Monday, March 16, 2009

Boycott Black History Month

Yeah, I said it. Now, just hear me out...

As I was attending my school's [Black History Month Program], I couldn't help but wonder, "what are we REALLY doing?" I mean, I'm a Stolen African who finds pride in his heritage as much as the next Stolen African. I am sure to include the contributions of ALL Americans when I teach my class (6th grade Social Studies/Math) and in raising my son. I often discuss topics on what's hurting our communities and ways to improve them and welcome knowledge from all sources on issues facing "my people". I do this ALL YEAR LONG...don't you? If this is the case, then by continuing to celebrate [Black History Month] only in February and then have the audacity to complain that it's the "shortest month" is preposterous! We (many African-Americans) perpetuate the tradition of "only" celebrating the contributions of "our people" during a 28 day cycle. What's the purpose?
If the purpose of [Black History Month] is to educate those who may not be aware of all the wonderful contributions of those who lack euro-centric heritage, then why are "we" keeping the celebrations to ourselves? It seems to me that a better plan of implementation would be to not have [Black History Programs] at predominately black schools, churches, community centers, BET, etc., but to "take our show on the road" so to speak. I've often wondered how can many "majority schools" celebrate [Black History Month] as thoroughly as "we" do if, in fact, many of the "majority" institutions lack the knowledge of the major contributions of "colored people"? The more informed on the subject should take this opportunity to educate the less informed...shouldn't they?
And is it just me or doesn't it feel as if by celebrating [Black History Month] we're, in a way, saying that "our" history needs to be put on a pedestal and held up so it can "seem" as important as [Non-Black History]? Almost like what many who are against affirmative action feel. If you were REALLY qualified, you'd be able to compete with no "assistance"... You're probably needed to just fill a quota. If it were really important, it wouldn't be confined to a month. We get information all the time about great Americans on TV, in film, and in our schools' text books. Many fought long and hard to gain the full rights as American citizens. Not the right to start "our own schools" but the right to go to school where we please. Not the right to start our own restaurants but the right to enjoy a meal where ever we like. Don't these rights not extend in the chronicling of our history?

The solution:
I suggest we start what I like to call [The Day One Program] in predominantly African-American schools (and any other socially stratified school that would like to participate). In late summer, when schools start, we should start planning with the students and faculty our [Truth Telling Ceremony]. These [TTC]s will replace Black History Programs with an accurate account of what REALLY happened to Stolen Africans in this country. These ceremonies should be designed to inform all who attend of the wonderful contributions of African-Americans in spite of great opposition by the powers that be not only in the United States but to the entire world. If we do this at the beginning of the year, the students will be able to accurately interpret the other information they will be taught throughout the rest of the school year and know the importance of the contributions of Stolen Africans to the world.

I'm Thed Weller and I approve this message.


Thed Weller said...

jay mac...thanks for the suggestion on "when" to publish this one:-)!

Josh Buckner said...

I see an analogy with the efforts of Jewish-Americans to educate kids about the Holocaust. Those lessons definitely left an impression on me as a kid, though it felt like somebody else's history. Black history is distinctly American history, but as a kid I felt like it was somebody else's history too. So I think you have the problem pinned down.

What if Black History Month isn't meant to be a permanent thing? What if its purpose is to get EDUCATORS on board with the idea of integrating more perspectives into all of their lessons. Then maybe the kids like me wouldn't feel like it's "somebody else's" history.

Thed Weller said...

@josh buckner
I believe you're right...the similarity between the history of Jewish-Americans is an excellent point! I think it make be "some what" of a [backwards hustle] to keep it permanent.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, bur even as a kid growing up in a predominantly black school system, I really became objective to the idea of celebrating "Black History Month" after a few years. I think around my 6th or 7th grade year I began to question why it was really necessary. Maybe it was due to the fact that outside of the classroom is where I learned about black history. Maybe it was because my parents didn't feel the need to make february that big of a deal and taught me things throughout the year. Whatever the case, it's left me feeling the same as this post. I don't the point of it anymore. I mean I honestly am thankful for it--due to the fact it's the only time some people get SOME black education. But that then raises the question as to why is it just that month, right? If only February is black history month the the remaining 337 (or 338) days and months are "others" history. Which raises even more questions. I don't like it because it leaves all of us--white, black, and everything in between--feeling a need to put certain instances on a pedestal and some not.

free byrd said...

Hmmm. Is it necessary to have one or the other instead of both options? I would like for children to learn about more than the usual suspects too.

Blaq Angel...Mr. Johnson to you. said...

In elementary school, all we read about was Richard Allen and harriet Tubman.. this gets old after a while. And I was at a black school...some white faculty, but a predominantly black school. Even then, I didn't learn about Malcolm X until I was about to graduate. The point - even WE taint our own history. My people decided that somehow, the "Malcolm X" section of black history didn't sit well most black folk, especially here in the black belt.

