which we actively diminish or ignore the concept of black history, much in the way people rush to church or temple on major holidays to revive a faith they don't otherwise keep.

Anybody who knows me knows that I wring my hands over this every February. But because the present course of American history feels so ominous, so freighted with bigger transgressions against democracy and equality that are fast obliterating old-fashioned concerns with black people and their history, this year deserves a special wringing. So here goes.

I hate the separation of stories that has become synonymous with Black History Month, the assumption that black people exist on a different, almost otherworldly plane than everybody else in this country. Certainly in many ways, they have. But Black History Month should be about connecting the dots of American history, not arranging them into neat, monochromatic piles that reinforce a false notion that Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. were admirable creations only of black culture (and not of white oppression or, more broadly, American culture) who resonate just in black circles.

Of course, America is obsessed with cultural niches of all kinds, and Black History Month is no exception. But there's something deeper at work, some stake that whites (and some blacks) have always had in keeping their narrative apart from that of black people.

Public-service ads notwithstanding, white people don't want the taint of all the negativity that blacks have come to represent in the popular but unarticulated imagination, from slavery to street gangs. Whites, and many blacks, resent the pall that the black struggle has always cast over the shining American myth of equality and individualism.

I get the feeling that whites simply don't want to be involved or implicated in black issues, so each year they magnanimously hand us our history and say, "Here you go! It's yours, you're free to do with it what you want." I can almost hear the murmurs of relief among the television programmers and corporate community-relations execs as they prepare their perennial tributes: Thank God it's their history, not mine.

One hypocrisy is that Black History Month routinely ennobles the fight against slavery, when most of the time, Americans practically laugh any debate of it out of any room. What, that old saw? We sneer at the notion of black reparations, not because it's so outrageous but because it dares to invoke the possibility that some 250 years of slavery, 100 years of legal segregation and 50 years of something we still can't quite categorize just might have some bearing on the unqualified mess blacks are in today.

As everyone surely knows, blacks are entrenched on the wrong side of just about any troubling statistic you can think of — high school graduation, incarceration, unemployment. At a recent screening of the documentary film The Boys of Baraka, which follows the lives of a group of black middle-school students in Baltimore, I was shocked to be reminded of what an unlivable city that is for so many black people; a bleak, almost cartoonish landscape bereft of any signs of economic life save the drug deals going down on every other corner. I like to think of a place like that as far away, literally and figuratively. But a report on blacks in Los Angeles, issued last year by United Way, found that the city, traditionally a place where people come to remake their fortunes, is in many ways no different from Baltimore.

That such conditions continue to exist, unchanged, is one question we should be raising during Black History Month. But we never do. The problem is that black history is ongoing and unresolved. Although it's had bright spots of relative success, it's not pretty. It still demands accountability at a time when accountability is almost permanently out of fashion, and blackness itself is being subsumed by the rise of other ethnic groups and new paradigms such as multiculturalism and multiracialism.

A good friend of mine says that blacks are on the wrong side of U.S. history and always have been. As a black person, I'm resolved to that fact, but as an American, I'm equally resolved to change it. Guess it's a hate-love relationship. Happy Valentine's Day.

Kaplan is a journalist and writer born and raised in Los Angeles.
 

dustyelbow

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Oct 25, 2005
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Comparing and contrast, just say it "Black History Month" is...

Another descent person from the community reapeating the same message but a little more subtle. She has fame and fortune, she has a following so what does she say...

Again, I have no problem people not liking something but isnt "black history month" partially about something you like to know about your people, their history... That was the intent of Carter G woodson. He just happen to start something that now is not "good" no more. He never said well they[greater society] wont like this or they[greater society] wont like that, he did what he did out of a need in the community that require our black hands at: Again who said Black History Month is confined to be about history...it is being used to make political moves...it is used to highlight our conditions to the greater society...I know not Carter G Woodson. We still need everything we got plus more.

Well here,




Another view on Black History Month
Sunday, February 22, 2006

Every year, without fail, no matter what newspaper I've worked at, there is coverage of Veteran' Day activities, ranging from feature stories on parades and memorial services to profiles of decorated military personnel. Always prominently displayed are moving photographs of beaming white-haired war veterans, in their beloved military uniforms and hats, their faces saturated with intense pride and passion and, on occasion, such deep emotion that their eyes tear.

It's the one time of year, it seems that it is OK for these old-timers to be war veterans, for people to pay attention to what the vets have to say about their war-time experiences and their steadfast patriotism. But after Veterans Day is over and the uniforms go back in the closet, society seems no longer interested in listening to these vets as closely as it did on the day designated for the observance of them. Suddenly, they have no voice and we push them mentally into obscurity.

That's kind of how it seems to be with Black History Month.

