Saturday, February 14, 2009

Majority Rules

(Frederick Douglass courtesy

By now, we're squarely in the middle of Black History Month. It's pretty much impossible not to know that it's Black History Month because everywhere you look, this fact is pressed upon us. We've got commercials featuring famous Black people and famous events in African-American history. We're reminded of monumental struggles in the Civil Rights Movement. Certainly every publication out there has published a dozen articles on how far we've come now that Obama's our president.

Classrooms are adorned with posters of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Frederick Douglass. We learn about the contributions of Black inventors. If George Washington Carver hadn't concocted peanut butter, I'm pretty sure I would have been protein deprived as a child. By far, my favorite thing about this month is the awkward very-special programming on TV all month. Nothing's more educational than an episode of That's So Raven where young Cory learns to appreciate the struggle of his people by favoring a meal of cornbread and collard greens instead of pizza. You may also have noticed that movies featuring actors like Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut have been added to this month's schedules on Lifetime, TBS, and TNT.

(completely gratuitous photo of Taye Diggs looking fine)

Now, there're two ways to look at this month-long celebration. First there are those who say it's bogus to dedicate just one month to Black History. We should be celebrating it all the time, as a part of our history. Calling it out makes it seem less important than say, the European history of America. I totally get that. But at the same time, without Black History Month, I doubt I would have learned about people like W.E.B. Du Bois until I hit college (and even then, I pretty much only was taught his theories in college).

This country was colonized by Western Europeans. And they're still the majority in this country. I get that most textbooks are written from that point of view. But with such an ethnocentric curriculum, we miss out on so much information. All throughout my RPS 205 education, I remember wanting to discuss the chapters at the end of the textbook about non Western history. And about "modern" history, you know the civil rights of various minority groups in America. But we never got to that far.

This is not a unique dilemma. It's the same with every non-majority group. We get a little bit of Women's History with the suffragettes and whatnot. But it wasn't until college that I learned about Native American History, Asian-American History, and to an extent, Latin-American History. And I felt that I had really missed out.

Honestly, the day we stop hyphenating and America accepts its shared history, things will be awesome. But until then maybe we do need to celebrate the unique history of certain groups in America. We just need to make it seem less awkward and forced and start integrating it into our everyday.


Spook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spook said...

Best thing I've read on Black History Month all month, Thank de lawd its the shortest month of the year cause it sho is hard to take and every year it gets harder. Now if you will excuse me, I'm gonna eat some chicken left over from last night

Bitch, please! said...

Aww, thanks Spook! This has been a short, strange month.