So, Thed (Mr. teacher), since I haven't been in public school since 1990 - what's the current HISTORY situation like? Does it include BLACK history (which is why the month was instituted initially)? Is there still a need to celebrate the month - I mean, does our current curriculum reflect complete, honest history of all cultured?

the boss hog said...

My daughter (who is 7) came home and asked me. "Daddy, why do white ppl hate black ppl?" Thru further examination, I found out that she got that impression from a balck history video about "bloody sunday". I'm sure we all can agree that "Bloody Sunday" is a bit much for a 7 yr old mind to digest. At that age I would prefer that they concentrate on the accomplishments of great black americans and not try to deal w/ racism. But I want to address on thing that you said in the post that I thought was interesting:

Thed said, "Many fought long and hard to gain the full rights as American citizens. Not the right to start "our own schools" but the right to go to school where we please. Not the right to start our own restaurants but the right to enjoy a meal where ever we like."

That's very true, but who REALLY profits from this? I mean who REALLY benefited from desegregation? If you watch the NCAA tournament, and observe the demographics of the athletes competing, it would be difficult to distiguish a HBCU from a historically white college, but the truth is very few HBCUs are competing and as a result will not reap the financial rewards. White institutions will receive these funds and use them to educate mostly young white Americans because of the talents and hard work of young black athletes. Was this the intention of those that fought, bled and died for our civil rights? Well it is unarguably the result.

Like I've said before Booker T Washington was called a "sellout" "uncle Tom" and everything else, in part because of what some call "the Atlanta compromise" speech, but he wanted black ppl to work for black ppl so that black ppl could reap the benefits of their own labors. Things would be soooo different if we had not been so short sighted. In so many ways, he was right Dr Duboise was wrong.

Thed Weller said...

@Boss Hog
welcome back.
I think that "we" tend to get caught up in trying to make "black" dollars and not simply "dollars" in gereral. I'm in no way suggesting that "we" shouldn't start our on and support our own...but I'm reminded of a famous bank robber who was asked , "why do you rob banks?" his reply was, "because that's where the money is." The point is that our society is aleady set up the way it is. Change is an animal that has a long gestation period and an even slower birth. And as far as the NCAA tourny goes...this is a machine that "they" have set up to make money for them from as many people as possible, be they white, black, or other. if making money from college atheletics is the "goal" then HBCU's should try and build a machine designed for that task. Because of the "rights" that many fought for, our atheletes can attend college where "they" there no value in that? Should Black students only want to play for HBCU's? Is that a better answer?

Most college athelets will no ever play professional sports so many of them will depend on the stregnth of thier degree to earn a living. The fact is that many employers, (right or wrong) look at a degree from Duke University a little differently than say a degree from Alabama State. Since those are the rules of the current society in which we live...sometimes if you can't beat them, join them.
sometimes instead of "re-inventing" the wheel, we can just figure out how to make it roll in the direcion we need to get to where we're trying to go.

Thed Weller said...

@Free Byrd
doing both could be an option...i guess. just seems that [black history month] has become more of a gesture than anthing else for many...but it's better than nothing...i guess.

Blaq Angel...Mr. Johnson to you. said...

@ Thed....overall yes, it's better than NOTHING. I guess we get to keep BHM after all, huh?

Thed Weller said...

i know realistically we can't "cancel" BHM...just explaining why we should "boycott" it...or atleast why I'm going to.

the boss hog said...

"as far as the NCAA tourny goes...this is a machine that "they" have set up to make money for them from as many people as possible, be they white, black, or other. if making money from college atheletics is the "goal" then HBCU's should try and build a machine designed for that task."

That's in part my point, but this is such a unique situation because (to stay w/ your example) AL state is having a hard time competing against Duke for talent that just so happens to be young black men for the most part. We've convinced ourselves that "they" can help "us" succeed better than "we" can. Your point about making dollars period is what convinced the powers to be(in my opinion)to go along w/ integration. Some one finally woke up and realized the money in black ppls pockets was green too, but as far as college athletics is concerned, we all know that most of these student athletes won't play pro ball, but some of them would like to coach or pursue fron office positions after their playing careers are over. Would they be given the same opportunities at a white institutions when it time to select candidates to fill admin positions? My problem with it is the exploitation that's taking place and although some might look at a degree from a HBCU differently than a white institution, look at the graduation rates of black student athletes at HBCUs vs white institutions. The consensus among those in authority is "run nigger run, but when you can't run anymore go back to the ghetto." I have a problem with that.

Thed Weller said...

@the boss hog
yeah, we all have a problem with that...but, that's he way i is. everybody is trying to make it the best way they know how. take a great college athele that happens to be a person of color. (especially if they've got the scholastics to go with it)...they are faced with a choice between doing what's best for their atheletic career or their scholastic career. Duke U is a powerhouse either way. is it wrong for this young brother to play for Duke?

