As of late, there's been a lot of discussion about whether or not Black History Month should be done away with. This is in large part due to some comments made by Clueless actress, Stacey Dash, on Fox News recently. I won't say I disagree with her entirely; I wish there wasn't a need for a Black History Month. In a perfect world, there wouldn't have been a need for it to begin with. This world, however, is far from perfect and Black History Month is still needed. So we've comprised this list of five reasons Black History Month is still very much necessary in 2016.
5. The Lack of inclusion of Black people in American history
As I stated, in a perfect world there would have never been a need for Black History Month in the first place. In a perfect world, the stories of Black people here in America would be well documented and taught in schools throughout the country, year-round. Stories of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Garrett A. Morgan would be mentioned in the history books. Tragedies like the bombing of Black Wall St. would be as big of a deal as the stock market crash of 1929. But, the sad reality is that this is not so. As a matter of fact, outside of slavery and the civil rights movement, I don't remember learning much about Black people in school. Black people have helped build this country and the contributions we've made to American society are often overlooked and treated as a footnote in the subject of American history. Now, whenever that changes, I'll agree that we'll no longer need Black History Month.
4. To CeleBrate The Diversity of America
The United States of America often tries to pass itself of as the land of the free. The country where people of all races, religions and creeds can come live as equals and be accepted. While other countries have been plagued with controlling dictatorships, civil wars and division, America tries so hard to present itself as the most progressive nation in the world. You and I know that is a joke! If that were the case, then Americans would jump at the opportunity to share in each others cultures. People of all races would take pride in the fact that we can celebrate the diverse backgrounds and history that have made up this "great" nation. Cinco De Mayo and St. Patrick's Day would be seen as more than just an excuse to get drunk. Hispanic Heritage Month would get more mainstream media attention. Chinese New Year and Puerto Rican Day parade would be respected celebrations by everyone. The Native Americans (or Indigenous People) would have a holiday that doesn't remind them of how their people were slaughtered and robbed of the land THEY discovered. Last but not least, people would not be trying to abolish the only 28 days of the year where Black people get to feel like we're accepted as apart of The United States of America.
3. To Teach Our Young Black people to have pride and dignity in themselves
I am one who believes that the biggest reason the Black youth of this country don't value their lives and the lives of people that look like them is because they lack knowledge of self. They have very little sense of pride and dignity. Their self-esteem have been beaten down. The disenfranchised neighborhoods and environments they are raised in have made them feel worthless. So what do they do? They act out. Our youth roam the streets, day and night, over-indulging in reckless, self-destructive behavior. Drugs addiction, alcohol abuse, reckless sexual habits and senseless acts of violence are all considered to be acceptable behaviors with our youth. One way to combat that is to change the way they see themselves. If you show them what they are capable of being by showing them some of the great things Black people have accomplished in history and reminding them of what we've overcome, you have a chance of teaching them to carry themselves with pride. You have a chance of teaching them to value their own lives and the lives of people around them. But as long as we refuse to show them where they come from, we can't blame them for going through life aimlessly.
2. To remind us of our country's ugly past so we don't repeat those mistakes in the future
Pay attention to what I'm about to say...America as a country has come a LONG way. We really have. There was a time when Black people (all minorities for that matter) had no rights. Black people were treated as property, like livestock and not human beings. Blacks were shot, hung or beaten for being on the wrong side of the tracks. Hell, I could've been killed on sight just for writing this because it was illegal for Black people to read in this country! Just because we've come a long way, we can not forget where we came from. It's been said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it; and that's exactly what seems to be happening as of late. Our country seems to be slipping back into our old ways of racism and discrimination. It's like we've forgotten the progress that has been achieved to make this nation peaceful and prosperous for all, and diverted back to our old ways of being at odds with one another. Our patriotism is being traded in for hate-riotism; and the division seemed to come to a head with the election of Barack Obama. We are a nation divided once again. It's important that we recognize and celebrate the contributions of Black people in this country, but it's also important that we remind ourselves of the ugliness Blacks have faced in this country. I would hate to see men, women and children being beaten to a bloody mess just for walking down the street. I would hate to see innocent children dying because a church, or temple, or mosque was burned to the ground by some racist faction of terrorists. I would hate to see this country lose 50 years worth of progress simply because we failed to learn from the mistakes of our past.
1. So our legacy doesn't fade into darkness
This point is not for White Americans who want to get rid of Black History Month, but for our own people that want to get rid of Black History Month. It is bad enough that when we were sold into slavery by our own people, that we were immediately cut off from our heritage and history in Africa. The majority of us today either don't identify ourselves as African decedents or have very little information about where our people come from. We were taken from our families, stripped of our language and cultures, and forced to adopt new ones. If that wasn't bad enough, you want to try to convince people that they need to forget about the few weeks out of the year where Black people in this country are allowed to remind themselves of how far we've come and how much we've overcome? What exactly do you expect to accomplish by doing that? I'll tell you what you will accomplish; the eradication of memories from an endangered race of people that are currently being wiped off the face of the Earth. Black people are dying at record numbers these days. Years of poverty, disease, mass incarceration, police brutality and senseless acts of violence against one another are causing our people to disappear by the thousands each year. You get rid of Black History Month and in coming years, there will be nothing left to say we were even here. Black people along with our history will become a distant memory.
As I said at the beginning of this list, in a perfect world there wouldn't be a need for Black History Month. But this world, more specifically this country, is not perfect. As for all the people who want to get rid of Black History Month, don't worry; there will be plenty of distractions during the month of February to make you forget it even exists! I mean there's the Superbowl, All-Star Weekend, Valentine's Day, the Grammy Awards, the Academy Awards; there's something going on every week that will make it seem like Black History Month didn't even happen. So if you want to opt out on the celebrations, you're more than welcome to do so. But don't try to dictate to the rest of the people who want to celebrate Black History Month and recognize that it is still very much necessary in 2016.
Remon is a multi-media personality. He is the founder of The Urban Advocate.