{A Somewhat Long Post…You’ve been warned…}

  Black-History-Month

“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
― W.E.B. Du Bois

To some, Black History Month always talks about the same thing—great heroes, adversity that people overcame, challenges that changed a nation, and a standing up for what you believe in.

People even have argued that there is no need for a Black History Month, as we are past all these things, and slavery is in the past….

You know what I’m going to say:

Black History Month IS Important!

It’s not just the stories that are shared during month that has us think, and thank those who walked before us, it is important because it’s the story of America.

Here’s the [sad] truth, the creation of Black History Month was supposed to highlight the importance of African-American contribution to this country, and to eventually have those stories included in the story of America.

This is where we (as a nation) failed.

Black History Month was not supposed to be here for a month to just give importance to people of color (like October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and April is Asian Appreciation Month), but the creation of Black History Month came about because our stories are not being told in history classes.

America is a great country, that I do no doubt, but just like you can’t put duct tape on a broken fender and call it fixed, we can’t say that things are okay, just because there is a Black History Month.

What we should be doing is fighting for the inclusion of all people’s stories in history classes and stop the rose-colored glasses view of history.

There, I said it!

We need to start to tell the true story of America, and share how far we’ve come as a nation together in our children’s classrooms.

We need to stop being shy (actually embarrassed) about slavery, and tell the true horrors of it. We need to really talk about the institution of slavery and how it still affects people today.

We need to be honest about the “forefathers” and stop making them out to be untouchable. They were people too!

For example… Did you know that even though Thomas Jefferson wrote many articles about slavery and people of color (Notes on the State of Virginia), he was the only person who signed the Declaration of Independence who did not free his slaves on his death-bed? That’s right! Everyone else who signed, did!

Until those who write the history books include everyone of all backgrounds in it’s pages, Black History Month is here to stay and it will remain important.

While it’s a month we use to focus on the accomplishments, trials and tribulations that people have gone through, I believe it should be the first stepping ground in trying to understand another persons’ history and culture.  Also, to learn how the past actions and decisions of this country still impacts the present.

Yes, slavery is over, but the institutions that has kept the powers the same is not.

 

Simple things we can do to break the divide: 

 

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
― W.E.B. Du Bois

Everything starts at home. If you are uncomfortable talking about race and color, your children will be too!  They pick up on everything that we do, say, and even some things that we don’t say.

1.  The first step is take a look at your library at home. Do you have any children books that feature stories from all different backgrounds? No, well its time you start investing in them!

2.  Do you go to the park?  Does everyone look the same?  Why not take them to a park outside your neighborhood and mingle in a more mixed area.  Your kids will make friends easily!

3.  As your children gets older, you can start reading age appropriate books about history.  Not only the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (which is always a great start) but other heroes that aren’t usually talked about that are within your child’s interest.

4.  If your child goes to school, help fill in the gaps! It’s scary to supplement what school is teaching, but make no mistake, it’s the best thing to do for children, especially children who do not see themselves in the pages of the books!  This not only helps with broadening a child’s world, but also helps with reading comprehension! (A win-win in my book)

5.  Read more and educate yourself about history of people of color in this country, so that you are prepared to answer questions from your children. Or, just so that you understand where people who are different from you are coming from.

Black history alone brings up a host of different feelings in different people.  Some express anger, while others are dismissive of the whole experience.  No matter how you personally feel, it doesn’t change what has happened in history.  Let’s stop the anger, and dismissive behavior and have a real conversation about a tough topic.

This list is not an end all, but it’s a great way to start things moving in the right direction.

Let’s use this month to spread the word to close the divide.

My favorite books to start people off on this is:

  • W.E.B. Du Bois — The Souls of Black Folk
  • Michelle Alexander — The New Jim Crow

 

I guess this is the beginning of my black history series in Blogging While Nursing…