Will critical battles over race theory make this month the last month in Black History?

There, I was in third grade on stage in front of the whole school, wearing a tank top, sweatpants, and boxing gloves. I can’t remember ...



There, I was in third grade on stage in front of the whole school, wearing a tank top, sweatpants, and boxing gloves. I can’t remember my speech now, but a few weeks before that day, I recorded it on a boombox radio and played it on loop to help me memorize it. I threw a few punches to mark the end of the speech.

A year before, I was on the same stage in my church garb, holding a gavel explaining how I became the first black man on the Supreme Court.

It was an annual ritual at Bunker Hill Elementary School during Black History Month. The students didn’t just hear about the heroism of black people who looked like them, we have to be them. But that was in the 1980s, when all my teachers looked like members of my family. Back when America finally got rid of tear gas in the 60s and 70s. Before white supremacists started carrying tiki torches shouting, “You won’t replace us.”

There is currently an attack on America’s history by domestic terrorists who cannot bear the terrible truth that the ancestors of this country robbed, beat, sold, raped and killed black people. There is a collective cognitive dissonance in the narrative of America’s past by some white people who no longer want to be tied to this country’s history.

These people have bastardized “critical race theory” to the point that the original meaning is lost. The CRT aimed to examine how systemic racism was not just holding black people back, it was keeping them in the starting blocks. And this isn’t a conspiracy theory-based rant about malt liquor companies targeting black neighborhoods (though that’s also part of it), CRT examines how every aspect of black life, from the air we breathe, how we cash, to the neighborhoods where we live, was directly affected by racism.

There have been countless studies, federal bills and more studies who prove it. But that doesn’t matter because attempts to include race and, subsequently, the effects of systemic racism in the discussion of American history have crossed a tenet of white Americana: “Whatever you do, don’t offend white supremacists.

So, we come here today to send Black History Month into the big by and by. Because even though Black History Month isn’t dead, it’s on its last leg. But whatever Black History Month does, it better not get on its knees.

So imagine, if we will, that this is the last Black History Month; what do we lose?

We would lose all the work started by Carter G. Woodson 1926 during Black History Week – which would later become Black History Month – was created. And I know all the jokes about BHM being recognized in the shortest month of the year, but Woodson chose February because it held the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14) , two of the pillars of the abolitionist movement.

“I would only expect America to continue to drink from the well of black invention without ever acknowledging the person behind it.”

We would lose Crispus Attucks, WEB Du Bois, Shirley Chisholm and Sojourner Truth, names that only get their blossoms during this time, names that I don’t believe would be brought up without a month of celebration behind the work they have do. We would lose the inventions of George Crum. Oh, you don’t know George Crum? Well, he only invented potato chips. We lose ice cream and popsicles. While Frederick McKinley Jones didn’t create the tasty treats, he’s responsible for the refrigerated air cooling units in the trucks that carry them. We would lose Mrs. CJ Walker and all his contributions to black hair.

Because I don’t trust America to care enough about these people to give them what is rightfully theirs in the context of American history; I would only expect America to continue to drink from the well of black invention without ever recognizing the person behind it. You see, America has this thing of taking black excellence and bringing it closer to whiteness to make it more palatable. Granville T. Woods would hold over 50 patents and become the first black mechanical and electrical engineer. His work would revolutionize the railway industry, and in 1885 he patented a device called a “telegraph”, which would allow users to send voice and telegraph messages via Morse code. Woods even had a nickname given to him by people who thought he was a genius – they called him “Black Edison”. Yes, that’s right, he was the black version of Thomas Edison. Edison could also have had a nickname. He could have been called “White Latimer”, since the inventor received considerable help from his Black Apprentice, Lewis Latimer. But America would never have it that way.

But that’s what Black History Month is all about; to unearth these stories to show generations of children that their heritage is rooted in creation. So it can be seen that they are also part of the collective American dream and their lineage is woven into the fabric of America. I wouldn’t put these stories in the hands of teachers without a designated month, but who are we kidding?

As things stand, black voting rights are currently under attack, Colin Kaepernick is still homeless in the NFL for protesting the killing of unarmed black men, women and children by police (still happening), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also doesn’t believe black people are American.

And I know the marketing of Black History Month and paid lip service by companies that barely employ, spend nominal advertising dollars with, or even care for black people (looking at you, Facebook) sounds patronizing, but that’s what happens when a well-meaning month is scoffed at by corporations. But that’s to be expected; businesses go to business.

So we may have to say goodbye to this month that reminds the rest of America of all the contributions black people have made to this country despite being treated like trespassers. The month that asked America to look at what grew from the seeds the country had abandoned. It was the month that allowed schools that had no intention of teaching black history to hang the crumpled poster of Martin Luther King Jr. and deliver his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. . And that’s important. Black children need to see themselves in the people who came before them. While I grew up in Chocolate City — where almost all of my teachers were black until I went to college — most black kids can go through their entire school years without a black teacher.

Why is this important? Good, a study found that Black students who have at least one black teacher — just one — are more likely to go to college.

But remember, I didn’t say I played Thurgood Marshall and Muhammad Ali – I said I was Thurgood Marshall and Muhammad Ali, and it matters. It must.

Because for black kids to be someone, they need to see someone. They need to know that their history matters, even if the CRT fights forever jeopardize Black History Month.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Will critical battles over race theory make this month the last month in Black History?
Will critical battles over race theory make this month the last month in Black History?
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