Disagree With Black History Month? Want a White History Month, You Say?

image

I was born and raised in Canada. When I was a child growing up, there was no such thing as Black History Month (it was not official until December 1995, and so it’s first appearance on the Canadian calendars was February 1996- I was in Grade 6 at the time). Nor was there a place in the school curriculum where we learned black history. And there was no magical internet for any child to do an easy “Black History” search and see what came up. As far as I was aware, the only Black slaves to ever exist were the ones who ended up in the U.S., and all the black people in Canada immigrated at some point from the Caribbean, Africa, or the U.S. some time after the last documented war because otherwise, why was it that there were literally no black people in history? In fact, as far as I was aware, there was no such thing as slavery in Canada, either. That was an American thing. I got this understanding because, of the little I was able to retain about slavery from movies like Roots and books I had read, the saving grace to the slaves was the underground railroad, whose final stop was in Canada, where the slaves could be free. Therefore, Canada did not have slaves. It was quite simple to me at the time. And how very, very wrong was I?

The first thing I ever learned in school about slavery or black history, I learned from a teacher (my favourite still to this day) who often went above and beyond and around and trampled right all over the curriculum. She found ways for learning to be interactive and fun, and to teach us double the amount of information than other other grade 4 classes. And I remember her reading us the book Underground to Canada. And then having a sort of open Q & A session afterwards about each chapter or two she had read to us. She was also the one who showed us francophone cartoons  like Asterix (we were in french immersion) and read us Petit Nicholas stories, to help us improve our fluency in French. And had us do soapstone carvings with bars of soap, and make French potato pancakes (she was actually from France). You know how we learned about the Middle Ages? We got to make giant replicas of castles…but they had to be to scale, and they had to be accurate representations (like, the walls had to be “stone” covered in rugs). We also took a class trip to Medieval Times And we often went outside to sing songs. Yeah. She was magnificent.

black history month forum 1
And the sad thing is, this is FAR from the worst of it. And my lord, to open these up and actually read their posts and follow-up comments made me so very sad for these kids.

But then, I digress. I started this post because I get so damn tired of seeing posts in forums and twitter status updates that say things like “It’s not fair! If there’s a Black History Month, there should be a WHITE history month!”. Seriously? Do you not get the fact that everything from slavery to, say, the civil rights movement that involves black people is in fact part of US/Canadian history? And yet, not once did I see or hear any mention of it in any of my history classrooms or textbooks. There are places in Canada, like Nova Scotia, that have Black Settlers from hundreds of years ago, from 1782 to be exact, and while I learned about the indigenous people, and about the pioneers, I never once learned about the black settlers. Now why is that? Why is it that I’ve learned, as a Canadian, allllll about American History, because apparently it was necessary to learn about what happens in American History as a Canadian, but it’s not important to learn about the contribution to history that Black people in Canada had? You get about 12 years worth of White History. Each year, in History class, you get to learn all about White History…for 11 months. And now you want a special one dedicated to white history? Soooo you can have review tests about all that you learned on White History in the previous 11 months?

And here’s a big issue: how many people know that there’s more to Black History in North America than slavery? How many people honestly have any concept that, sometimes against all odds and under risk of death, some Black people did extraordinary things completely unrelated to, and despite the constraints of, slavery? How many scientists and inventors there were, Yale graduates and all, in the 1800’s, who managed to contribute so very much to North American society as we know it (for some more info, click here)? How many people know the critical contributions that Black folk made to some inventions that are credited solely to a white person (such as the lightbulb and the telephone)? Black History Month is not simply a time to sit and reflect and be sad about slavery, it’s a time to be educated on Black History, the stuff that never makes it into the history books, and yet was so pivotal to modern society, and life, as we know it. There is so much to be proud of in North America’s black history, and yet so few people of any decent really know that.

