It’s not racist to ask.
There are a lot of recognized heritage months: Irish, Italian, Asian Pacific Islander, German, Jewish, Hispanic, Polish, Native American, Scottish, Caribbean, Women, and even a Confederate History Month recognized mainly in the Southern US.
Because these heritage months are about ethnicity and culture. Not race.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Due to our particular experiences in how most of our ancestors ended up in the US — well, slavery. I know. You’re like, “Ugh! Again with the slavery. Let it go, already.”
But seriously, it really is why “black” is our ethnicity and our race. It’s practically impossible for African Americans to figure out what country in Africa our great, great, great, great, and so on, grandparents came from. There are a LOT of ethnic groups in Africa, too. Thousands. And many different languages and dialects.
Fun fact: It was part of the slave trade — the economic system of slavery — to make it illegal for slaves to speak their native language. Even to use their actual names. Even to play and sing their cultural music. Slaver breakers and owners worked hard to squeeze and beat (literally sometimes) the culture and history out of African slaves.
Were my ancestors from Nigeria or Kenya? Don’t know. What languages did they speak? No idea.
One of my paternal uncles had a relatively easy time tracking down our white distant relatives — descended from our English and Irish ancestors — somewhere in VA. #OurHistoryIsYourHistoryToo
He hit a brick wall with our African ancestors. And our Indian (asia-India) ancestor.
So the best we, as a country, can do is to acknowledge our mutual “black” experience. Black as an ethnicity and the culture that comes from a shared experience.
What’s so great about black American ethnicity/culture?
Good question. What’s so great about Italian, Irish, German, and Polish people? Or English or Scottish? Or women, for that matter?
- Aren’t Polish people stupid? That’s why there are so many Polish jokes.
- Aren’t Germans jew-hating nazis?
- Aren’t Irish people drunk, fighting, and constantly squirting out rowdy, ginger children?
- Aren’t Italians greasy, loud, obnoxious — or whatever.
- Aren’t the English just serial mass murderers who devastated and razed every part of the world they’ve visited?
You get my point. Those are awful stereotypes. The answer is no. I mean, stereotypes are often based on a grain of truth of the more negative or different aspects of another culture. And then they get blown up and used to put down a group of people.
My point is, the Jerry Springer version of black culture is not really black culture. Neither is “The Wire” and the scourge of drug culture. It’s there, true. Obviously. Can’t deny the crappy parts. It may be what some of us do but it’s not how the vast majority of us are and it’s definitely not who we are.
Black culture is defined by the black people that work their asses off despite being abused and living under American apartheid — even after slavery ended, and after the lynching years — up until the late 60’s.
It’s the black people that still managed to get a decent education even though they weren’t allowed to attend the best institutions. Even though they weren’t allowed to work at the same good jobs. It’s the working class black people that worked themselves to an early grave to make sure that their kids had the opportunity to go to school, get jobs, and vote.
It’s the middle class black people that integrated with the rest of society and put all the societal abuse and stress aside (or repressed it) for the sake of their kids and their own sanity. It’s all the black people that went on to be teachers, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, military officers, doctors, surgeons, actors, athletes, inventors, engineers, professors, Olympians, senators, congressmen, President, astronauts, astrophysicists, and so on when the country was telling them that they weren’t good enough, weren’t smart enough and that they never would be.
Fun fact: Believe it or not there was a time when black people weren’t allowed to play sports on the same teams as whites. Because white people believed that black people were too inferior to complete or lacked the intelligence to play certain sports. Craziness.
Okay, but still. Why a black history month?
Because there are too many people who refer to Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday as Nigger Day.[tweet https://twitter.com/YesYoureRacist/status/425411757784715264]
And because there are too many people who call President Obama a dumb, stupid, dirty, ignorant, worthless nigger.[tweet https://twitter.com/YesYoureRacist/status/430464239258841088]
My problem is that Black History Month is lame. You can’t talk about Rosa Parks every year and “I have a dream” and expect people to respect what you’re trying to say. Black History Month should teach us how we fit together by giving us opportunities to interact and hang out together. Work, play, get to know each other, where we come from, and where we want to go.
Shoot. This was supposed to be short. I’m done.