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What Black History Month Is And Isn’t

Over the Februarys that have come and gone, I have felt that people (both black and non-black alike) have forgotten about the point of Black History Month. I have seen black people use Black History Month to speak on issues that have nothing to do with black historythe month. I have also seen non-black people say negative things about the month because ofin confusion of what it is about. Therefore, this blog will list Here are five points of what things of what Black History Month is and isn’t a time for.

1. Black History Month is (surprise!) a time to celebrate black history (and I mean all of black history).

This is the main point of celebrating Black History Month: celebrating black history. And not just the past seventy years of black history, which sometimes people just do, but all of black history. Don’t get me wrong, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama (all people from the past seventy years) are great and have done great things to further the advance of black people in America. However, black history did not start with them.

Black history started with the first African who stepped on American shores, and continues to the present time. As we celebrate Black History Month, in addition to remembering the famous people like Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, and the four people listed above, we should remember Phillis Wheatley, who was the first published African-American poet in America. We should remember William H. Carney, who was a Civil War hero and the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor. We should remember George Washington Buckner, who was the first African-American to serve as a diplomatic minister to a foreign country. We should remember Ella Fitzgerald, the first African-American to win a Grammy. All of these great men and women who sometimes get forgotten should also be remembered during the month of February.

2. Black History Month isn’t meant as a time to ignore other races in America.

Without fail, every time February rolls around the calendar, I see a post on Facebook by a non-black person complaining that Black History Month is wrong to celebrate because it’s ignoring the other races in America. That’s not what Black History Month is about. When a group of people is temporarily put into the spotlight, it doesn’t mean that everyone else not in the spotlight are automatically less important.

It’s just that during these short 28 days of the 365 days in a year, black people and their history are honored. This is just like when your sibling got extra attention for something back when you were younger, like getting all A’s for the honor roll. Even though your brother or sister was being honored and not you, it didn’t mean your parents ignored you or cared for you any less. Likewise, Black History Month is a not a time for the other races in America to be ignored.

3. Black History Month is a time to be unapologetically black.

Black History Month is a time to be proud of your black roots! It’s a time to be proud of where your heritage came from, and how far your family has come since then. It’s a time to praise the people who have come before us, and paved the road for us to be where we are today. It’s a time to recognize #BlackMagic, and all the current black people like Simone Biles, Octavia Spencer, and Taraji P. Henson who are accomplishing so much.

It’s a time to be #NoFilter when it comes to your skin tone and color, even if, in the past, you were not proud of how dark you are. Black History Month is a time to love your culture, even though it may not be perfect, and accept it and all of its flaws. Lastly, even though life and the media may not always look hopeful, Black History Month is a time to be hopeful. If our race could advance this far in a century, I’m hopeful that we can advance so much farther in the next.

4. Black History Month isn’t a time to be apologetically black.

Recently, I went to a special service that was in honor of Black History Month that a friend and I both expected was going to honor the history of black people. However, it didn’t. The black preacher who spoke took the time to apologize for the negative aspects of the black community like Black Lives Matter and the problems of the inner cities. Black History Month is not the time to apologize for the ills of the black community. Yes, the inner cities have problems, and yes, Black Lives Matter is not perfect. However, Black Lives Matter doesn’t define black history, and neither do the inner cities. Black Lives Matter is a separate issue, and the inner cities should be improved continually, not just when Feb. 1 rolls around. As I said before, Black History Month is (surprise!) a time to celebrate Black History, not to bring up political and economic problems.

5. Black History Month is a time to remember that you’re black 24/7, and not just during the month of February.

Obviously, if you are black, you are black 24/7. However, it seems that some people forget that they are black by only mentioning it and celebrating their blackness during the month of February. I am guilty of this, and have made a commitment in past years to be more proud of my race all the time, not just during February.

One thing that helps me to be more proud of my race each year is to research history and watch movies that celebrate the past accomplishments of my fellow black people. In fact, this year, a friend and I went to see the recently released movie “Hidden Figures”. I left the movie extra proud of my fellow black women because they were geniuses, and also because the true story behind the movie took place in Hampton, Virginia, the town I’ve lived for the past seven years. I knew the story before, but seeing the history in movie form made me extra excited. I encourage others to do things that make them extra proud of being black, 24/7, whether that is reading about history and watching history-based movies.

Whatever you do (or did) this Black History Month, remember to be proud, unapologetic and 24/7 black. These are the things that Black History Month is.

Photo Credit: Grace Kelley, Aubrea Shackleford

 

 

 

 

English major. Blogger. Writer. Novelist. Regent University student. Class of 2019.
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