An Uncomplicated Complication of Communicating Black History Month --Moving Forward
“What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”
― Dr. Carter G. Woodson
By Bashon Mann, Provision Advisors
For as long as I can remember, growing up in my parent’s home through the 70s and 80s, and being educated in public schools in the Hudson Valley; I have known full well the importance of Black History Month come February. It wasn’t lost on our Black family the jocular notion of February being the shortest month of the year by association or that significant recognition of Black achievers seemed to only come around specifically for this time period. Much like pulling out lights or decorations for other holidays, this was the set aside time for addressing that which is Black and/or African-American, only to be packed away at the conclusion of the month. We adorned this dismissiveness as a badge of courage -- much as we tolerate the totality and far-reaching tentacles of racism writ-large. Just sorta comes with the Black experience in America. Though for a moment, let’s look at where we are today in 2021. While many of the circumstances of systemic racism continue to exist and thrive in our country, we have also reached a pivotal moment of awareness and bold reckoning. This reckoning, as it were, exists across cultures of entertainment, business, politics, and education -- individuals, regardless of race have found themselves thrust into a wave of recognizing not simply the desire, but the necessity of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the purpose of evolving and moreover -- what is morally and ethically right. And so, in this vein, how do we address the significance AND growing awkwardness of Black History Month. There exists a resounding question of whether or not we in effect, check the box as it were and continue to exalt the triumphs and travails of Black men and women throughout our history. Or, has the time come to move things along toward a more worthwhile endeavor?
As such, when we speak on the significance of Black History Month celebrated each year, we have to clear our collective lens a bit more. No longer can our acknowledgement of Black legacy and contribution toward the betterment of our nation exist in the funnel of a less than 30 day window. We owe ourselves, our children, and our social construct a more fulfilling offering to wholly evolve. We ought not look upon Black History Month as an egg timer. Wherever we find ourselves, be it the business community, music or sports industry, and our educational system, let’s be forthright in our questions and actions to move forward. Are we listening and participating in a greater, more inclusive conversation from the Black community? Have we created an atmosphere within our homes and places of business where the education and understanding of contributions and advancement of Black achievement is an ongoing process within the American experience? And it is not enough to simply ask these questions but to make into existence a clear and noticeable reality of betterment which benefits all bodies.
This piece began with an important quote from Dr. Carter G. Woodson (Omega Psi Phi, Inc.), famed American historian, author, and oft’ referred as the “Father of Black History.” While this specific quote can be misconstrued to mean there should be an end to the celebration of Black History Month, it is of greater importance to magnify its premise of what needs to be in place BEFORE there is no longer a need to elevate this yearly milestone -- and this will take us all, more days and months moving forward.