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Black History more than a month

by Tori Pittman

As Black History month comes to yet another close, I take a moment to reflect and question some things. Why is it that Black History Month falls on the shortest month of every year? Not to mention Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day and President’s Day overshadow it. Hispanic Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month fall on months that have 31 and 30 days, but even they don’t get that much attention because Halloween, Columbus Day, Election Day and Thanksgiving tend to dominate.

Black History should be everyday history. It’s something that needs to be taught everyday so that our children can pass it to their children. History books in school only teach but so much, and who’s to say that they’re accurate? Only we as African-Americans know that history in its entirety. The sad thing is that a lot of blacks in my generation (not all, but most) seem to lack the knowledge of what their ancestors went through.

The history itself roots back to Africa.

We didn’t ask to come to this country. We were brought here on a ship. Working on the fields everyday from sunrise to sunset. The blood on their hands and sweat from the work they’ve done, along with the tears in hopes that things will get better. Even with the amendment passed to abolish slavery and Lincoln presenting the Emancipation Proclamation, freedom didn’t really go in our favor.

Then came the Jim Crow Laws. The separate but equal displayed everywhere as they had the “whites only” and “no colored” signs in all public places. Then you have those who want to paint their faces with dark makeup and red lips to degrade us. Also the notorious “N” word as well the other names of pick-a-ninny, mammy, Uncle Tom, jig-a-boo, coon and a host of others. In the southern states, countless lynchings and senseless beatings painted America red with blood. It took the story of Emmitt Till to be the last straw and for the Civil Rights Movement to begin.

Public figures such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks paved the way. But let’s not forget during the times of slavery, Harriet Tubman made history with the Underground Railroad. There were also abolitionists who campaigned for freedom like Frederick Douglass. Let us recognize the “Greensboro Four” who began the lunch counter sit-in movement that rapidly grew in other states.

While some led peaceful marches and protests, there are those who wanted to be heard in another approach. Black Panthers, as well as another known figure, Malcolm X, were speaking out of how we needed to protect ourselves. They went on about how we needed to take a stand. That the color of our skin means so much more than what society depicted us to be. We aren’t inferior, black is beautiful and we needed to make our presence known by any means necessary.

Our history paints such a colorful portrait of how much we have overcome, there seems to be shades of gray about how it affects this newer generation. How much do they know about their history? Ignorance is truly bliss when our generation seems to idolize celebrities and not our historical figures. Even in music, we went from speaking about social issues and fighting the power, to getting rich, violence, and what affiliation or gang you banging. If you ask them who a certain person is, they’ll only give you half answers. That’s where the real problem lies. Then you have those who want to change the color of their skin and not accept what was given to them. Like for example, in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the main character Pecola Breedlove thinks she is ugly and wants blue eyes and white skin in order to be accepted in society.

Black History, again I say, should be everyday history. We should all learn the good, bad and the ugly of it. We shouldn’t speak partially the history, but we should tell all of it. That way we know that we are a strong and beautiful race. We continue to endure and multiply. We are actually African kings and queens if we can reach within ourselves to bring that vision to life, instead of accepting what society tells us.

We as a black community still have a lot of work to do. While we continue to strive and survive here in America, we need to love one another instead of hating one another. We need to stand together instead of killing each other. Too many of ours are dying young and being locked up. Too many of us are shying away instead of researching and finding out the truth. We need to be proud instead of being ashamed.

My black history doesn’t stop when February ends. It’s everyday. And I’m proud. !

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