Is Black History Month due for a major overhaul?

Graphic by Bruna Costa

I have never been a fan of Black History Month. Our history and heritage are portrayed in ways that are more insulting than celebratory.

It’s humiliating that a race of people who have been on this planet for millions of years get one month in the darkest, coldest time of year to celebrate their heritage and culture.

While many African American voices claim to be fighting on the frontlines for racial equality, who negotiated that we have Black History Month in February? You mean there was a Black mouthpiece so desperate for acknowledgement from white society that they were willing to settle for the coldest, shortest month of the year to celebrate the achievements of African Americans?

What annoys me most is our allies in the struggle who chime in on how African Americans were held down and mistreated throughout the one month of February, then are mysteriously silent when March arrives. It’s crickets on anything that mentions African Americans until someone gets shot by a police officer during an election year.

I stopped following Black History because nothing new or historical has been discovered.

Did history stop when Martin Luther King was killed in 1968? While these racialists honor Martin Luther King Jr., if he were alive today, would he be happy with where we are at today? Seeing people disrespect women, get high or shoot someone? James Meredith got shot for wanting to read and write, only for today’s generation to call you a sell-out for being articulate.

This Black History Month, consider tuning out any more mentions of slavery, Jim Crow and boycotts. We are oversaturated with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks memorials. Who do Black people revere, idolize, and emulate today? Say what you want about Donald Trump, but those who support him have something to champion. Who can anyone Black say they want to emulate: Hakeem Jeffries and Ayana Pressley? In our culture, we have holidays and memorials of career criminals who fight and die at the hands of police while ridiculing people who, despite bigotry and hate, get degrees and move from the lies that Black people are forever doomed as second-class citizens, like Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas.

African Americans have done more since the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Many took the challenge of having a dream and started businesses, bought stock and became entrepreneurs and investors. Some have become judges, politicians, and CEOs. You should tell your spokesman to tell the stories of those that made it so they can inspire others to get out of the hood and believe there is more than gangbanging, committing crimes or dying before you are 40.

This year, let’s not recite the same tired tropes of being put down and mistreated, Why not show that, despite the game being rigged, no matter what was done to us, we never submitted to a system that was never designed for us to succeed? Did we rise to the challenge despite all we’ve been through?

Jeffery McNeil is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.

Issues |Civil Rights

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