JOHNSON: Honor past, present black achievements
February 27, 2017
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While an honorary month celebrating our nation’s most prominent and innovative black leaders, abolitionists, educators is supposed to feel empowering and riveting, I would like the flaring horns and balloons to stop for just one second.
This isn’t a demand for an already underappreciated month to retreat further into the backs of people’s minds, but an ode for it to come forth and stay a little while longer.
In an ideal world, Black History Month wouldn’t be necessary and instead the acknowledgment of powerful black leaders and figures would be year round.
The concept of Black History Month would be ludicrous, because people already appreciate all the phenomenal innovations African-Americans have brought.
When you’re as young as kindergarten and naivety is at its peak, you’re taught the framework behind influential black beings such as MLK and, in some schools, Harriet Tubman.
As you transition to secondary education, flounderings of black history are almost half-heartedly thrown in, in an attempt to fulfill the already ebbing presence of black prominence in American education.
Suddenly you’re graduating and hooray, you’re suddenly free of having to sit through lectures praising black leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X!
No more pretending to care about black figures who weren’t as recognized and forcing a smile when Black Student Union makes it their mission to educate both the ignorant and the curious. What a relief; can I get an “amen”?
Don’t mistake my sarcasm for bitterness, but take it for factual proof that there is a problem here.
BHM is rarely acknowledged by young adults and beyond who no longer have to sit through forced talk of black heroes and excellence in school, but yet a select few still have time to complain about the month’s existence at all.
For just one short month, we honor black figures. If that isn’t a slap in the face, I don’t know what is. Literally the shortest month in a calendar year is set aside to barely teach about black excellence.
While we’re here and tethered to the “standard” high school education, let’s make more of an effort to educate the uneducated: the painfully ignorant. Let’s bypass the mediocre standard curriculum of MLK and Abraham Lincoln, whose iconic history is an essential part of our nation, but has been beaten into us each and every year starting from the age of seven.
These are important figures – don’t get me wrong here – but I wish to dig deeper into black history for my sake the sake of my peers. I wish to uncover the secret gems, the unacknowledged figures whose lack of prominence is mistaken for nothingness. Why keep focusing on the same people throughout our schooling? We could easily delve deeper into rich African-American history.
Let’s learn about figures such as Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn: three black mathematicians who assisted and played a critical role in NASA’s space-race – which we won.
That’s right. Three black women playing a key role in beating the Russians to the moon. This should get the Nationalists fired up about African-American figures beyond MLK and Abraham Lincoln.
Let’s learn about Ida B. Wells: a black journalist and activist who made it her mission to stop oppression and who is a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Let’s break from this preconceived notion that BHM’s only purpose is to highlight our rich past and instead ring in the future, for our black innovators of our current nation are just as important as the ones who shaped it for us.
While Carter G. Woodson, the man behind the integration of BHM into our society, would be honored that his initial “Negro History Week” has morphed into a month long celebration, the acknowledgment of Black history for a mere 28 out of the 365 days in a year is a slap in the face.
Our future is bright and full of black innovators and entrepreneurs. BHM shouldn’t be oriented to the past, but rather a blend of historic leaders, current innovators and future leaders.
If you take offense to my blatant accusations of a lack of interest in Black history in this supposedly unified establishment, visit RHS’ very own first ever Black Student Union.
Designed to educate and welcoming to any color, age or sexual orientation.
Our goal is to educate the ignorant and strengthen inward bonds in a safe community. If you are revolted by RHS’ recent act of racism on one of our walls being marked by the poignant acronym ‘KKK’ and the infamous swastika during the month where black people are supposed to be celebrated, visit BSU.
I would love to see you there.