Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Black History Month

I was reminded via e-mail that February is black history month.  A regular reader was astonished to find that I had not done the obligatory celebration post and instead posted what they deemed nonsense.  Apparently this is a glaring omission on a blog that regularly deals with race. 

The omission was quite purposeful on my part.  At no time throughout the month will you find a post especially dedicated to the celebration of Black History month.  I will continue to discuss race and the ways in which it intersects with all of the isms however, celebrating a false feel good month is not my idea of treating Blacks as equals in society.

Black History month gives people an excuse to claim tolerance and understanding without doing any real work to change the ways in which the races interact.  For a brief 28 days of 365 that make up a year, people will briefly acknowledge the contributions of blacks and then return to privileging whiteness in every single social institution.  Even while we are in the middle of said celebration, whites continue to complain about how racist Black History month is.  “Imagine if you had a white month”, is what gets repeated continuously during the month of February. The fact that every month is white history month gets ignored.

The ironic part about the above statement is that black history month is indeed racist but not because there is no equivalent white history month.  It is racist because it turns blackness into a mockery.  If Black History and accomplishments were truly appreciated we would not need a month to celebrate them; it would be integrated into our lives in the natural course of events.  Black history month continues to exist because of racism.

This year many point to the election of Barack Obama as an added reason to celebrate.  While the election of Barack is historic it does not change the daily lived experience of blacks across North America.  Each generation we have seen exceptional blacks break through the glass ceiling however the masses continue to daily suffer from racism, and class exploitation.

I don’t feel that doing the obligatory post daily for 28 days will change anything, it will only highlight the fact that we remain a completely divided society without offering any concrete conclusions.  I further refuse to provide an education in black history to those who expect that blackness, or anti-racism should be spoon feed to them on their timetable. 

This blog is about engaging in conversations and I believe that is the best approach to breaking down the walls that continue to divide us from one another.  Pretending for one month out of twelve that there is a connection or that we somehow value contributions when we don’t, does not get us anywhere.  So, to the next person who wants to wish me happy black history month, how about you skip it and instead spend the rest of the year working to dismantle privilege and deal with race critically.

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