from negro history week to black history month

 

Carter G. Woodson was a brilliant man. He received his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in Kentucky (1903). Then, obtained two more degrees from the University of Chicago (1908). As if that wasn't enough, he then went on to pursue a PhD in history from Harvard University (1912). At the time, he was the second African American to earn a doctorate there. Woodson was a gifted journalist, author and historian. In fact, he is even credited with being the first African American historian.

During his extensive education, Woodson noticed that African Americans were often underrepresented or totally omitted from books and dialogues that shaped the study of American history. He noticed the recurring pattern of history happening to us rather than us impacting history. We were always the object, never the subject; a stage prop or supporting actor at best but never the main character. Consequently, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History  in 1915. 

The association's mission was to spread awareness about the achievements of African Americans and promote the studying of black culture. In 1926, Negro History Week was launched in order to spread the initiative to school systems. The idea spread like wildfire. Over the next few decades, there was an immense increase in the number of black organizations and school curricula which focused on the history and experiences of African Americans in the United States.

50 years later, President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance: ". . . we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history"


That was almost 100 years ago. Why should i care now?

 

Toussaint Louverture. Nat Turner. Musa Keita. Do any of these names ring a bell? If they don't, I don't blame you. You probably didn't learn about any of these characters even if you took AP History in high school.

Black people make history every. damn. day. and we still don't get the recognition we deserve. Aside from Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, people of color are rarely seen in textbooks unless we're in chains or on a boat. If we don't educate each other about black history, who the hell will? Especially our black youth. We can't leave it up to mainstream media and classroom environments to tell our story. We ourselves have the responsibility of telling each other's stories and sharing our ancestors' accomplishments. Otherwise, the next generation will grow up thinking Columbus discovered America and Ronald Reagan cared about black people. 


why there is no "white cultural center" or "white history month"

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Prior to the slave trade and imperialism, there was no "white" or "black"; people identified by their countries, states, tribes, villages, etc. The term "white" was created to distinguish from those who they deemed inferior--the darker races, the blacks.  Furthermore, this perceived notion of superiority (coupled with a warped view of Christianity) was the basis of the justification that Europeans could treat Africans as a form of currency.

In other words, the term "white"was used to affirm that you were part of this perceived superior race that had dominion over darker shades of skin. More specifically, anything that was/is "pro white" is automatically "anti black" because by definition, "white" was created to illustrate the alleged disparity between the two races. 

So, when I hear "pro white", I instantly think "hatred, oppression, rape, genocide and slavery". "Pro black" on the other hand, refers to the uplift and celebration of people of the African diaspora; it reaffirms that our culture and we as people are beautiful, even when we were told otherwise for the last few centuries. "Pro black" is simply trying to combat and undo everything "pro white" has been doing for the last 400 years.

Here... Let's do a quick exercise to drive home the point here:

1) Black Cultural Center is to the Harlem Renaissance as White Cultural Center is to Where Else and/or the Neon Cactus

2) The National Museum of African American History is to the Civil Rights Movement as the National Museum of White History (whatever the fuck that is) is to chattel slavery 

3) The National Society of Black Engineers is to Garrett Morgan as The National Society of White Engineers is to every other engineering society on Purdue's campus

More examples will be posted on Blackboard

Again, this is not an attack on white people. Be proud of where you came from. Brilliant scientists, musicians, authors, and athletes came from Europe. If you wanna be Pro-Italian, go for it. Pro-Russian, sure. Pro-German, why not. But lets not try and act like Pro White means the same for white people as Pro Black means for black people.

~Adam w.~