Source: littlegreenfootballs.com
Riiigghhttt…So. Born and raised in America. Ran for State Senate. Mother from Kansas. Mother’s family from Kansas, including an activist and social scientist, and the first female vice president of a bank. Father is of Kenyan descent. Obama should go be President of Kenya. If his father was Italian, would we hear that same argument? I don’t think so

Now, I would like to say for the record that for me, it’s not about learning about the history of my ancestors personally. My ancestors weren’t North American Slaves, and I can trace my ancestry back through Jamaica. But I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an African American person, one who can trace their roots back into slavery 400 years or so, who have lost even the chance of an educated guess of where exactly their ancestors were sold into slavery from, and be told that the 400 years of Slavery that my ancestors went through, and everything they endured after slavery was abolished, and have the school system implicitly tell me that my history doesn’t count, never happened, and the stuff that we HAVE to acknowledge happened really only counts as a footnote. Really though? And then, to impact that slap in the face, you have ignorant, racist people, telling them they need to go back where they came from…wait, no. You can’t be serious. They should, what? Just pick a random place that happens to have black folk in it, where they know nothing of the customs or language, where every memory and they have, and every tale they’ve been told by family, revolves around the only homeland they’ve known (North America), and just… blend right in? What, they’ll feel right at home? It’s where they belong?

I don’t think people really think these things through when they say them. It’s the equivalent of telling a white Canadian person whose great, great, great, great grandparents were Canadian to just, at random, pick a place where the majority of the population is white and go live there. And don’t tell me it’s not the same. I know many a white person who can tell you they have Russian, or Ukranian, or something in their background. Ok. So go live there then. Wait, no? That would be ridiculous? Yeeahhhhh. Thought so. Sometimes, I see a “THEY are immigrants, WE are originals” kind of attitude. *guffaws* Oh. I see. So there weren’t Native Americans here when the settlers came way back when? It was just acres and acres of uninhabited land, free for the taking? Oh wait, it wasn’t. Right. Does anybody see a pattern here? The arguments against Black History month are just full of fallacious reasoning. It just doesn’t make sense. Nobody is suggesting that during Black History Month we take an in-depth look at the history of Black Cultures around the world who have immigrated to Canada/America recently. The point is to include ALL of the history of Canada/America, and all of the people and things that brought these countries to where there are now- including the Black part.

Youth against Racism in Europe protest against the BNP in 1993, photo The Socialist
Source: socialistparty.org
People of all races and religions want racism and ignorance to end. But ignorance is borne of a lack of factual knowledge and racist propaganda passed down through the ages. Education is key.

I wish I, and my peers, had known that there was actually slavery in Canada until 1819. Or the fact that Black people played a huge role in the War of 1812 (for more information on Canadian Black History, click here). And more importantly, I want my children and ALL their peers to have a very thorough understanding of the complete history of this beautiful country we live in, so that when some vile-tongue filthy prick verbally assaults my kid with racial slurs and ignorant commentary, both them and everyone they know can stand up and fight back, they won’t have to hang their heads in shame and confusion, wondering just how much of what douche-face said was right. Like I did. Sure, eventually I learned, and eventually I fought. But often times, I was fighting alone. Or fighting blind. I want the next generation to know about all the horrors and struggles our ancestors went through so that we could have the life we live today. So they can be proud and strive for all that the world has to offer, knowing how lucky they are to have those things within reach. And I want them to know that not everybody is like that horrific, small-minded bigot. Because people of all races, not just Black People, helped in the fight…it couldn’t have been done alone. I want them to know that, even when the odds seem stacked against them, they should fight for what’s right, they should never let anyone take away their rights, hurt them, desecrate them, without a fight…because it starts with one voice, but it can be joined by millions.

I’m tired of the arguments that go back and forth about having to apologize for what your ancestors did. I think if you take away the heat of the moment, that’s not what anybody really wants, or really means. I think the goal is for everybody to be aware of what happened in history, in its entirety: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The victories and the growth and the acts of bravery and determination and decency and kindness, even in the face of such ugly, ugly inhumanity. For everyone to accept that it was horrific, and inhumane, and that with advances in technology, and science, we know better now, and after all of those struggles, we can do better now. But how will we know what we’re reaching out for, how will we ever know the direction we really need to be heading, unless we truly know where we came from?

