An Up-to-date Knee-Jerker’s Guide to Black History Month

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Why, hello there!

You might have been redirected to this post because you’re asking a question about Black History Month (we’ll call it BHM). And when we say “ask a question”, what we really mean is that you are demanding an answer to your question that you don’t really want an answer to; you’re just using said question as way to shut down conversation, going back to your usual life before you were racially aware that you are, in fact, categorized by race. So about once every once a year, you’re forced to ask people questions the start of every February as if you’re the first person to ask something totally original about it. Well, trust us when we say “you’re not,” and double trust us when we say “we deal with this every single February.” 

So, this (year/month/day… insert your own timeframe here), the coalition of Support The Opinionated People (STOP), Inc. have decided that instead of answering your knee-jerk questions with rudeness (because we hear that some of you don’t like to ask Google), we’re going to make a post with the most Frequently Asked Questions about Black History Month, or BHM as we will call it.

Now, you may ask what qualifies me to play Public Relations for “STOP” this year? Well, I would list my credentials, but instead, I rather let my experiences via answering your questions talk for itself. Also, I want to actually get to more important things, so I’ll just write the answers in short form.

Here we go!

Why do we have Black History Month?

It’s a celebration of Black History. Here’s a Wikipedia page about it. But if you want a shorter answer than that, it’s a primary function is to celebrate Black American History beyond slavery because Black people in America has made more contributions than that and civil rights.

Why isn’t there a White History Month?

Most people will say “because we don’t need one”, but I want to go into three specific reasons why you don’t need a White History Month.

  1. White is the default race in America. – Robin DiAngelo, author of What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy said “We see race as what people of color have (or are.) If people of color are not present, race is not present. ” What this means is that you will never think of color people until their race is brought up first and foremost. Why do you think there are still “first Black to (fill in activity)” to this day? It’s because White people by default are the standards. So when we talk about American History, it’s mostly filled with White Americans already doing things that “makes America great”. Matter of fact, it’s redundant to say “White-Americans” because Whiteness was created originally to keep Black-Americans from voting, among things
  2. Black is a multi-cultured ethnicity mixed by force, while White people are mixed for reason. – Black people, like White people, can be multidimensional in their representation. However, when it comes to “looks”, they are sadly “mixed down” and thus, erasing their individuality. On the other hand, Whiteness are allowed to assimilate. To be White is to have certain advantages over Black and Non-Black People of Color (NB PoC) in America.
  3. White history is usually one of the morbid subjects. – If you’re talking about within facets of Whiteness… in other words, when you add ethnicity to it, you will get a rich history of accomplishments and historical facts. Because Blackness and erasure of a person’s individuality based on skin color, it’s tough for society to treat the two separate. However, if someone wants to represent Whiteness as part of their culture instead of their ethnicity, then you also have to accept the dark history of how Whiteness spread. If anything, Whiteness want to eliminate Blackness and NB-PoC.

So, to make a long story short, when people say “because you don’t need one”, it’s probably one of these three reasons.

Why isn’t there a (insert ethnicity/culture) here?

Short answer: There probably is. Long answer: It’s there, just not as promoted as often for various reasons.

  • March – National National Women’s History Month, Irish-American Heritage Month
  • May – Asian Pacific American Heritage, Older Americans Month and Jewish American Heritage Month
  • June – Gay Lesbian Pride Month
  • September – National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
  • October – National Disability Employment Awareness Month and National Italian American Heritage Month
  • November – National American Indian Heritage Month

This is from a quick Google search, thanks to Diversity Central. Also, see the month in italics? That means the majority of the people are… the defaults… except they are more specific. And if there isn’t something you can’t relate to, chances are, there is someone out there trying to make it happen. After all, someone from the underrepresented group must have made a big deal about it to get a month recognized in their favor. Black History Month used to be “Black History Week” after all.

A famous Black person said we don’t need Black History Month and I agree with him/her!

Listen, I love celebrities and outspoken personalities, but not every person out there make it because of their intellect.

Let’s use two Black celebrities – One young (Raven) and one old (Morgan Freeman). As much as I want to go into details, I have done so in the past underneath another blog. Here’s a very brief answer to your question:

You really need to stop listening to exceptional Black people when they say we no longer need “Black History Month” or anything that doesn’t have a racial focus on it. Seriously.

When it comes to Whiteness and what can be deemed as “success”, there are many fine examples. You don’t really need to become “the best” in your field/career because chances are, there are so many “exceptional” people, that it’s pretty much “standard”. However, on the flip side, if you rarely see a Black person somewhere, someplace, you think that they are “exceptional” because they managed to overcome obstacles to be there. But you’re so busy seeing a Black face in a White place that you failed to see how many obstacles they have to go through just to get there! And to illustrate the point… I will bring up the most ordinary, yet high paying job… being a dentist.

Do you know who the first Black dentist is? Robert Tanner Freeman. Why is his last name “Freeman”, you ask? Because his parents were recently former slaves back in those days. You can read about his interesting life and personal history here. But I will get into the nitty-gritty here: trying to get an education for dental work wasn’t exactly easy. He needed connections to get into a college that would accept him and after he gotten his degree, he only managed to have a career for four years before dying of a disease that these days are probably curable. His name would be used to create a Robert T. Freeman Dental Society before it became the National Dental Association. And while there are plenty of Black dentists, they are STILL uncommon… only 2.6% of dentists are Black… a figure that has stayed steady since 1970. And while that article is in 1991… the good news is that it did grow to 6% in 2016. But the population also grew between 1991 and 2016… so guess what? Being a Black dentist is STILL exceptional in the health industry while a White person being a dentist… is pretty ordinary.

And this is just ONE industry! There is a drive to push for diversity, but in order to do that, there is a need for awareness. If only there is a month where Black people can talk about Blackness without defending it during the short time that it is here!

But bringing attention to race will make it more difficult to erase racism!

If you have a toothache, stop talking about and the pain will eventually go away. If you have a disease, don’t bring attention to it and the disease will die on its own. If you stop paying attention to the bank account, it will eventually refill itself and you’ll never be broke.

See where we’re going with this? Just Support The Opinionated People… you know, STOP thinking in this way, please!

The real reason why you don’t want to talk about race is that it makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s a personal issue that I would love to break down for you… but I promised to keep this post brief.

Which all leads to the last question to this guide –

Well, I don’t care what you say, I still feel there shouldn’t be a BHM!

Do the rest of society a favor and just Support the Opinionated People. You know… STOP!

Thank you for reading this Always Up-To-Date Knee Jerker’s Guide to Black History Month! And by up-to-date, we mean, it’s outdated the minute I hit published and don’t really care to update it anymore because no matter what, you will ALWAYS be blind to your internalized racism instead of lowering your blood pressure simply by Supporting the Opinionated People… you know, STOP!

Photo: rawpixel on Unsplash