Skip to comments.Has Black History Month Outlived Its Usefulness?
Posted on 02/23/2002 9:02:02 AM PST by prman
Not many people know that what is now called Black History Month actually began as "Negro History Week," established by black educator Carter Godwin Woodson and other scholars in 1926 as way to combat the ignorance and deliberate distortion of black history in this country.
In those days, people of African descent were visibly missing from any scholarship or intellectual discourse that dealt with civilization, and were so dehumanized and their history so distorted, even in educated circles, that "slavery, peonage, segregation and lynching" were considered justifiable conditions.
Initially conceived as a weeklong series of meetings, exhibitions, lectures and symposia organized as the culmination of the scientific study of the African experience, it has in the years since the civil rights revolution expanded to the entire month of February. Many think it should even be a yearlong celebration.
Today, however, the question should be asked if the monthlong observance has outlived its usefulness. Or has it become simply divisive and counterproductive?
Black History Month was designed to be educational and informational in nature a way to set the record straight about the achievements and contributions of black people in America. In doing so, it dispelled myths and misconceptions about African-Americans and their culture in a way that would promote racial understanding and healing.
In recent years, everyone seems to have jumped on board this monthlong "observance." Universities, magazines and newspapers, museums, concert halls, radio and television programs virtually all the organs of popular and civic culture have made obeisance to Black History Month in their offerings. One cannot say, then, that not enough attention has been paid to these issues.
The danger is that the month that now celebrates the history of black achievement has not only become just another example of racial tokenism, but, in its worst manifestation, it has turned into a platform for political and ideological propaganda and sheer hucksterism.
Thus colleges and universities lard up their "celebrations" with events that are overtly designed to be politically provocative: lectures about Herrnstein and Murray's controversial 1994 study, "The Bell Curve," and black intelligence; films on female genital mutilation; papers that encourage the use of Black English; non-sequitur discussions on "Race, Gender and Economic Equality"; even student awards for artistic expression that "demonstrates an understanding and appreciation for diversity, equity, social justice and human rights."
Newspapers run multi-part stories that hector readers into feeling guilty about de facto segregation, or report about some incident of local discrimination, or feature puff pieces by marketers that want to cash in by repackaging video and DVD releases of movies and TV shows featuring black artists and subjects.
After having extolled the most prominent and well-known African Americans year after year in their stories, magazines and newspapers are now having to develop articles about black "unknowns," as yet unsung, who are also making contributions to their communities.
As praiseworthy as this idea might seem, it comes perilously close to a manufactured "feel-good" journalism in which everybody gets his or her 15 minutes' turn for fame.
And every February, numerous "studies" appear, usually by unknown and suspect institutions, that serve up astounding headlines like "Few Black Teachers in Nation's Classrooms." Their claims are reported uncritically and unchallenged in the papers as an example of a "lack of diversity" and "the lack of black role models," which need public attention, and that can only be remedied, according to these "experts," by increased education spending by government.
Ironically, the same newspapers that wring their hands about the lack of black role models spend many gallons of printer's ink throughout the year lionizing notables like Snoop Doggy Dog, P. Diddy, Suge Knight and other no-talents in the demimonde pop culture who leech off the disposable income of adolescents.
Regardless of its original good intentions, Black History Month has become in the eyes of many merely a ritualized, "say something nice about African Americans" event that agenda-driven organizations have co-opted for their own purposes, and that media are afraid to let go for fear of appearing not "demographic" enough.
In a society where Martin Luther King Jr. preached the ideals of integration and blindness to color, a month of publicity and propaganda devoted to those of only one hue - by emphasizing the hyphen in "hyphenated American" seems stubbornly contrary to his inclusive vision.
If it's absolutely necessary for the country to have an annual Black History Month as predictable as the spring rains can Hispanic, Lithuanian, Oriental, Italian, Greek and Fill-In-The-Blank History months be far behind?
Barrett Kalellis is a commentator whose columns appear in The Detroit News, NewsMax.com, TownHall.com, National Review Online and other print and online publications.
My point is this. Having a black history month, while excluding every other group, is prejudiced and biased in its own regard. Thus, what should happen is that the real, not fabricated, examples of black history need to be included in the textbooks. Most textbooks, though, do have them included these days. Thus, the idea of black history is a farse, and it needs to come to an outright conclusion.
I work with several black people, and they'll play their R&B stations. I don't get why these radio stations are always acting like they (blacks) are in a struggle, and that they are "keeping the dream alive". My goodness, it's been over thirty years. It is time to lay it to rest. What gets me more than anything, though, is the stations', as well as many "Black History" programs, that feature blacks who talk about how much farther they have to go. This is absurd, for there are many prominent blacks who have made it on their own merit. Thus, the idea that society is racist, or that they are at a disadvantage, simply doesn't mesh, nor make any sense.
Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles?
Oh................you mean it was actually supposed to be "useful"?
Nowadays I have a different attitude. Oh, I'm not racist by any means according to any TRADITIONAL definition of racism. But I am still a very firm opponent of inequity. It is just that the inequity has shifted and now it is white society that bears the brunt of it. There is a very big difference in attempting to balance things out and in trying to turn the tables and turning the tables is what I have seen happening to a greater and greater degree in modern day liberal America. I agree that black history should be a significant part of education in history. So should Confederate history and Native American history. Having Cherokee ancestry as well as a real interest in Native Americans I was very angry when I found I hadn't been told the whole truth. I did, however, have the common sense and the intelligence to seek out the information that was lacking in my education on my own. I also felt no need to sue anybody because I hadn't been taught things I thought I should have been.
Those who would impose black history on everything and rewrite the history of the Confederacy and remove the portraits of the founding fathers from our public institutions in favor of installing pictures of Malcolm X and others like him are at least as guilty of discrimination and rampant racism as the dominant white culture has ever been at any time. It is my opinion that they do not seek equality and an end to racism; they seek domination of the culture in which they now reign as the supreme racists themselves.
LOL! I hope you checked your security system before you posted that!
You said a mouthful there.
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