Happy Black History Month: A celebration of history, culture, heritage

Happy Black History Month!

What an exciting time — the new year with new resolutions and with the start of February, we have Groundhog Day (hopefully one step closer to spring) and Valentine’s Day (if you count it as a holiday).

In the new month, there will be new trends and hopefully not an invasion in Ukraine, however let’s take a step back and think about a significant part of February in the United States.

Black History Month is making its 46th-year debut in the midst of racial and ethnic controversy. Lately, the topic on the table is the potential banning of “Maus” by Art Spiegelman in Tennessee. Though not specific to Black history, it is significant Jewish history regarding the Holocaust and Germany’s role in it.  

The main question that comes up between both cases is: Why is history trying to be erased? 

I ask this question when blatant erasure towards marginalized communities occurs. Through this understanding of erasure, I’m going to focus on the importance of Black History Month and what Black History Month means to me.

Why Black History Month?

Black History Month is a significant month that reflects on the achievements and contributions to U.S. history Black people have made in the United States, as well as the historic struggles and persistent ones that impact the Black community. 

Black History Month, akin to historic months that are dedicated to the amplification of marginalized groups, recognizes that Black people are people — human beings at that. 

The historic months have become topics of controversy where people are basically asking, “What about a white history month?”

I’ve heard questions asked to the extent that white people are now the minority (though the white demographic is declining as there’s a new understanding of a growth of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism in the country).

However, despite this growth of diversity and multiculturalism, there’s still the persistence of discrimination and racism. Also, in relation to discriminatory actions, the controversy of how Black and ethnic history is being taught. 

A major topic is Critical Race Theory and that it shouldn’t be taught in educational institutions. A significant claim about CRT is that it erases “white history” — when did “white history” not form the basic American educational curriculum? White people don’t want their children to know of the “violent past” of the U.S., but will proudly claim Black culture, style and music, or will “support” the Black Lives Matter movement but can’t condone the “violence.” 

Yet, they’re trying to erase the violence of colonial powers in the New World by European (white) colonizers, whether the violence consisted of killing, enslavement. 

I don’t think it’s fair to condemn the people crying out for justice after centuries of continuous discrimination, maltreatment and violence from the people in the position of racial privilege.

Anyway, the fact there are still “controversial” opinions about what history is being taught and the persistence of discrimination and racism, all I can ask is…why wouldn’t there be a Black History Month?

What Black History Month Means to Me

Black History Month, personally means to recount the history in which my ancestors lived including the history my grandparents and my parents lived through. It also means to recount the history I’ve lived through as a Black-American.

The Jim Crow, de Facto/de Jure segregation and the Civil Rights eras weren’t that long ago, and I still hear the stories from my family about these eras. They’re still reflective of the existent segregation and racism in the 2020s (though it’s only been two years into this decade) that have carried on from these previous time periods.

The rapid growth of technology and media, with the intersection with macro- and meta-levels of sociocultural aspects has formed new ways marginalized groups can culturally express themselves, which in turn is allowing them to be seen and heard. It also allowed for the growth of multiculturalism in the U.S. and experiencing new cultures in varying capacities. Something that is very different from the time of my parents and grandparents.

However, there’s complexity to what the construct of race and the term ‘Black’ means as there’s beauty and diversity to people who are Black that paint a rainbow of the world with colors of the beauty of the African diaspora, with some that have a mix of Latin America. Regardless, Black is beautiful and colorful, but I’m still trying to understand what “blackness” means to me. 

Before delving into the major conversations of the POC community, the U.S. needs to be reminded that it’s Black History Month, and that Black-Americans continue to play a crucial role in its growth.

Happy Black History Month!

Disclaimer: I don’t speak for ALL Black/African-Americans. I prefer to refer to myself as Black American as I have no cultural nor national claim to my Nigerian and Sub-Saharan ancestry. Also, I myself benefit from having lighter skin because of predominantly northwestern European and indigenous Mexican blood. There’s a strong diversity and multilateral voice amongst the Black community, and I’m lucky to be one of those voices.