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Whenever Black History Month comes around, I experience mixed feelings stemming from its celebration in the Department of Defense schools that I attended during my childhood. It was always a time of shame and mockery mixed with defiant force for us. We weren't permitted to sit it out, we were commanded to celebrate, which took a lot of the fun out of it. I always wondered why the history of black people had to be confined to a single month instead of being inside the history books along with the rest.
When I posed this question to my Social Studies teacher, he said that blacks came here as slaves and needed our history highlighted to remove the stigma of that history. His overgeneralized answer turns out to be factually incorrect, since there are many blacks who are not descended from slaves, like my family members on my mother's side. I didn’t learn of this until my aunt did a genealogical search and traced our roots, self publishing them in a little book that means a lot to all of us.
But I digress. The shame and mockery came from other students that simply thought it was funny that blacks needed their history covered in only one month as if there wasn’t enough to cover it every month as it is done for whites. Invariably, it wasn’t enjoyable. I remember the emphasis on “black foods” and “black traditions” that seemed peculiar since we ate pretty much what everyone else ate and celebrated Christmas and New Years, Easter, and Independence Day...like everyone else.
Current day celebrations usually center around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and what we have achieved since integration.
While celebrating Dr. King is worthwhile, it’s still part and parcel to the idea that blacks must have special treatment in order to be accepted or equal. Consequently, it was with disgust that I came across this piece highlighting things that still need improvement for modern day blacks. I don’t disagree that blacks in America need change; but my views and remedies for what ills the black community are decidedly different from these:
There is still a need for Black History Month, but something far more substantial beyond a month long celebration is needed. Black History Month is needed:
• When the attitudes towards the lives of 300 black children killed by gun violence in Chicago in the past three year are treated differently from 20 first graders killed in Newtown, Connecticut;
• When the conservative leaders of our country try to deny many blacks the right to vote through unnecessary voter ID laws and unnecessary IDs;
• When the prison system is overflowing with more black males than any other race or ethnicity.
• When many young black males have a direct pipeline from the school house to the jail house;
• When blacks who have completed their prison terms and paid their debt to society are disenfranchised from voting;
• When the black unemployment rate is almost twice that of the country's average;
• When the sub-prime mortgage industry targeted blacks causing a disproportionate number of blacks to lose their homes through foreclosure;
• When affirmative action is still needed to ensure a level playing field for blacks;
The writer of this piece has obviously bought into the Democrat's decades long message of victimhood and lies relating to conservatives, equality and educational needs. The writer's assertions sadly echo the sentiments of over 90% of blacks as well as the Democrat party. Simply put, I only agree ever so slightly with a couple of her assertions. The rest are easily and soundly debunked.
This isn’t a function of some white overlord in the suburbs, it’s a function of unions controlling schools and refusing to allow school choice. President Obama, who as the first black president should be very concerned by this, has done everything in his power to keep black kids trapped in failed District of Columbia schools, while his own daughters attend Sidwell Friends under armed guard and enjoy gourmet meals for lunch.
Black History Month was created with the best of intentions. Current events, such as having a black President serving his second term dictate a new approach. Put black history in the textbooks of the nation's children in the same way that every other race, nationality, and ethnicity are handled. This honors the monumental strides that blacks have made, in concert with our white counterparts. We have come together. That is something to celebrate. We can do this by integrating the plenteous history of blacks in America into the greater historical record.