Once a year, media outlets trot out well-known black people in our community -- or lesser known black people who are doing interesting things -- and publicize their great works. Similarly, during the February-long observance of Black History Month, schools teach students about significant black historical -- and modern -- figures, and may even invite a black speaker in or schedule a black performance group. Then, once the monthlong observance has ended, these ``important'' black people go back to their lives, their momentary, almost-celebrity status gone, and topics such as slavery go back on the shelf as part of the ``old days.''

I got to thinking about the relevance of Black History Month following a recent article on the issue in the Kalamazoo Gazette in which black actor Morgan Freeman was quoted as calling the observance ``ridiculous.'' Others in the story said the celebration of African-Americans should not be confined to one month.

Here's the reality: Consider the two examples I gave above about the observance of Veterans Day and Black History Month. After the hoopla of each is over, are most ordinary citizens, without prodding, clamoring for information about veterans and black people? No. Ideally, throughout the year, we should hear about lots of different segments of our community, not just vets and blacks. However, if we need a yearly reminder in the way of a month or day of celebration, so be it.

Just as Veterans Day reminds the nation to not forget the men and women who fought for us to have freedom, so Black History Month seems to serve as a symbolic string around our fingers to remind ourselves to remember the contributions of black people for the betterment of America.

This opinion column was written by Earlene McMichael. She can be reached at 388-2749 or emcmichael@kalamazoogazette.com.
 

dustyelbow

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Oct 25, 2005
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Cool, now a white lady is chopping at the "Black History Month" phenomenon.

I give her credit for mentioning and acknowledging Carter G. Woodson. I am glad she developed an "affinity required" to know about someone of this magnitude and what he was trying to accomplish. Equally I developed an "affinity required" to know that I am black and will have to deal with the consequences of being of a different race. But I gladly accept what lies ahead for better or worse.

But now she is at least have some familiarity, wouldn't it be a waste of time to give anymore thought to the matter. Apparently she doesnt think so and add to the legitimacy that we have problems with "affinity required" to solve. And we both know it doesnt have to be this way.

BTW of you are noticing a pattern, it becoming clear as day.

Has Black History Month lost its relevance?

> Toula Foscolos
toula.foscolos@transcontinental.ca

The minute February came around, press releases started coming in from municipal, provincial and federal governments, celebrating Black History Month. For the next 28 days, here’s your chance to celebrate, eat soul food, attend music reviews entitled “Young, gifted and black” and feel all around better about race relations in North America. I just LOVE it when we all get along. Don’t you?

I can’t help but feel that Black History Month has lost its relevance today. Created in 1926, when historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson, launched Negro History Week to bring attention to the contributions of black people in American history, BHM was in direct response to active and institutionalized racism. But today it has become a celebration full of clichés, familiar phrases and two-minute TV spots with Martin Luther King Jr. having “A Dream”. We know what’s coming before it’s even here. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against people celebrating their common heritage and accomplishments. Heaven knows, I’ve been to enough Greek Independence Day parades in my lifetime to know how important it is to take pride in where you come from.

But it seems to me that Black History Month has become more of an opportunity for politicians to be seen doing the “right” thing, than it is about spreading a message. A celebration that was once considered subversive, is now part of the “establishment”. It’s become mainstream; people just go through the motions. As a result, it’s commemorated with bigger budgets, bigger fanfare, extensive media coverage, but it has lost its relevance.

And lest some of you start muttering: “Ok, I can see the picture that accompanies your column; you’re white, so what gives you insight into Black History Month?”, let me just remind you that this is just one humble opinion; but others share it.

Academy award-winning actor Morgan Freeman raised eyebrows, this past December, when he called the concept of Black History Month “ridiculous”, noting that there was no white history month. “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” he asked, during an interview on “60 Minutes”. Journalist Shay Stewart-Bouley wrote that “Black History Month has become a packaged thing, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Once the month is gone, so are the feelings it engendered — the way holiday decorations get tucked away.”

Canadian educator, Lennoxx Farrell, on his website: www.catchdaflava.com. states that BHM is irrelevant today, because it fails to attract those who need it most. “Very few attendees of BHM activities are children of single parents living in public housing. They don’t include youths whose pants are draped below the lower buttocks and upper ankles who are most likely to be unemployed or in trouble with the law.” In short, there’s a message, but it doesn’t reach those it should.

Maybe it shouldn’t be about black or white history; just history that is accurate, honest and inclusive to all. As Gary Younge said, in the England-based The Guardian: “We don’t need more white history; we just need it better told.”
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dustyelbow

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Oct 25, 2005
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Even young people with enormous potential ahead of them are looking at this month as not "trendy" or "popular".

Again Carter G. Woodson did not walk on a red carpet and sat on a throne with the world shouting his name to the ends of the earth at what he try to do. He was rejected by many people even those around him and are "in the community".

This is coming out of Seattle University Washington State. And yes this lady appears to be "African American". Remember college newspapers give you an idea of the thoughts of those who will be taking up proper positions in running this society from an "ivory" tower.