And that, my good friends, is why I feel that Black History is necessary. Until the curriculum is fully modified to completely incorporate ALL of North American History, in a balanced and fair way, treating Lewis Lattimer with as much respect as Thomas Edison, and taking time out to focus on EVERY SINGLE PERSON OF EVERY RACE who arguably changed North America as we know it, I want a month.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

I agree with Mr. Freeman. It’s not enough. This stuff IS American/Canadian history, and should be incorporated and taught year round with the rest of the American/Canadian history. But it’s a start. The more opportunities our youth have to really understand the past, I think the more likely it is the won’t recreate the mistakes of the past, and soon we’ll all envision the same future.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

Happy Wednesday y’all!

Cheers

Advertisements

9 Comments

  1. Yo imma be serous for real for a min. I didnt know none a dis B4. but it makes u think fo real yo. straight goods imma get more n more vex now when peeps b talkin some mess bout slavery and peanuts is all we got ta celebrate cuz peeps want proof or it Neva happen an I dint know where 2 find so much a dis. guuuuuurrrrllll do yo thang, u killin black history month, best get some medal or some shyyyeeettt

    Like

    1. @Kinetic I’m glad I’ve been able to share something with you that you didn’t know before, and I hope you pay that knowledge forward. But just remember, if you want someone to hear what you’re saying, you can’t address it in anger, especially if you’re in the right, cause all they’ll see is anger and aggression, and dismiss the content of your message.

      Like

  2. I am short on time so I will give you a short answer today and follow up tomorrow.

    I don’t want a white history month. I also see no need for a black history month. Our history is written as Americans and black history month furthers the separation of races and cultures. I have asked it in the past on my blog, social media, and in the real world, are people African Americans or are they Americans? Because if you were born here in America then you are an American, period, end of discussion. Same goes for Mexican American and anyone else that puts something in front of the American. The only “people” that have a right to anything different are Native Americans since this was their land before anyone else.

    Being proud of one’s heritage is one thing, but many other things flat cross the line in my simple opinion.

    Like

    1. @Scorpion Sting
      But here’s the inherent problem- the actual curriculum in the schools doesn’t really teach all of history… It doesn’t give a fair, overall coverage of everything that brought the Americas to where they are now. Most of what people know about anything relating to Black people within history, other than the fact that slavery happened, was abolished, and civil rights movements happened, is information that is learned during special events or curriculum held during black history month, or is independently researched online. So the system, as it stands, is broken.

      Progress, especially in social issues, is often accomplished in roundabout baby steps. So, to the best of my knowledge, African-American was first coined to describe the direct descendants of the freed slaves… it was a recognition that they are Americans, and a concession to the extremely racist conservatives, who said the only true american was white.

      I personally don’t use the term when referring to myself, and other the term black to refer to any black person whose background/birthplace I am not familiar with. Because to tack the African prefix onto my status would make no sense… I know all human beings originated in Africa, but my culture is Jamaican, my citizenship is Canadian, and to negate that black people have ancestors in places more direct than Africa is like negating my identity to some extent, in my opinion.

      But, I think that, unless they finally fix the problem, and make the history books all inclusive, any race, or any person from any ethnic background, who played a part in making North America what it is today, is going to have a separation from what is generally defined as just “American”.

      Like

  3. There needs to be a major major major overhaul of what standard education means. Until the day they cover history equally and children know the complete story of the Americas like they know the white contribution to history, the various cultures need to lobby. And fight for that right. It’s necessary. I see this all the time, the lack of understanding that what we are being educated on in schools are flawed. When you walk out of school you think you know the real deal which is why there are so many ignorant grown children running their mouths now about how black history month is unnecessary, and biased, and is unamerican.

    They think it’s unamerican because they’ve been brainwashed through the school system to believe that the only thing black’s have in american history is their part in slavery and growing the cotton industry. And like a previous poster said peanut butter. Until the greater majority knows better than that because they are learning the whole truth in their foundation, school, there will never be any hope of true equality between the races.

    Like

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree 100% and said an abbreviated version of this while replying to a previous comment. The system is broken, and the history books and curriculum was created in a time when the world would have basically exploded had they actually promoted equality among the races and the fact that black people had an instrumental rolerole in moving society forward to where is today.

