Hey, readers! Below is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Olivia! If you know me, equal rights for all and celebrating differences is something I am VERY passionate about.Because of that, I do support Black History Month and the significance it holds for African Americans. I asked Olivia to do this guest post because:
1. I think it’s important that this is talked about
2. I know it’s something she feels very strongly about.
Hope you enjoy!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I bet you thought I was talking about Christmas, but I was actually referring to Black History Month! Ok, so maybe it’s not the most wonderful time of year, but it’s pretty amazing. Let’s get into my personal top 5 reasons (I’ll limit it to five, because we could be here all day) why black history month is important.
The hot mess that is our current political climate
I know this kind of goes without saying, but America is a mess as of late. We have a president that somehow won after spending a year and a half being incredibly disrespectful to just about every marginalized group there is. He was the Oprah of hurling insults every which way like, “You get an insult, and you get an insult! Look under your seat, everyone in the studio audience is going home insulted!!” Was that hyperbole? Maybe a little bit.
Black History Month is more important now than it’s ever been because it can do wonders to remind people of all the good that can come from diversity. It reminds us that people from all walks of life have contributed great things that have made this world brighter place.
If you’re American, you’ve been celebrating this month since elementary school. If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard all the same stories over and over again. They teach us that Harriet Tubman freed the slaves, George Washington Carver made peanut butter, and Martin Luther King Jr. lead The Civil Rights Movement. The achievements of these individuals are great, but it does all get a little bit redundant. Can we not share the wealth? Are they the only three black people who ever achieved anything? Obviously, that’s not the case. There are people like Claudette Colvin, Carter G. Woodson, and Jesse Owen. All of whom I didn’t learn about until way later in life. That’s a crime, especially when you factor in that Carter G. Woodson started Black History Month! Black History Month, if done more inclusively, can be a fantastic time to highlight amazing Black men and women in America’s history.
Black Girl Magic
So far this article has been a little biased, and if I’m being honest, it’s about to get worse. PSA: BLACK GIRLS ARE MAGIC!! I REPEAT, BLACK GIRLS ARE MAGIC!! Sorry, dear reader, I didn’t mean to get all up in your face, but all caps were necessary!
Now that that’s out of the way, you may now be wondering what I meant by that statement. Black Girl Magic is a movement and hashtag started by CaShawn Thompson, a black girl, for black girls. She made it as a means to celebrate the resilience of black women. We are so often disenfranchised, and she saw an opportunity to shine a light on the ways in which we continue to thrive despite everything in the world telling us we shouldn’t. For example, black women are currently the most educated group in the U.S. right now. (You can read more about it here) That fact right there: magic! #BlackGirlMagic to be specific. The fact that the now critically acclaimed film “Hidden Figures” surpassed “La La Land” as the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017: Also #BlackGirlMagic! I mean a movie about three insanely intelligent black women helping the U.S. send a man to space? And doing so in the 1950s and 60s? That’s magic, people! MAGIC!!
If you need more examples, then I have four words for you: Beyonce and Serena Williams. Beyonce is one of, if not the most, celebrated artists of our generation. In the past four years, she’s used her art and platform to call attention to the unique plight of black people and more specifically, black women. I could go on, but it’s 2017, and Google exists, so I’ll leave you to do your homework. (I won’t go into all of Serena Williams’ achievements, (we don’t have the time), but this link will give you a comprehensive list of her unequivocal amazingness. Everything mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg as far as #BlackGirlMagic is concerned.
If we’re going to celebrate the greatness of black people in this country, then black women need to be acknowledged for the tremendous role they play.
The Whitewashing of American History
You may have read the title for this particular point, and you’re already feeling defensive. Just hear me out! Not to shade the entire American education system, but they need to do better. Now I understand that the victors write history, but that history is often revisionist. It often excludes certain narratives and paints other narratives in a more positive light than they occurred. Given the systems of power at play in our country, white people were often the victors. This leads to their stories and histories being prioritized over those of people of color. All of this leads to things like white history being the core curriculum and the histories of people of color being an afterthought. I’m in no way complaining about the fact that we have a black history month, but I think it’s important to recognize where the need for it comes from. Our stories deserve the chance to be heard.
Black History IS American History
Last, but most certainly not least, Black history IS American history. Our stories are weaved into the very fabric of this country. Black people had a history before slavery, and our story is about so much more than the various ways we’ve had to suffer since. We are this amazing group of people that continue to rise and thrive in a country/world that in a lot of ways was set up for us to fail. To exclude us from the narrative is to do everyone a great disservice. Being resilient in the face of oppression and degradation is the epitome of American.
So, what more do you need to know? Ok, I suppose that’s a loaded question because as we’ve discussed, there is a lot more that you need to know about Black History month. Now that you’re equipped with some facts (and a few admittedly bias opinions) go forth and celebrate black excellence!
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