Monday, February 04, 2008

Black History Month

I hate Black History Month. I know; that's an inflammatory thing for a Black person to say, but it's true. I hate it. Why? Because it's so damned artificial and encourages a culture of grievance among Blacks.

Black History Month (BHM) was started by Dr. Carter G. Woodson for the positive and innocuous reason of educating Americans about the contribution of Blacks to this nation. That's great. But as a child I noticed that all I ever learned about Black Americans during BHM was how oppressed they were. In school and on tv everything centered on the Black struggle to overcome. There was very little teaching about Blacks' actual accomplishments except for the obligatory mentioning of George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman, the only Blacks who seemed to do something besides struggle to overcome.

And then, after weeks of being practically force fed stories of struggle and hardship--poof!--it was over. March first came and with it a return to "real" history which didn't include an obsession with Blacks. All during February I learned how evil segregation was but once February was over the school went right back to intellectual segregation. This is why I feel that Black History Month is artificial and encourages Blacks to have a perpetual chip on their shoulders.

If Blacks are full Americans and contributed to the development of this country the same as Whites, then their history should be taught the way it actually happened: as an integral part of American history. There should be no instructional apartheid, with a month for Blacks, another for women, yet another for Hispanics, and so forth. And what children learn about Blacks--and other minorities--should highlight their successes and accomplishments as much as their oppression. Children should be taught, for instance, that most Black families were intact, two parent households even at the height of segregation and racism. Therefore, Whites are not to blame for the current disintergration of the Black family.

Absolving Whites of responsibility for the individual and communal ills of Blacks won't be a popular move. Many Blacks like the sainthood that comes with being perpetual victims of Whites. And a lot of Whites take a masochist delight in doing never ending and totally unnecessary penance for the sins of their ancestors. So intergrating Black history into American history and scrapping Black History Month is sure to meet with strong resistance. But that's the only way to underscore both the progress Blacks have made in modern America and the achievements they made in spite of the racism of the past. The American Dream was and is reachable by Blacks who work for it. Understanding that is what learning Black history should really be about.


JMK said...

I think you've hit on the primary reason BHM is such a terrible idea.

IF the real reason for BHM was to include and integrate more of the many things blacks have contributed to America, all that would have to be done (and SHOULD be done) is to revamp the traditional history curriculum to include more of those contributions. That would be a good thing.

BUT that is NOT the reason we have things like BHM or "women's studies, etc. Such things exist as a "gripe fest" for perceived historical victims and a celebration of that victimology.

There is NOTHING so corrosive, so toxic as celebrating victims or victimology.

The winners write history ("plow the fields," so to speak), while the losers ("victims") are plowed under.

Every group has been BOTH victim and victimizer in their turn.

That is the true history and nature of humans. It is also our natures to magnify the slights against us, while minimizing our own. These sanctioned "gripe fests"only play into the worst in people.

Seane-Anna said...

You're the one who's hit the proverbial nail on the head, JMK. "Gripe fests" and "celebration[s] of...victimology" ARE what minority history months have become. They're a way to inculcate into minorities animosity against America, animosity which liberals then exploit to gain power. They really do "play into the worst in people".

WomanHonorThyself said...

brave post...I have heard some conservatives voice this same platform Seane~!...more power to ya!

JMK said...

There is nothing more toxic than this persistent naval gazing over perceived "past grievances."

It internalizes a warped sense of entitlement to those who "feel agrieved" and a false sense of guilt on the part of those purported to be "the descendants of victimizers."

It's bullshit, plain and simple.

My father's family came over in the midst of the "great potato famine" and most of the males were sent virtually right into "the great war." ("The Civil War" according the the North, and "The War of Yankee Aggression" according to the South)

They fought and died for the freedom of others. It's been noted that appx 80% of the Union Army was comprised of the Irish (many of them immigrants) as anyone with $300 (a princely sum back then) could buy their way out.

In Boston, many freed blacks, who'd done well, did exactly that, just as most others who could did.

Who wouldn't?!

My Dad's father (my paternal grandfather) was a bus dispatcher his entire life. He worked when NYC's bus lines were still private. He couldn't rise above the rank of dispatcher and trained many younger (newer) employees who quickly jumped over him, because, "he didn't have a Mason's ring."

That was the way they kept Catholics "in their place" back then.

As a teen, in the early seventies, I asked my Dad, "Why didn't Grandpa sue?"

My Dad laughed, "Sue? You couldn't sue back then! You'd be asking judges, appointed by the very people who put those rules in place to, in effect, rule against themselves. That wasn't going to happen."

He was right.

But I have absolutely NO grievance for my grandfather's loss. Hell, neither did my Dad, and, of course, he never asked for anything in that vane.

Yes, my grandfather was treated unfairly.

I was not.

I have no right to ask for anything in his name.

The wrong was done to him.

That wrong died with him.

There is no such thing as "an inherited victim's status."

People who feel sorry for themselves lose sight of what THEY owe, what WE ALL OWE - the price of this life is to be productive and in that process expand the prosperity for everyone else.

Great people, high achievers NEVER feel sorry for themselves.

Yankee Doodle said...

It is more sinister even than that.

Such wallowing in victimhood is intended to perpetuate and exacerbate the very problems for which it is proclaimed to be part of the solution, thus guaranteeing the future existence of an issue that has become a source of power and wealth for those who paint it as a fire-breathing dragon, and who claim to be the knights in shining armor riding to our rescue.

Much good was done by seeking to give blacks and women the civil rights to which they are entitled by nature of their God-given humanity, but today's blacks are enslaved by certain elements in the civil rights movement, just as today's women are raped by certain elements in the feminist movement.

The issues that were once matters of principle have become mere questions of politics, doing a great disservice to those who still suffer from bigotry and sexism.

elwoodin said...

Bravo to you. You really have hit on the reason that Black History Month has turned into a bad thing. The Blacks who tout this holiday do as you say, use it not to promote the Black Community, but to bemoan the way that they have been treated and also to bring law suits against whites who had nothing to do with it, except that they had relatives that did in the past.

The Idea of a Black History month in the first place was a good thing, in the education of people on the contributions of the Black person in our society and theirs too. But when it turned into a crying format to cry about how they have been treated instead....that turned a good thing into a NOT SO GOOD thing....

Good post hit it right on the head.


Seane-Anna said...

"The issues that were once matters of principle have become mere questions of politics, doing a great disservice to those who still suffer from bigotry and sexism." Right on, YD!

Velvet Hammer said...

What a lovely name you have.

Powerful post! I do not see how I could add any more to what has already been so eloquently stated. Great comments all around.

Thanks for the visit. :)