      Like

  4. Don’t you think it’s suspicious that colored people now have all these webpages about all the great things they have done in history when anybody can just put something on the internet for free and pretend that it’s factual? where was all this documentation back when it was only books and newspapers, which were not so easy to just lie and create facts in?

    Did you ever think that the reason they gave you people a month is to avoid wasting money to protect children’s minds from being inundated with lies at such a tender age? Slave labor happened all over the world not just here. And I only hear you “African Americans” wanting to turn it into something it isn’t and always trying to skew the facts in your favor so you can benefit from something that didn’t EVEN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!!

    This is America, not the UN, so stop trying to change history and the facts so that you feel more at home. Everyone has the right to be treated equally. And fairly. So you don’t change the rules in a game that the kids are all playing together just because some kids are better at it the original way. How is THAT even fair?

    This is the reality. Either step up or shut up. We’re supposed to change everything, history, standardized testing, job hiring, everything, so that it skews in favor of minority immigrants, in our country………..I don’t think so. It’s like you want to always be treated inferior. Like you should get the first place prize cause you tried harder and screw the fact that my best was better than yours, if you don’t get the unfair advantage then everyone is racist? Oh please.

    If it was the opposite way and I got the prize just because I’m white so my effort counts for more than yours, even though you did better, you’d think that was racist, but you don’t see it the other way too? You don’t hear an uproar when a colored guy comes in first in the Olympic 100’s and a white guy comes in second, even though technically we know that physicality wise the colored one had the advantage?

    If you want to be treated equal and have things equal between races then stop demanding to be treated as different or special. Pure and simple.

    Like

    1. Lol first and foremost, I would just like to say for the record that anytime anyone uses the word “colored” to refer to noon-white people, I know they’re about to say something terribly racist, and then claim they aren’t racist at all. This also hills true for outsole who start their sentence with “I’m not racist, but… “True story. Check this post out for more info on that lol https://classicruby.com/2014/01/22/racists-are-morons-but-knowing-basic-english-in-customer-focused-jobs-a-must/

      Now, moving right along to your bigotry. All of these facts and information were always available in print, they were just rejected by white printing sources, in an attempt to keep the recess segregated and perpetuate the idea of inequality amongst the races. Maybe you should check your facts before making such outlandish claims.

      Second, I’m pretty sure they gave us the month to try and do what’s right without upsetting the powerful racist masses, who would have bankrupted the public school system fighting to keep the history books sterilized so that they didn’t have to desk with uncomfortable questions or, God forbid, a white child who had a black hero. And I’m pretty sure that 400 years of slavery, during which atrocities and horror were par for the course, where you could be auctioned off like cattle or traded like playing cards, and the countless other things I could mention certainly didn’t happen to me. But it did happen to my ancestors, and the effects of something like that happening to an entire race for 4 centuries are long standing and will take at least as long to repair. So I do live in a world where I still experience the aftershocks. Stop trying to pretend it’s something less than it is.

      Honestly I laughed quite a bit through your response, and I imagine your daddy has been spouting this crap at you non stop since you were in diapers. So I’m trying not to blame you. Really, I am. You have no idea what you’re talking about. The whole issue is, in this article, that WHITE HISTORY is the only history that is taught. But it’s not the only history that happened. In general, which you will never believe or understand, white people consistently have the unfair advantage, and the negative stereotypes and racism that they continue to perpetuate, combined with the curriculum-inspired ignorance and socially passed down ethnocentrism all but ensures that this will always be the case.

      You talk about equal treatment but what you really mean is, you want all white people to be treated equal to each other, and the other races to accept a position of inferiority as an acceptable reality. The Good Ol’ Boys club isn’t special treatment, or your kids catching a break because they’re just young and boys will be boys, isn’t special treatment? Cause I don’t see that happening for any other race. Just saying.

      Anyway, I think I’m about done. I won’t even directly address your “black people are only superior in physical pursuits”comment. Thanks for your response. You’ve highlighted exactly what’s wrong with the system, and that racism is alive and well in today’s society

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s