George Ploss: Black History Month is too narrowly focused--Carter Woodson would be appalled





[Mr. Ploss is a student and a columnist at the U. of Illinois student newspaper.]

Black History Month has become a tool to marginalize and demean our great historical contribution to this country and the world into a month focused on just the Civil Rights Movement and a handful of disproportionately focused events in black history. Carter G. Woodson would be ashamed if he compared, what was first Negro History week in 1926, to what we have know.

When Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland set apart the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, their official mission was to "promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about black life, history and culture to the global community," not to disgrace our history and throw it into the shortest month out of the year. Also, to clarify why BHM is in February, it is not because of a grand conspiracy of the powers that be, but because Dr. Woodson wanted Negro History Week to fall between President Abraham Lincoln's and Frederick Douglass' birthdays, Lincoln's being February 12, 1809 and Douglass' being February 14, 1817 respectively.

February shouldn't be a month when Black History goes on tour. BHM shouldn't be an example of brevity for the world to only know that Dr. King had a dream, Rosa Parks sat on a bus and that Lincoln freed the slaves. I mean come on, could we please wake up and teach some real history instead of reiterating the "white" version of black history. Could we talk about Nat Turner, Ida B. Wells, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Shirley Chisholm, Marita Bonne, Jack Greenberg, Ruby Dee and the entire life of W.E.B. DuBois?

February has become the month to focus on a "handful" of African-Americans, while ignoring them the rest of the year, and to brainwash us into thinking that race relations in this country have become hunky-dory. So, could you tell me if this is beneficial and instrumental toward teaching awareness that our history is just as important as white history?

A month of honoring black history is all-good, but not just to celebrate and leave it be. Think about the thousands of children who will be shoved into an auditorium and forced to watch half a PBS documentary about Dr. King and how his "Dream" has come true, and that would be it.

There has been an American "whiteout" of black history, and the month is a tool that has been used regressively toward our headway as people. Woodson would choose a theme every day for Negro History Week. Hasn't the theme of BHM been the same for the past 10 years, or been "Civil Rights" for longer? I'm not knocking the era, I'm knocking why it's being focused on more than any other period of black history, and then not being represented accurately. Why isn't Wal-Mart sponsoring a Malcolm X moment in black history? History has glossed that President Woodrow Wilson was racist, He was a member of the KKK and even had a private screening of the film "Birth of A Nation" in the White House. People think Malcolm was a racist because he was misrepresented, and that's what is happening to black history. It's being misrepresented because black history itself has become a month and not a foundational pillar of American history. One Love.


comments powered by Disqus