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Monday, February 6, 2012

Black History Month

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As a black person, I have mixed feelings about Black History Month. It's one of those things that arose from good intentions, but seems to do as much bad as good. Black history is history. Every day we use items, eat food, read words, sing songs, etc., that came from the mind of a black person. And, like nonblacks, black people have made positive and negative contributions to our history--American history.

So, why do need a month to celebrate black history? Why devote a measly 28 days (with a bonus day during leap year) to acknowledge what black people have done for this country? Doing so implies that it's ok to ignore those contributions throughout the rest of the year. Doing so implies that blacks still hold second class citizenship status here. Those who hate blacks aren't going to like them more during Black History Month. If anything, it causes resentment in bigots.

I understand the need for Black History Month because, sadly, there are still people who consider the black race inferior. I even see the need for Affirmative Action (as long as there are employers who would deny a qualified black candidate a job solely based on his skin color.)  But, you know what? I don't want to be hired because I'm black any more than I want to not be hired because I'm black. I don't want my kids learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., Booker T. Washington and Rosa Parks in February--I want them to learn about black history January through December.

Don't treat me special because my ancestors were mistreated. Just treat me fairly. I'm no better or worse than anyone else because of my skin color. Sometimes I'm lazy, sometimes I'm generous, sometimes I'm bitchy, and sometimes I'm pretty brilliant. I'm also black--all the time, which has nothing to do with my other aforementioned traits.

I'm perfectly aware that some white people who claim to think I'm wonderful would open up a vein if their son were going to marry me. Black History Month isn't going to fix that.