Not long after this is written, February 2016 will be History, and so will be “Black History Month” for this year. The shortest month of the year will be over. It is possibly the month that experiences the most weather cancellations of planned events. Those things considered, it is likely the period of time that our learning will once again be deferred. But because this is Leap Year, we got an extra hour!
There is a tendency, or perhaps I must call it a trend, to look upon the end of February as a justifiable reason for an 11-month hibernation from Black History. I would suggest the opposite. I would suggest looking to March as the opportunity to March forth toward a new mindset, elevating Black History to the level of “American” History, jarring it from its normal state of denial, exclusion, misrepresentation and ultimate dysfunction.
Of course Black History is a part of American History, and some would suggest that because of this reality, celebrations that focus on Black History should not be. Please forgive me, but another reality is that the teachings of American History fail miserably the test of inclusion, and in fact there have been many (and recent) attempts to expel from History Books the realities that sometimes make America uncomfortable. I would suggest that now is NOT the time to pause, but the time to multiple our efforts at passionately telling the American story with the truth that has for so long been hidden, distorted, ignored, watered down, maligned and misinterpreted. Truth crushed to the earth shall rise again, but much more quickly if we will make it, share it, promote it, and be proud of it.
There is no reason to believe or expect that 400 years of misrepresentation will suddenly give way to a future of objective recording, reporting and reinforcing. This is especially true if at the end of February, we return the pen and the podium back to the same people, processes, and institutions that caused us to need Black History Month in the first place.
Many years ago I attended a Cleveland area event that celebrated Black Males. One of the award recipients was Dr. Julian Earls, now a retired Director of NASA Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Those who know Dr. Earls, know that he has the ability to speak faster than a speeding bullet, and deliver messages that are clear as crystal. But he kept it short and simple with these impactful words; “If ANYONE should write my life story let it be me.” We are responsible for our own stories. If we leave it to others to live and promote and share and celebrate our stories, the results will almost always be void of the realities and fall short of the possibilities
We need more authors, speakers, publishers, and OH YES, more readers and attentive listeners. We need a generation that knows as much about their ancestors, themselves, and the boy and girl next door as they do about Television’s Scandal. OOPS, sorry; I know I may have the lost some folks, but I need to keep it real.
If you have good news, then “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.” If you don’t want to do that, at least tell us, and we will attempt to share it.