Kenton Gibbs | Staff Writer
Year after year, Black History Month (BHM) is always a hotly debated topic. Questions like “should it exist?” or “why is it important?” are staples of said debates. Many of the arguments against it are fundamentally flawed and nonsensical in nature. In my opinion, BHM is not only important, it is necessary. In the words of President Barack Obama, “let me be clear” Black History Month ain’t going anywhere.
Many argue that it’s unfair for black people to have BHM while there’s no equivalent for white people. Well to them I’d simply ask: have you ever read any history books in school? America doesn’t need a white history month because we experience white history throughout every day of our lives. The fact that history remembers John Smith as a brave hero who Pocahontas fell in love with instead of a brutal colonizing rapist is why we don’t need it. When history books in Texas call the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression, we don’t need that month. There is no fundamental need for a month that truly embraces a culture if a society does such a task all year round.
Another argument that I constantly hear is the one used by Morgan Freeman. In a 2009 interview on the television show 60 minutes he said, “You can’t relegate my history to a month.” He further elaborated when he said, “Black history is American history.” Well the fact of the matter is that black history isn’t taught throughout the year as it should be.
Having a nationally recognized month does not limit our history to only that. There can be a Black History Month while still teaching our history throughout the year. However, I do find it funny that with all the black history months that have come and gone, stories like the one of the women who “Hidden Figures” was based on was never told.
Furthermore, BHM is for black people worldwide, not just for the history of black people in America. The Haitian revolution should be a must when teaching about black history. The fact that they successfully revolted against their slave masters and sent every other European nation that came for them away in defeat is black history. The history of African countries before the Trans Atlantic and Arab slave trades should also be taught during Black History Month. Black people worldwide are black history.
Another reason we need BHM is the fact that we are always being told to get over things. Everything in the world that happens to non black people seems to be tagged with the line “Never Forget.” Yet somehow, our story is always forgotten.
There will never be such a thing as the Hitler Scholarship and rightly so because he was directly responsible for the murders of 6 million Jewish people. Cecil Rhodes on the other hand has a prestigious scholarship at Oxford despite the fact that estimates of how many deaths he caused are 5 million at the absolute lowest. Is it those last million dead bodies that separate genocidal monsters from honorable nation builders, or is it the skin color of the victims? Questions like this are why we need BHM.
BHM will never be enough time to acknowledge the contributions that black people have given to the world but without it folks would continue to steal our work, gentrify it and repackage it as original. Or even worse, whitewash history to say that everyone loved docile quiet obedient Martin Luther King and no one opposed his message of equality. So next time someone asks you “should black history month be abolished?” Simply reply, “Like the legacy of oppression, whitewashing and cultural appropriation in America it is here to stay.