I think "we'd" be well served if we found a way to make it from whrere we are now and not just complain about how "unfair" the system is. we all know that it's not what? we all go to HBCUs from here on out? we all only shop with black owned establishments? is that the move? i'm not sayin that it's not, i'm asking what's a possible answer for "us" surviving in this society?

the boss hog said...

Thed I am absolutely shocked at you!! That's just the way it is? What happened to the "yes we can" attitude? Did you say "that's the way it is" when we talked about tax policy? how about healthcare? No, we're supposed to be about "change" right?

All I'm saying is that "we" need to do alot more to support "our" institutions. That doesn't mean we have to "only" attend black colleges, but a black athlete should take into account the exploitation that takes place when making that choice of which school to attend. If a black man is willing to participate in that, then miss me with that nonsense,talking about racism and how "the man" is holding you back. I call it a "give a dog a bone" mentality. We're too busy wanting to take part in what someone else is doing to support,grow and develop what we have. In the state of Alabama, if you want to be an educator, Alabama State University can prepare you for that career path just as well if not better than any other college in this state. Alabama State is on the cutting edge of nanotechnology research thanks in part to a multi million dollar grant secured by Sen. Richard Shebly who just so happens to be a republican (I thought republicans didn't like black ppl?). I would also like to add that the professor heading up the program
(Dr. Shree R. Singh) is also a graduate of ASU and he just so happens to not be a black man. Now it's amazing to me how a non black can see this kind of value in one of "our" institutions that the majority of "us" seem to ignore. I remember when I decided to go to ASU, some ppl told me that I should go to Alabama and none of them could give me a legitimate reason. Maybe it's b/c UA's ice is colder. My point is most HBCUs have GREAT educational programs just like some of the majority schools, but society won't acknowledge them b/c "we" don't even acknowledge it ourselves. How do you expect a white man to think we're good enough when "we" don't even believe we are? The truth is, if given the same attention, our grass is just as green an plush, but we're too busy cutting and cultivating somebody else's.

Thed Weller said...

@the boss hog
Temporary response in mid flight... For the record... "there is NOTHING wrong with attending Alabama State or any other GBCU....period".

Also, I'm not saying that "change" isn't needed...(this entire blog entry is about changing something for the better, is it not?). All I'm saying is that over-all, there are still instances that men get paid more than women to do the same job. There are people that don't get hired because of or lack there of certain "credentials". There are many people (on the economic top & bottom" that "game" the system...that is how it is...that's just a fact. I'm not saying we can't change that either, I'm simply stating the obvious. So...before the plane takes off and I've got to turn the blackberry off, what was "your suggestion for the solution" to to problem?

Thed Weller said...

HBCU & not GBCU...blkberry typo;-(

the boss hog said...

My solution is general, but very simple. Like I said in the previous post, we need to support HBCUs more than we do and encourage others to do the same. That support should come in whatever capacity your individual abilites allow. We should then encourage our young ppl to at least consider what some of the HBCUs have to offer in there chosen fields of study. Our "talented tenth" are not encouraged to go to HBCUs by "us" and use their talents to, in part, support "our" causes. I'll give one athletic example: Duece McAllister attended Ole Miss who is known for flying the confederate flag among other racist traditions. Mr McAllister went to the NFL and a few years ago, made a multimillion dollar donation to Ole Miss. Now, I'm not a socialist so I won't tell Duece how to spend the money that HE earned, but Alcorn St, Missisppi Valley St, and Tougaloo College are HBCUs that are focused on training the minds of young black men and women like himself in that State and have much greater needs to be met for the sake of "us". What if he had attended an HBCU like Steve McNair, Jerry Rice and some his other MS raised counterparts? Chances are an HBCU would've been the recipient of his urge to give. Hopefully out of my ignorance, I just don't know that he's given exponentially more to these schools than to Ole Miss, but I think you get my point. Instead of encouraging these talented athletes and scholars to attend our schools and then use their talents for the good of these schools after they move on, we'd rather fight for affirmitive action, etc. and try to make white america do for us what we don't do for ourselves. Like Booker T Washington said, we should "cast down our buckets where we are".

the boss hog said...

If that doesn't work, maybe congress can pass a 90% tax on the contributions made by blacks to white institutions and earmark those funds for use at HBCUs. Let's see if it works on TARP recipients and go from there. LOL!!!

Hummingbird said...

I think that your point is well stated and I personally would want my children in their white schools to learn about what was stolen from you even if it was only for one day a month. Black history is American history, One month out of the year? Not enough. I also have a basic problem with the textbooks that are used because they excluded your history.

Still this is easier talked about than you well know. But good dialogue for change. I say "Yes we can." How about you?

Thed Weller said...

@hummingbird thanx for chiming in;-) is easier said than done, like most things worth accomplishing...but, i, too, feel that "yes, we can."