Since Africans were brought to America, they have been dehumanized, oppressed, and humiliated. Today, Africans in America and people of African descent are still treated this way. Many people often argue that there should not be a Black history Month because Black history is American history.
While this is true, Black history is not thought of or taught as a part of American history. Most times, if African-American history is taught in schools, it is taught as an elective that people choose to learn about, and not as part of history in its entirety. Black History Month is the one time in our pre-college school systems that people are required to learn about Black history. Without a month dedicated to the many great African-Americans who were and are civil rights activists, inventors, and leaders, people would not be forced to see the greatness of African-Americans.
Individuals often argue that Black History Month should be abolished because Black history should be taught every day of the year, but we do not live in this kind of society, a society in which African-Americans are seen as important enough to be included in the common core of history or society. You cannot ask that Black History Month be abolished and that Black history be taught and acknowledged every day of the year when African-Americans are still struggling to show the nation that we matter too. If our lives are being seen as a waste of space, and if we are constantly being killed and oppressed in this country, is there any legitimate reason to believe that people will agree that Black history is important and worthy of teaching?
A common argument that people often use in their attempts to point to some kind of “underlying prejudice” behind Black History Month is that it takes place in the shortest month of the year. Perhaps what people don’t understand is that Black History Month is in February to honor all of the great African-Americans born and all of the significant events that happened during that month.
Black History Month started as Negro History Week in 1926 in honor of people like Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. The idea was to pay homage to not only those men, but also to important achievements and contributions made by other influential African-Americans. If people feel as though the month of February isn’t long enough, imagine trying to fit all of the amazing things African-Americans have done into a week.
People fail to remember that African-Americans haven’t been “free” for very long, and we are still struggling in a society where a lot of people have nothing but disdain for African-Americans. In today’s society, believing that we should get rid of Black History Month is equivalent to yelling “all lives matter” at a Black Lives Matter rally. Thinking about taking away Black History Month is just another attempt at silencing the voice of a people who have been oppressed and dehumanized for centuries. Those who believe that we no longer need Black History Month fall between the lines of a naïve idealist and the oppressor.
For now, Black History Month is a small part of the voice of African-Americans that are allowed to be heard. There are still barriers that have to be broken down, and taking away Black History Month will not help to raise those important voices.