by Gray Graham
We are coming in on the end of another Black History Month. The NBA All-Star Game just ended (the unofficial Black people’s Christmas) and most people have moved on to thinking about Easter and getting their summer beach bodies. Given all the events the past few years, let’s take a look and see what Black History Month means to people today.
For those that care it was not lost that many non-Black people took Black History Month as the time to attack African Americans and Black History in full stride. If you are an older African American then you have lived a lifetime of being attacked for being Black. In the old days racists were free to speak their mind without fear of any type of retribution. They didn’t have to use “woke” instead of just saying nigger (A lot of people will be bothered because I chose to type that word out instead of using the n-word).
For the past few years Black people have been under constant attack from people that are either threatened by our existence or could care less that Black people exist. This Black History Month they decided to kick it up a level and attack the concept of teaching Black History at all. States across the nation are taking up initiatives to remove the teaching of anything related to Black History especially anything pertaining to slavery. It sounds like something the villain in a movie would do but alas this is reality for Afro Americans. Everything Black people deal with in life is larger than life to white Americans. African Americans actually have to fight against Lex Luthors trying to make the smallest of us completely miserable. Unreal to other groups who believe it or not often join in on the attacks.
In the shadow of the hatred Black people are going through right now how are we feeling about Black History Month. Today it seems as if Afro Americans have a few different ideas when it comes to Black History Month that are as diverse as Black Americans themselves. These are just some of what I have been able to gather from talk with my people.
First, there are those Black people that look at Black History Month as a celebration of the African Diaspora so they celebrate the accomplishments of Africans across the world. It usually centers around the first Black person to do something that white people had been doing for centuries. There are the exceptions of a Black person that did something to become wealthy. There is also the rarer African that did something ground-breaking before anyone else. The purpose of Black History for this group is to prove that Black people have contributed just as much as white people to American society and therefore should be accepted and respected by the white American majority. There is a sense of pride that comes from telling the history of Black History Month and why it is important today.
Another way Black History Month is celebrated is as African American Heritage Month. Instead of focusing on the first Black person to do something, they focus on African American culture. For them history denotes something in the past while heritage, the term that other ethic groups use for their months, denotes a culture that continues today as well as acknowledging your ancestors that created that culture. It focuses on the unique African American experience of the descendants of freed African slaves and their struggles with trying to survive in a racist American society. Instead of looking at African Americans through the eyes of white supremacy where every Black person is the same, they focus on just the African American experience. There are also Black people that celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month for example because there are Africans in those cultures also.
Last and of course least there are Black people that do not acknowledge nor care about Black History Month at all. This group comes in basically three flavors all of them bitter and sour. The first are those Black people that are just apathetic. They have been abused for generations and it shows in everything that they do. They are at the point where they just don’t care about anything beyond what their basic desires are. Far too many African Americans fall into this group because they are the ones that have been left behind by everyone in our society, which sadly includes successful African Americans.
The next group is the one we will loving call the Revolution. To acknowledge Black History Month would be to acknowledge defeat and they will never accept that. They reject anything that is done by the “white man”. They believe that Black History Month is just a patronizing endeavor and they want nothing to do with it. Regardless of whether African Americans celebrate Black History Month or not I would say a large group of Black people feel this way. Dealing with evil every single day of your life is impossibly hard and it has made a lot of Black people bitter and angry. One does get tired of fighting after awhile.
The last group is the group that Black people just can’t stand. There are many names used to identify them but we will take the high road and not use them here. They are the dark skin people that actively campaign against Black History Month and pretty much anything concerning African American culture. They are the ones that white supremacists love putting front and center at any event where they are attacking Black people. There is nothing a racist loves more than using a dark skin person as a weapon against Black people. Many dark skin people have found out it pays very well to be that black weapon for racist white people. In many cases it pays more than they could imagine or make another way. I doubt most of them believe anything that they say but who knows maybe some of them believe that white people are superior to other humans and should be worshiped.
I almost forgot the self centered group so we will call them the honorable mentioned. They don’t care about Black History Month because they only care about themselves. As long as everything is okay in their world then everything is fine. You will probably never see them express a view about being Black or anything to do with Black culture. They make sure that they do everything to fit into white American society to succeed in life. Many will go out of their way to never associate with other Black people. As long as their money is right and they have funds coming in then they can’t be bother with Black History Month or Black culture. It has to be a very empty experience but I guess it works for them.
So does anyone know the true meaning of Black History Month? It would take a series of books to delve into what it means to be African American. In this article I have used the terms Black, African, Afro American, and African American interchangeable because in America for most people they are the same thing when in fact they many completely different things. The life experiences of Black people around the world are not all the same. No one would think I was talking about the same people if I used the terms Irish, Jewish, Polish, and Italian.
For me that pretty much sums up the meaning of Black History Month. I guess a lost culture can never be recovered. Some wounds will never heal especially when they are constantly be reopened and you are getting new ones, yet my Black people still rise, strive, and thrive.
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