Dear Ms Dash,
You recently brought up the idea that we should “get rid of Black History Month” and all other exclusively Black institutions. You’ve been receiving backlash on social media and television for your statements. When I first saw your interview on Fox I thought to myself, I can understand your point. I mean, how can we ask for integration and equality in all areas while simultaneously segregating our own TV stations, awards, months, etc. In a perfect world, where all men and women are truly treated as equal, this argument would make complete sense. Unfortunately we don’t live in that kind of world or that kind of country.
Let’s start with the obvious and one of the most important reasons we need Black history month – our schools. The history books are created to stroke the white children’s ego. Painting a picture that this country was built by “great white heros” like Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and so on. Most of the history taught to our children leads our Black children to assume our history started with slavery, Lincoln “saved us”, Martin and Malcolm got us out of segregation and we lived happily ever after. I’m not going to go into a history lesson here but you can understand, that in a system where our countless contributions to this nation’s growth are either ignored or given to someone else, there is a need to educate ourselves and our children in some other way.
The question we find being asked today is whether or not Black History Month is still relevant? Does it serve a purpose? Or is it another one of those things that big corporations exploit in order to increase sales to Blacks? A month when a country that displays its bias for people of color 11 months of the year, let’s us take a break and be “pro-black” without calling us anti-white? Or is it something more meaningful? Should we retire Black History Month because we are no longer expected to sit in the back of the bus or use separate drinking fountains than whites? That is why you, Miss Dash, and others who agree with you say Black History Month should be done away with right? We are “good” now. We have a Black president. We should stop complaining because we can be successful if we work hard. Or should I say we can be successful if we work “harder”. Yes, we can become President of the United States or President of our own corporation but we have to work 10 times harder for it than the average person on “non-color”. These are statistically proven facts. It’s less likely for a Black college graduate to get a job than a white high school drop out. Even with the deck highly stacked against us, we don’t beg or ask for handouts. Like Jay Cole said, “All we want to do is take the chains off”. The chains of slavery are gone—but we are all not yet free. The great diversity within the Black community needs the glue of our past to remind us of how far we have come and also how far there is to go. We are still fighting to be treated as equal citizens. So until we get to a day when our true historical contributions are taught in every text book in this country, we need a Black History Month. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognize our history for the other 11 months of the year. The same as we don’t only buy our kids toys on Christmas. It’s simply a month to specifically recognize our contributions to this nation and to this world.
I would like to suggest that despite our advances as a people in this country in the last 50-60 years, Black History Month is needed now more than ever. The media paints use predominantly as thugs and criminals. Entertainment paints us as misogynists, drug dealers or drug users. Now more than ever we need the world to see who we really are and who, what and where we came from. Black History Month is a small but important beacon that shines light on our true culture. A culture of royalty, invention, perseverance, forgiveness, building and so much more. We are being completely erased from the history books. Even slavery is being removed from many schools historical text. We are becoming a people with no history and a people with no history are destined for extinction.
So please Miss Dash, understand the importance of recognizing what we have accomplished and contributed throughout history. Maybe one day we can get to a point where a Black History Month is no longer needed because Black history has become part of American history but that day hasn’t come yet. So until then we will take our month and continue to honor the people who helped build this country (and world) we live in today.