This month being Black History month (BHM), I feel should contribute my piece towards this annual observance. My views on Black history month are overall quite negative as I have many problems with this annual event, however, I will admit now that the underlying message of Black history month is something I can agree with and respect. Throughout this post, I will attempt to break down the whole concept of Black history month to show the reasons why I generally dislike this annual event.
First off, black history month is not necessarily black history. What I mean by this is that that the impression we get from black history month is that it includes ALL black history when in actuality this is not the case – Black history month is generally also known as Africa-American History. This immediately suggests that the focus of this history is on African-American history but not the entirety of black history. The concept of it is more so on the micro level rather than on a macro level, this is probably because of 2 main reasons: the extreme racism against black people in America ended not too long ago and movements supporting Black history month perpetuate mostly African-American history. My problem with this? Well, if you’re focusing on only one point of “black” history, are you focusing on all the rest of black history? No. Thus, other sections of black history are lost from the picture, so to reiterate what I mentioned before ‘black history month is not necessarily black history’. To further solidify this point, who are the main figures you think of when Black history month? Most likely they are all African Americans e.g. MLK, Rosa Parks, the pattern is beginning to show – there is a complete lack of other black figures or groups in history who do not stem from America e.g. Cleopatra the African Queen, The Moorish who advanced the technologies of Europe, Olaudah Equiano, ‘Africa Times and Orient Review’ the first political journal produced by and for Black people ever published in Britain, the list goes on, yet black history month focuses on only a slither of actual black history.
This leads to my next point of the reasoning that is used to explain why black history month is important; the reasoning for the significance of black history month seems very subjective as there seem to be many different reasons floating around explaining why black history month is relevant, so I’ll just pick out the main reason people use and discuss them. Some say that the purpose for Black history month is to remind us of the struggle and hard times black people (more specifically African-Americans), but this seems ultimately useless if this is reason black history month exists. The reason i believe it is useless is because what good can it bring to the current black community? If the underlying reason for reminding black people of how white people severely oppressed them in the past, is to empower and uplift them then I believe that reason is stupid – reminding the black community of time where a particular group enslaved them and treated them as sub-human would surely only lead to resentment towards that group and prevent further advancement of the community? There is no progress within the community through using this reasoning. However, using points in black history which would trigger definite empowerment, examples such as of the Moors establishing trade and development in Europe and Egypt’s empire (yes the Egyptians were black) – These are the kind of examples which allows the black community to understand that there were times in history in which black people we able to achieve higher power in society, which is relevant in today’s society. Things such as the black panther party are hugely underrated and ignored when it comes to highlighting the practical actions carried out by the black community in the past, the concept of the black panther party is misconceived by many as an anti-white political group, when in actual fact, the party endorsed equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights, they . Imagine if black people used the ideology of Black panther party in today’s society? Think about it (black lives matter movement or black panther party – there’s your clue).
Another point about BLM is that it is just a month, this is probably the most common problem people have with black history month; all the history of black people placed into 1 month, the main problems I have with this is that I find it condescending and impractical. My reasoning for why I believe it to be condescending is because it is basically the Government allocating the black community a time to highlight and discuss our history, well it’s not like we cannot talk about its history at any time of the year but it is the official time for us to do so – I see it as a way to keep the community content and docile, ‘as long as there is a set time for us to talk about our heritage we won’t make a bigger fuss about it after’ this is basically the basis of why BHM exists. You absolutely cannot expect all of a race’s history and heritage to be celebrated and covered in less than month (take note that February is the month with the least days), black history as a whole is just as, if not larger than any other race’s history, all of European history, British history, American history, Indian history etc. Cannot be covered in one measly month. The main way to overcome this is to integrate black history into academics in schools, this is exactly what Selma star David Oyelowo proposed; “Black people are a part of the fabric of this nation. We pride ourselves now on being a multicultural society; it is outmoded and outdated to remove black history from schools because, like I say, it is a very real part of British history and British culture.”, “If it’s part of the history curriculum it certainly would make a world of difference, not only to black children but to all ethnic groups as well.”. In addition, I believe we should incorporate many different races history into the curriculum too, such as different Asian history as there is so much we can gain from different cultures and races past which can be applied and used in today’s society. I could go on a tangent on how this is linked with our white supremacist system but that will only lead to digression.
So overall, BHM fundamentally fails to even address all of black history and the history that it does address are things which don’t really bring progress to the overall community. However, I will agree that that some parts of the examples of history can be used as a deterrent to the same actions being caused again e.g. Tamir rice and Emmet till. There are other better examples that could be perpetuated in BHM which provides empowerment and upliftment for the community. Finally, the month is too goddamn small- making it somewhat patronising and impractical, chunks of black history (and other ethnics history) is being forgotten and lost like George Orwell said: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” , but again I’m not pointing any fingers *sips tea*.