By Kelli Green
Last year actor and Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash said that America should get rid of Black History Month. She then attacked BET (Black Entertainment Television), basically stating that race-specific organizations and observations do nothing but help further segregation. She isn’t the first and she won’t be the last to make these arguments.
The thing that I find the most irritating about this argument is the fact that it misses the whole point of Black History Month. Black History Month isn’t supposed to be some obscure homogenous celebration where black Americans secretly share Negro League Baseball trading cards. Black History is American history, and it should be treated as so.
This means everyone should be taking part in the celebration and recognition of historical events and achievements of black people. I remember hearing non-black students in high school grumble about participating in a Black History project or presentation because they weren’t black themselves.
Every year in grade school we went over the same core people: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and maybe Harriet Tubman. They were amazing leaders and they should be celebrated, but that’s certainly not where the celebration should stop. Learning about the same few people every year and learning the bare minimum about slavery and this country’s history simply isn’t enough.
If you were to go only by what you learned in your grade school history textbooks you could not be blamed for making the assumption that Black History began with the Civil Rights Movement. It’s almost presented in a way that suggests our accomplishments lived and died in the palm of Martin Luther King Jr.’s hand, and prior to that, black people had never contributed anything significant to American society.
You could try and argue that if Black History Month was no longer a thing, then we would just celebrate all history together, and everything would work out how it’s supposed to. That sounds fantastic, but how can we believe that when it’s not taught thoroughly during a whole month dedicated to it?
As for Ms. Dash’s comments, and those of others like her, that channels like BET promote segregation, they are frankly ridiculous. You don’t have to be an expert in history to understand that channels like BET, or black magazines such as Jet and Ebony were created out of necessity. The same goes for Historically Black College Universities, such as Florida A&M, which were founded so black students would be able to go to college.
When I was in elementary school, we learned about how important Thomas Edison’s inventions were to the modern world. Meanwhile, George Washington Carver’s numerous contributions to the scientific and agricultural world, including several inventions, are often glazed over so recklessly that many people think his claim to fame was creating peanut butter.
Our country is consistently getting better with including diversity, but we still aren’t where we should be. There are still plenty of issues when it comes to representation for blacks and all minorities.By neglecting to teach large parts of “Black History,” you end up neglecting to teach American history.