Black History Month does not recognize everything

Marchae Grair

When Black History Month arrives, I prepare to get defensive.

Around this time every year, I engage in an argument with a Caucasian person who passionately tells me Black History Month is unnecessary. He or she claims black people’s fight for equality is finished, and a month isn’t needed to recognize the African-American culture.

I may be biased as an African-American, but I think black history is needed now as much as it was upon its inception.

Black History Month was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1929 because African-Americans were absent in textbooks, according to When Woodson found blacks included in American history, they were often in a position of social or intellectual inferiority.

After experiencing almost 13 years of history classes, it seems to me that not much has changed.

Unless I take a course that specializes in black history, I get the same representation of African-Americans every year: Blacks were enslaved, abused as sharecroppers and fought for civil rights. I do not learn about black inventors or explorers. It’s as though American history cannot be taught with elements of both African-American greatness and African-American suffering.

History in this country is presented as though any significant advance or accomplishment in America was due to someone with a white face. Every once in a while, someone like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored, but even King is associated with black oppression.

African-Americans, and other racial minorities, are like a side note in American history. The only time they are referenced is when they are under some sort of persecution. Their importance in politics, technological development and cultural wealth is often ignored.

This takes a serious effect on society as a whole. Whites subconsciously develop a sense of superiority because they are taught that they have dominated American culture for centuries. On the other hand, minorities feel a lower self-worth because they may not believe they can achieve as much as someone who is white.

It is difficult to drag myself to history class year after year knowing I will not feel much connection to anything I learn. I don’t see my reflection in the white faces that fill my history books.

Even worse, when I see a black face, it is in some sort of pure anguish. I don’t see the triumphant face of Garrett Morgan when he created the traffic light or the magic in the eyes of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams after he completed the first open heart surgery. How am I supposed to connect to a history that does not lift my people up?

If regular history curricula aren’t going to do the job, then I guess a celebration like Black History Month is needed. People of all races can learn about the triumphs of a race that is often misrepresented or not represented at all.

Instead of ending Black History Month, I think it should be expanded to incorporate all racial minorities. American society could use a month to appreciate all of the types of people that make up our nation.

Next time you go to complain about Black History Month, try to name the outstanding accomplishments of 10 blacks. If you can’t, then I guess you should stop complaining.

Marchae Grair is a freshman broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].