Just another day at Xavier: (left to right) Trisha Ramos '08, Krystal Corbray, Sarah Yohannes '08, and Chantale Dasher '08. (Photo by Anil Kapahi)

Another Point of View: Black History Month is tokenism in its worst form. Black culture goes so far beyond slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.


by Krystal Corbray

February 22, 2006

Despite the fact that February is nationally recognized as Black History Month and schools across the country do their duty in acknowledging it, I’ve begun to wonder what good those 28 days of “awareness” are really doing.

Considering the way black history becomes a focal point in February but gets barely a second glance for the rest of the year, it seems as if this country is simply paying its “dues” to the black community.

By relegating the study of black culture to a single month out of the year, the United States is perpetuating the marginalization of a demographic whose history is intimately and irrevocably linked with the history of this nation.

Even though Seattle University puts on events like the conference by the Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation earlier this month, attendance at these gatherings is sparse and knowledge about them even more so.

“Last school year was the first time in five years that there were actually on-campus events for Black History Month,” said Lloryn Hubbard, co-president of SU’s Black Student Union (BSU). “We need to recognize the fact that it was started with the mission of celebrating our heritage.”

According to John Hopkins, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), when it comes to celebrating heritage months on campus, OMSA is limited by a strict budget and a lack of adequate staffing.

“I would love it if we had [funds] for every heritage month, but we don’t,” Hopkins said, explaining that OMSA works with available resources to honor cultural months. “We’ve teamed up with BSU to put on events like the Rosa Parks talk, the black students’ art exhibit, Umoja Ball and Black History Month Jeopardy.”

Yet, the Rosa Parks talk that took place in the Campion Ballroom on Feb. 9 attracted less than 20 attendees, and though students, including myself, might glance at posters of Martin Luther King Jr. and recognize his importance, we’ve been bombarded with the same, rote history since grade school and it’s almost tiresome.

For me, the problem with Black History Month is that it seems to be nothing more than a checklist of facts to cover: MLK? Check. Civil Rights? Check. Racism is bad? Check. But even worse, those facts are almost always past tense, which gives the impression that the most important aspects of black history have stopped taking place.

In fact, in every U.S. history textbook I’ve ever used, the role of the black community is usually limited to a chapter about civil rights and a paragraph or two referencing slavery or the Harlem Renaissance. This sort of “sidebar history” is insulting – to all Americans.

Yet unsurprisingly, the lack of adequate historical integration has been apparent for some time. In 2002, Assemblyman William Payne helped pass a New Jersey state law that mandates black history in the curriculum. The law also created the Amistad Commission, which outlines lesson plans, trains teachers and hosts educational events – all with the goal of integrating the role of black America into our nation’s textbooks and classrooms.

These steps, while small and short-reaching, are extremely important to our country and its students. As Kathryn Walbert, Ph.D., points out in her article “Beyond Black History Month,” the process of integrating the history of black Americans into curriculum means teaching from their viewpoint and highlighting ongoing contributions to American society.

According to Walbert, re-evaluating the ways we deal with black history in the classroom “shifts the focus of history toward ordinary Americans of various backgrounds...and makes history more relevant and interesting to all students.”

The mere presence of Black History Month speaks loudly of the importance of black Americans in our nation’s past, present and future. Yet, we are continuously shortchanging that recognition by glossing over our history in classrooms and boxing the subject into a single month.

Saheed Adejumobi, Ph.D., a professor for SU’s Global African Studies program, sees this system of cutting and pasting our history as a degradation to the legacy of our nation. “Our country’s history and reality have always been multicultural,” he said. “We need to assemble a history of our nation’s glory as well as its shortcomings.”

To put it bluntly, through biased history curriculum we’re participating in a whole new kind of segregation than the Civil Rights Movement overturned. Black history is more than the horrors of slavery; it’s not only about the triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement and it can’t be summed up in rap music.

Like America, black culture is still creating itself, still changing, re-shaping and influencing our society on a daily basis.

Until we fully recognize that black culture is a part of the United States, just as the United States is a part of black culture – and reflect that reality in our classrooms – Black History Month will remain a meager gesture that barely scratches the surface of who we are as a nation.

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This is getting more interesting by the day.
 

Sefirot

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Mar 12, 2006
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While I understand its intentions, Black history month is a disgrace to me. I don't need some racist backward nation's annual recognition of my contributions that span an eternity. The fact that we no longer collectively realize or acknowledge what it truly means to be Black, the month to recognize or celebrate our heritage is also without an abundance of meaning to even us.

I teach Black History all year long. Every year. If we should be fighting for anything at this point, it should not be for handouts and table scraps. We should devise OUR OWN agendas to insert into our curriculums nation wide. This country exists bc of US, and is so "mighty" bc of US.

Black history month was a step in the right direction, but not the end of the path. We refused to pick up the sword and keep swinging.
 

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