A Reflection of Black History Month

This past black history month was…interesting to say the least. Black History Month should be a celebration of how as a people, we have made great achievements, overcame hardships, created a beautiful culture, and how we are striving for a better future. While these should be celebrated throughout the year, it should be especially celebrated during February (the shortest month of the year). However, the celebration this year was interrupted by multiple events that show that we still have a long way to go before everyone is seen as equal.

    There was the incident with Gucci, and their $890 sweater that looked like a reference to blackface. The sweater was a black design that had a turtleneck that went over the nose and a large pair of red, cartoon lips that surrounded a mouth cut out. In case you didn’t know, blackface is offensive and racist. Blackface was a common occurrence in theater where white actors would put grease on their faces to represent a black character and act out stereotypes of black people as a way to dehumanize and make fun of them. This reflected a time where black people were seen as beneath white people, so for people to use it or make references to it in contemporary times is disgusting. Gucci has come out and apologized for the sweater, saying that blackface was not their intention and has made the solution to hire more diverse employees in order to build cultural awareness along with other diversity initiatives.1

    Another event that happened was Liam Neeson admitting that he went on a hunt to revenge kill a black man 40 years ago.2 Apparently, he had a friend that was raped and he asked what color the man was and she responded that the man was black. Therefore, in a revenge-fueled fury, for a week he went into areas of town where there were more black people to see if a black man would come out of a bar and get into a fight with him, so he could kill them with a bludgeon. There is a lot to unpack in this situation. First of all, I have no idea why he would tell this racist story, unprompted, to a journalist. Second, why would he have asked what color the person was? This was apparently very important to him, so he could deliberate his next course of action. While there a more points to be made in this situation, I would like to end on this final point, that he was willing to kill an innocent black man. Thankfully, he didn’t kill anyone, but the sad part is that I doubt there will be an real repercussions for him telling this story.

    These events, plus the others that occurred that I did not mention here, just show how there is still a long way for us to go before everyone is seen and treated to have equal rights. After all, look at who our current president is. We as a society need to recognize that there are systems in place that act to devalue and oppress people based on the color of their skin. By acknowledging this, we can dismantle these systems, move forward and create a better community for all of us. I will be celebrating black history all days of the year, but I am looking forward to hopefully a better black history month next year.