Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Are We Learning During Black History Month?

Fred Shuttlesworth,(1922-2011), was the pastor of the Birmingham, Alabama First Baptist Church who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956 and also helped head the movement to integrate Birmingham's schools, offices, and public facilities. This was my latest facebook status as I had declared to not only educate myself and family but all of my facebook world on the great African Americans in history throughout the month. I would highlight many of the achievements and accomplishments of African Americans throughout these glorious 28 days while we as a people celebrated our heritage and African pride.

And then, what? What happens when those 15 minutes of fame are up? Will we as a nation continue to strive and educate ourselves on the great discoveries, oppressions, and injustices of our people or will our interest wane as we prepare for the next more interesting cause or holiday? Probably the latter. I haven't posted a facebook black history status in 10 days, not that I haven't been gathering information, but simply because I had not had the "time." Why, there's the problem. We simply don't have "time" or so we think.

We seem to treat black history month as a distant passer-by rather than a crucial innate part of our own being. We tend to forget the arduous labor that black people had to suffer just to merely exist in society. We forget the sweat, the blood, and tears that they shed and are still shedding which we seemingly take for granted by our everyday nonchalance. Maybe if we didn't, we would take health more seriously, education more seriously, life more seriously.

And just what exctly does black history month teach our children? I've learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks probably every year since kindergarten. Not that they were not astounding individuals and were blessed to have overcome such obstacles, but who else is there? What else is there? What are they learning not through the textbook but through our everyday behaviors and interactions with others. Look at black and white relationships today. Are some closer? Are we farther apart? Why? Are we bringing forth a positive image of African Americans and an understanding of our culture and heritage? We should really sit and ponder these questions and examine what we may be teaching the future generations, black and white.

Black History Month should not just be a month where you can find a surplus of movies on tv, co-starring or casting a host of African Americans actors and actresses. It shouldn't just be a month where we finally display an array of African American books on tables and classrooms shelves. It shouldn't just be this month where discussions are open and welcome. It should be an integrated, continued part of our lifestyles and our living, throughout our days and throughout all of our years. Because Black history is American history and the world wouldn't be the same without it.