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Why I Hate Black History Month

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Am I a traitor for disliking the month that celebrates us?

Booker T. Washington, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks

Kimberly Seals Allers: It's Black History Month.

As a black woman, I'm delighted to see my history celebrated and acknowledged.But as a mom, it continues to be one heck of a frustrating month. In fact, I've grown to hate Black History Month, because inevitably one of my children will come home with an absolutely incorrect "fact" imparted by a well-meaning-but-not-too-thoroughly-prepared teacher.

For example, one year, my daughter, Kayla, came home after seeing the Black History Month play at her mostly white private school. I asked her what she had learned from the play. Her response? "That slaves stole things, and they didn't know how to read or write." HUH?!

My correction? "
Slaves weren'tallowed to read or write; they would have been killed for it." Big difference!

Another year brought yet another assignment to write about slavery or how Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Needless to say, we did something else.

Attention teachers, principals and all educators in any teaching role imaginable:"Black history" is about more than just slavery. So if you are going to teach black history, please don't just talk about the parts that you feel most guilty about, the parts that come readily to mind or the parts that you yourself were taught in school decades ago.

Now, I fully understand that Black History Month was scheduled to take place in February because that was the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln (who freed the slaves) and Frederick Douglass (a leading abolitionist who helped slaves escape via the "Underground Railroad").

However, there are a host of other people and periods that could be discussed during Black History Month -- such as the Civil War, Reconstruction or the amazingly powerful Harlem Renaissance.

Consider discussing people like Madam C.J. Walker, the first black millionaire. Or Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court. Or Ralph Bunche, the first African- American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Or the time when Harlem became the hotbed of black intellectualism, art, music and culture.

Better yet, take a look at our rich African heritage. Any good online encyclopedia will tell you that the historical roots of black slaves in the United States can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of Mali, Ghana and Songhai in Central and West Africa. These kingdoms were rich in art, literature and music -- a historical reality that was purposely suppressed to support the pro-slavery moral position that was necessary in order to convince the world that blacks were less than human. This is a truth that must be taught.

Please do not create more work for me by making me correct your history mistakes. (Quite frankly, I have enough to do.)I've spent years -- and earned multiple degrees -- studying your [white] history, so please take a few moments to get black history correct.

I should not have to send my children to the Benjamin Banneker/Malcolm X/Betty Shabazz/Booker T. Washington School for them to have an accurate Black History Month experience. (I won't even begin to expound on why African-American history isn't taught more all year 'round.)

I'm hoping that every year more and more teachers will get the point: Our history as black Americans is as integral to this country as the history of any other group. Maybe one year soon, I can scratch "correct Black-History-Month errors" off my February to-do list.


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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
th February 18, 2010, 11:56 AM

you get a lot of flack for writing about african americans non stop. I think its ridiculous. If people dont like your writings then ohhhh well! I loved this article amd you are absolutely correct, schools usually only spend feb with black history. Most of that history is about slavery. I mean really? Is there nothing else we can talk about? I’m sure our kids get the point after they learned it in 1st, 2nd, 3rd 4th 5th and 6th grades. I for one thank you for your race blogs, after all you are only writing what a lot of others are thinking. And i love to see how uptight and crazy people get over your blogs. Makes for a great mid-day laugh! ha-ha

Kristin February 18, 2010, 11:56 AM

I hear you. I’m white but I’ve noticed a lot of what you’re talking about too. Not to mention, as I went through school (public, in case it matters to someone) I noticed that EVERYBODY (including the black students) got more and more bored with Black History Month because it was the SAME information drilled into us every year. It was NEVER about black inventors or millionaires or anything like that. ALWAYS slavery. ALWAYS Martin L. King Jr. ALWAYS the same information from kindergarten to graduation! People began to hate Feb because we knew it would be more of the same stuff over and over. I like the idea of dedicating months to things but if it will be the same all the time, we’re not learning anything except how to regurgitate the same facts over and over and we’re CERTAINLY not honoring anyone! Know what I mean?

Tony February 18, 2010, 2:48 PM

Sad to say for many many years blacks have been use, crap on, mistreated by the white man. Its such a shame what they went thu. I’m white and I have a few black friends and there much better than some white people I know.
God bless the black people in our world…

Jenni February 18, 2010, 3:19 PM

I agree with teachers repeating the same information over and over again. In high school I had the best teacher who honestly dedicated Black History Month to really showing us what African Americans were able to accomplish. We learned what inventions came about through African Americans, their accomplishments outside of slavery, their roles in war time, and so much more. I retained more information from that class than the YEARS spent on repeating the same info.

Sasha February 18, 2010, 10:21 PM

I agree! First of all, the shortest month of the year is chosen. Second, it’s a lame excuse to apease masses of people from asking for reperations for slavery seriously. Third, it should be all year round. And LOYALTY? SCREW GROUP LOYALTY! Deal with people as individuals, not groups-even our grandparents said “Ain’t nothing worse than a crowd.”

Gayle February 19, 2010, 6:06 AM

Not to be disrespectful, but I’m a black woman who work in a school and every year I see the same people displayed every February. People do not spotlight current contributions like the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams and the current one, or the first black man who played in the NHL, Willie O’ Ree, or Shonda Rhimes, who is the executive producer or Gray’s Ananotmy and various other televison shows. Or authors like Lee Daniels, or E. Lynn Harris or actors like Terrance Howard or Mo’nique. The modern people who are still living should be also celebrated too as well as the people who stood on their shoulders who got them there.

Kiwi February 19, 2010, 7:17 PM

I’m not black nor American, but I know how those pointed difference can be disturbing. I never had any kind of racism but racism made me really uncomfortable in my childhood. A full month ? That’s surely way too much, imo, and doesn’t change anything. Racism fight is an everyday work not a monument.

lainey February 20, 2010, 8:19 AM

lol-I agree 100%-it’s not that I hate the month, I can’t stand the teachings in the schools about it. My daughter is 3 getting ready to start an all white private school next year and all I can think is d@#n! As a mother whatever hurt you growing up is bound to hurt your child and it feels like d@#n all over again. So next year at her new school come February I plan to volunteer, pray,*correct and show some decorum* and pray some more.

Nancy February 22, 2010, 10:45 AM

It does give you another reason to BASH the WHITE MAN……………….Start to take responsiblies for your own actions. Go to the school board and discuss your issue, oh thats right you are so busy but you do find time to bash the white man………..give me a break!

Black by Popular Demand March 4, 2010, 8:00 AM

I posted a comment on yesterday that contained information to help black people learn about their history via You Tube and books. Where is it?
Or, don’t you accept intelligent responses to covert racist articles?

Rational May 7, 2010, 1:34 AM

Only blacks could come up with a way to complain about an entire month devotes to honoring their achievements.

Nice racist rant, tnb.

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People are never happy  October 22, 2010, 11:45 AM

I am a teacher and I am offended that you would say we teach slavery because thats the part we feel guilty about. I do not feel guilty at all. I didn’t own slaves nor was I even around during that time. I have sympathy for all types of races and gender who have been discriminated against. Women, Italians, Jews, Blacks and so on. I find it ammusing that you all are complaining that February is the shortest month when Italian Americans came over here and contributed to this country along with many other races. Women also suffered greatly and contrubuted. What is unfair is that blacks get a month and no other race gets a month. I refuse to teach African American history and will continue to do so until all races are honored. Maybe you all should open your eyes, you are not the only race who has suffered.

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