February 27, 2015

February: Thank You White People


Today, I was thinking February is one month that beats out all of the rest because it's just simply depressing. February is the second month of the year and you'd think we'd all still be high off of the fact that it's a brand new year, and there's ten more months left in the year.

Actually, one of the reasons why it is such a depressing month is because it's when you realize that you've kept none of your resolutions, and you're still doing the same things you did in December. February is a sad reminder that you have no will power and as much as you want to change, it's February, what's the point? You start to think I might as well quit before I even start and  maybe try this thing again in 11 months.

Next, February is the month of the infamous Valentine's Day. I've always hated Valentine's Day. Even when I was younger and would get things from my parents, I just felt extremely bad for those who didn't get anything. It's one of the most annoying days on social media because everyone just MUST post pictures of the things they received so that they feel special. Everyone must out shine each other because of course we all know that the person who gets the biggest teddy bear and most expensive heart-shaped candy box is the most loved of us all. Everyone goes out of their way to say hey, I'm not lonely on Valentine's Day and I am loved, look at all the mass marketed items I've received that says 'I love you'. I have never had a true Valentine but when I do have one, I don't want to be like that. Fact is, there are people who are alone on Valentine's Day but that doesn't mean they are lonely. There are people who have never had a valentine but that doesn't mean they aren't loved. Another fact is that there people who are really lonely and are not loved on Valentine's Day or any day of the year. I hate how much emphasis we put on the day. Of course we all want to feel appreciated but that should happen often and shouldn't be something we should be boastful about. I think Valentine's Day should be an expression of love to everyone and a day of thankfulness, but that's just my opinion...Moving on...

On a more serious note, February is also Black History Month. Growing up, I always loved Black History Month. In elementary school we'd learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, etc. We'd do coloring sheets, read short biographies, and watch movies on the early Black leaders and the Civil Rights activists. After elementary school, and the older I got the less celebrated Black History Month became. I remember being in 7th grade and I was excited because we'd get to talk about Black History. The month of February came and went and there was no mention of anyone or anything relating to Black History. Sure there were small bulletin boards decorated with pictures of famous Black Americans, but there was no discussion of it. When I was in high school it was even more absent, there weren't even bulletin boards. During my 10th grade year there was one teacher who made it a point to talk about Black History not only during February but throughout the year. Besides her, no one else even bothered.

To cure this absence in my life, I started to delve heavily into historical fiction novels that dealt with slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights era. I feel as though every black person has a hunger for knowledge about his-story or her-story. In some aspects, I'm glad I took the initiative to learn about Black History for myself because the things that happened to Blacks in America are things that are still considered controversial even though they are very much true and very well documented. I think the reason why Black History lessons dwindle or disappear in middle and high school is because you can't sugarcoat it any longer.

You can't pass out coloring sheets and turn on cutesy kid's movies regarding the civil rights era. As people become older, you can't feed them pureed carrots and peas from a Gerber jar and pass it off as steak and potatoes. With age comes more common sense and knowledge, and older kids won't be satisfied coloring Thurgood Marshall with a brown crayon. However, you can't show them the lynchings, the burned brown bodies, the stolen innocence of women and children, the Emmett Tills, the backs of slaves, the race riots that resulted in hundreds of Blacks being murdered because that's too controversial. Too emotional.

As I began to read and understand that the depth of Black History went so far beyond what I had been fed, I didn't like Black History Month as much. I felt as though I had been led believe that I should be proud of Black History Month, but in reality it's not a month of pride. Yes, Blacks have achieved many great feats and achievements, but the struggle to get to those achievements is what Black History Month is about. The struggle for freedom and equality that we are still fighting for today is what Black History Month is about. Although it is not a month of pride, it is not one of shame either. It's a month of reflection to think about all the lives that were lost in the struggle, simply because of our brown skin. We were considered as a whole to be the "Negro Problem", we had no identity, we were inferior, we were considered to be of a different sub-prime species and even today we are still considered to be inferior people.

Black History Month is a time of reflection, it's a time to think about all the sacrifices that people have made to get us this far. Many people think that Black History Month deals with people who have helped us become equals, but that fight is very far from being over. If you think about the history of Black Americans it is sad and it hurts physically and emotionally to see what Blacks have been subjected to and all the hate and self-hate that it has projected, it can even make you angry.

What is February? It's the shortest month of the year. Even Google says that Black History Month ends indefinitely on February 28th, as if we should just cease to think about it thereafter. Take the blinders off (not all the way off, though) for a month, not even a whole month but just until the 28th. But it's 'our month' they say. It's supposedly a present or a gift to us for all the hardships we've faced in this country. Thank you white people. Isn't it quite ironic how a day of love is in the same month that reminds us of all the hate Black Americans have been tolerating since the first ships arrived ashore? For the lynch parties, the 'strange fruit', the welts across our backs, the anchors tied to our feet that sunk our bodies deep into the river, the raping of our women, the overall oppression, the societal marginalization, the blatant murder of our culture, our souls, our pride, our brothers, our sisters, our babies, we get...February. Thank you white people.


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