Why Its Important
an essay directed at all Americans, not a single culture or race
Every year, I am blessed with having to hear all kinds of bullshit explanations for why Black History Month exists. Black History Month isnt supposed to be about making white people feel guilty nor is it supposed to be about excluding other races (yes, Im talking to those blacks who made some very shameful choices at the Black Expo last year. I heard that some black people attacked white people for trying to take part in the festivities utterly stupid. How can other cultures learn to accept us if we dont let them participate?). Its also not about blacks having a holiday so well shut up (I heard this one last year. A very vulgar comment from a very vulgar person, no doubt.). Its not about blacks thinking theyre more special than other races (this is the most childish accusation Ive yet to hear. Because I happen to be black myself, if you havent guessed, and I believe that all of American History is important not just Black History). Its not about putting minorities on a pedestal or pointing a finger of blame. Nor is it simply about struggling to barbeque in the winter because no one wanted crazzzzzzzzy black people running around acting like fools (something quite difficult to do in cities with heavy snowfall).
No, Black History Month is supposed to be about learning about another culture and with that understanding, diminishing hatred.
The whole point of learning about our past is to make our future brighter. Without knowing where weve been, how can we know where were going? It is amazingly stupid that schools overlook Black History Month amazingly (and here Im speaking from my own experience. I dont know about schools today). Because so long as ignorance is allowed to continue, so is hatred. People never like what they dont understand and as a result, their ignorance turns to hatred, their hatred turns to violence, their violence turns to utter war and by the time were standing in the ruins, were wondering how the hell we got there and why it happened. Because we were ignorant. Not only that but because we chose to be ignorant, and as a result, we suffered the consequences.
Now, theres nothing wrong with being ignorant in the first place we cant come into this world knowing everything there is to know. But when we choose to remain ignorant is when we stifle our potential to move forward as one race as the human race a complete whole rather than several wholes constantly bickering and feuding over things as obtuse as our favorite foods: hating someone for liking chicken and watermelon is almost twice as stupid as believing that an entire race predominantly likes the food (and as a side note, I like chicken just fine as well as pork, fish, and beef -- but I utterly loathe watermelon).
Not only do people choose to be ignorant (out of sheer apathy, their opinionated minds, or their arrogance) but theres also the fact that the truth is always by far uglier than lies. Lies have a way of being very pretty and besides, who wants to hear that their African ancestors were sold as prisoners of war by their own people into slavery who wants to hear that white men (the ancestors of blacks as well) chained these captured Africans in their own feces and vomit, whipped them until the bones stood out in their backs, raped them, and threw them overboard for the sharks to eat? Who wants to hear these things? And whats the point of hearing them?
The point is this: these people (both the whites and the blacks and the Native Americans) lived in a time period where in reality no one was free. We have a freedom now that is unbelievable compared to what these people had, and the only way to insure that freedom continues is to look back and remember what it meant not to have freedom at all. Because in the end, the moment you take something for granted is usually about the moment that you lose it.
Black History Month is about stopping the cycle of hatred in its tracks so that things like segregation, discrimination, and senseless violence dont happen again not just to black people but to any community any race, religion, or people of a largely unaccepted sexual orientation. The only way to stop hatred is to understand its consequences. The only way to stop hatred is to beat ignorance with a hammer until it lays down and stays down (although it really never shall permanently). And Im not just talking about hatred between difference races. Im talking about the hatred that we may have for ourselves.
So the next time you decide to hate somebody because of their race, their sex, their religion, their sexual orientation, go out and learn something about them through experience, not through what you hear. And then go learn what it really means to hate someone go out and learn what horrors have occurred in the past, what lives have been wasted, what blood has been shed. And then take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself . . . Do I have the right to cast the first stone? If you answered yes, allow that you harbor an extreme case of narcissism.
As a last observation, it is not white to value education, it is wise, and choosing to remain ignorant is the true core of stupidity.