Our View: Black History Month needed, but it shouldn’t be

Our View

In short: Setting aside one month for one culture is not ideal, but it’s much better than forgetting.

It’s almost sad that we need Black History Month.

The month has its critics. Some say it excludes other cultures. Some say there should be a month for every culture. Some say there should be no specific months to celebrate specific cultures. Every group has its point.

The advantage of dedicating an entire month to black history is that it makes sure that people who might not otherwise hear about the contributions of people like George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass get to learn. It brings elements of history that are not as widely taught in certain parts of the country to the forefront for 28 or 29 days a year.

The disadvantage is that it boxes that history in. The work of abolitionists and civil rights leaders is not just “black history. Rather, it’s American history. By isolating this knowledge into one month, we may be creating an incentive to ignore it the other 11 months of the year. It becomes almost as if we are living in two different societies: one predominantly white, which runs from March 1 to Jan. 30, and one black, which takes up the remaining 8 percent of the year.

This separation makes it easier for teachers to ignore the contributions of African-Americans when they come up in the course of normal history lectures. If they are talked about in February, there is no need to repeat them and indicate their influence on the normal course of events that shaped our nation. We are unable to see the context in which they acted and we are also unable to see the effect it had on the rest of the nation.

People like Martin Luther King Jr. never acted as if their actions were taking place in a bubble. Their actions shouldn’t be remembered in that way. Black history is American history and it should be treated as such.

The only way to properly replace Black History Month would be to ensure that history does not just reflect one culture. Too often it’s easiest to emphasize the history of the dominant culture and brush off the history of others as less significant, less interesting or less important.

Black History Month is needed because without it some parts of history may be forgotten by some people. If the history of all Americans, rich and poor, all races, all religions, all sexual orientations, were embraced fairly to demonstrate the way all Americans have contributed to the society we have now, then we might not need to single anything specifically out to be remembered.

Unfortunately, we’re still working towards that goal, and we still need to remind ourselves not to forget anyone’s history.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.