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A Failure to Respect and Observe Black History Month

There are many who would say in America that race relations are just fine, that African Americans are just too “sensitive.” They need to just “get over” the past. Slavery is over, let’s just move on.

February is a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African Americans have played in shaping US history.  Carter G. Woodson is considered the Father of Black History Month for his study of African American history. He is given much of the credit for Black History Month by writing African Americans into history since history textbooks largely ignored America's black and brown people. Granted, not everyone supports Black History Month.

To add insult to injury, all over the nation this month there has been much disrespect and little celebration, as it has been overshadowed by dishonor.

Gucci released a blackface sweater in February. Burberry released a hoodie with a noose as an accessory. College students paraded around in blackface on their campuses.  Atlanta teachers thought it would be a bright idea to hold an assembly for their second graders' parents; where their children were in blackface masks,  reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem, "We Wear The Mask" in “honor” of Black History Month. Apparently we need to have a conversation again about the toxicity around minstrelsy in America; whites dressing up, caricaturing African Americans, mimicking their dance, their language, their music as comic relief for their audiences. This use of these images to dehumanize and stereotype is not honoring. What the cuss, can we do better people!

Dishonoring Black History Month and failure to observe it, is another racist assault on the African American people.  Organizations and individuals need to just do better!  A little cultural awareness and intercultural training would go a long way towards bringing to light biases and help people to work with and connect cross-culturally.

Langston Hughes said it well...

Let America Be America Again “O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be!”

How do we get there:

February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month! Black History Month is American history!  This month can be celebrated in many ways.  Celebrating this month is an opportunity to reflect on our past.  As we look back, we can acknowledge and lament over the tragedy of slavery, lynching, abuse, and rape of black people, etc.  In doing so, we are reminded of what people are capable of, so we don’t repeat the atrocities of the past.

Black History Month helps us to examine where we are as a country. It allows us to look at the most challenging issues facing African Americans now as a result of centuries of slavery, systemic oppression, and neglect.   Facing history allows us to find ways to build racial equity in our broken systems.

Black History Month gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the often ignored  accomplishments and contributions of African Americans.  Through celebrating Black History Month, we can give credit to those who did not receive honor when they were living.

This celebration gives those who are not black an opportunity to personally embrace cultural awareness and inclusion of other ethnic groups as a lifestyle, acknowledging that black and brown lives do matter and are worth getting to know.

As this month of celebration closes out and we look to the future, if you are interested in finding meaningful ways to observe Black History Month, here are some suggestions found in the link below.

Here are 3 methods each with a list of ways to celebrate.

Celebrate-Black-History-Month? Method 1 Learning about Black Art and CultureMethod 2 Going to Black History Month EventsMethod 3 Engaging with Black History and HeritageDon't forget to like us on Facebook

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