Well, we survived one more year of Black History Month.
Even as I wrote the title, a new thought popped into my head: this is the only time of the year we, as a people of color historically from our Motherland collectively refer to oursevles as Black. Now this is not about to be a treatise in favor or against the use of “black” or “Black” or one for or against “African American” or “African-American” because anyone who has read any of my writings knows my stance on this issue. But I must say that overwhelmingly, people do refer to it as Black History Month and not African American History Month.
That being said, I must say that I am quite disappointed in my environment that I seemingly have surrounded myself. First I will take blame because I have not surrounded myself with people who have a larger Black History Month awareness. Secondly, I fault the culture of my school who, merely for the sake of people’s feelings and the specter of what I might say coming back to haunt me later on in my career, I will remain politically mute. Thirdly, I fault the South and that’s where I will begin.
Most times when I say somethings, its quite interesting to see what I call the level of awareness of people. Having lived down south for the better part of the last five years, only broken up by Christmas and summer holidays, I’m convinced that this level of awareness was delineated by the parts of the country in which people were born and raised. Sadly, the farther south I went, the less aware people appeared to be. I recall a conversation I had my first week of undergrad, during Orientation Week with some new found friends from Lafayette, Lousiana and I mentioned reparations and it was met with such ignorance from the comments I received, I was muted because I was stunned by the ignorance of the comment. Again, from some other people born and raised in Louisiana, my friend told me that he wanted to marry a girl with “good hair” so his children’s hair “didn’t come out nappy.” I think I lost my appetite when he said that.
Now, I’ve gotten over it, but still where is the black pride? I know others disagree with my celebration and approval of Kwanzaa and simply because I’m tired I just don’t bring it up unless I think there will be a listening ear. Even my parents believe that I’m a Kwanzaa defecter, but that’s for a counseling session, not a blog. I mean, I believe that even if one disagrees with Kwanzaa, for instance, that it shouldn’t be met with sheer ignorance, but at least something that makes sense.
I’m rambling to say that living down south, Black History Month seems to be a joke!
In Chicago, name any church, any school, and office anywhere throughout the city there was some Black History Month celebration going on. Even in the dead of winter, in the seemingly coldest month of the year, where all the snow has been on the ground all season, people would still trudge out to a Black History play to see their little child be Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver. Now, I’m not saying that Atlanta, since that is where I am now, has not done this, but somehow, I’ve not surrounded myself around people who consciously mention Black History Month. Some would that is because for them Black History is 365–I’m not denying that, but still, could we at least acknowledge it in our speeches, in our bulletin boards, in our programs? Could we at least up the ante just a lil bit? I mean, I heard enough sermons this month and the only reason I heard it in two of the about six sermons I’ve heard this month was because they were at a church with the name Imani in the church name and pride themselves on being African centered in theme and thought.
So I’m not posing the question as to the validity of Black History Month, enough people have worked out that issue where I don’t need to chime in, but I am posing the question as to just how seriously do people take it. We see the commercials of the local news stations saying that “Channel [your local news station of choice] committed to the African American community” with some drums playing in the background or some gospely music that’s equally as placating. Whatever the case may be, I’m just hoping that people just wake up (shout out to “School Daze’s 20th anniversary on its release date!) and just realize that we are in fact becoming a footnote in the American conscience.
Frankly I’m too damn important to be just a footnote, or one paragraph or even one chapter in the conscience of the United States–I have too much work to do, and we have too many issues to be nothing more than an afterthought.
Let’s just do better next year.
Keep it uppity, JLL