By Ilex Bien-Aime
I have never been a fan of Black history month in its current state. For as long as I can remember we’ve covered the same group of people over and over again in school. Yes Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman were important and should never be forgotten, but let us not forget that there are many, many black people who have accomplished great things in this country. The current state of Black history month seems to cheat us of all of the great things that we have done. Some would suggest that having a month is better than not having anything at all. Though that may be true to a certain extent, we have allowed this month to make us lazy.
It amazes me how a country that is a few hundred years old could find it acceptable to make Black accomplishments 28 days long. This is partly why today’s youth lacks identity. Many of us do not know who we are and from where we come. Sure, we know that we were slaves brought to America. We know about civil rights, but we don’t seem to know more than that. How can we be proud when we don’t know that we have so much that should make us proud?
I mean no disrespect to Carter G. Woodson and what he was trying to accomplish when the observance of Black History month began. My problem is with our country’s lack of advancement when it comes to Black history, and with Blacks ourselves. We are not teaching our kids about themselves and we keep hiding behind a month to do the job for us. I don’t expect our government to change but I do expect for us as a people to change. Most of us could tell you where to buy the best pizza in Chicago or we can give you Walter Payton’s career stats but many of us don’t know who Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is.
Our kids are blinded by their current circumstances and do not see that not only were we Kings and Queens, we were and are so many other things. Frederick Douglas was a slave and accomplished many great things. Charles Drew was raised in a time when racism was blatant and rampant yet he still accomplished so much. Maybe if we taught our children that just because they currently live in a state of need, they have the ability to one day change those circumstances. We have to teach our kids that there are more ways to be successful than just how great your jump shot is or how fast you can run the forty yard dash.
Please understand that I am not disrespecting athletes. If you can make millions playing sports, by all means go for it. My problem is that parents unfortunately are not letting their children know that being an athlete does not guarantee your success. Your brain guarantees your success. Maybe we can teach our kids about Myron Rolle so that they can see that we are a smart people. Myron Roll graduated from Florida State University in 2.5 years with a 3.7 G.P.A. He was awarded the honor of being a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford for a year. He was also the number one rated safety in America coming out of high school. Currently Myron is trying to make an NFL roster and if he does, great!But if he does not, he is going to be a brain surgeon. While all of these players are sustaining brain injuries, he may one day be the one to cure them!
Four years ago we were taught that a Black man can actually be president of the US. This was not just in theory but in actual reality. My point is quite simple, Black history month is better than nothing but our history is something that should be taught daily. We need for our youth to see that success has been accomplished by us before and it can be accomplished by us again. Young Black children need to see that we matter and that we are important. If the government will not do this then we as a people need to do this. Let’s stop using Black History Month as a crutch and start teaching Black history to our children all year long.
Ilex Bien-Aime is an integral part of the BlackLoveAndMarriage.com team. He lives in Washington, DC with his lovely wife. He writes as a man who has seen women mistreat themselves and who have allowed themselves to be mistreated. He writes as a man who wants to give his future daughters a guideline on how to deal with men. Lastly he writes what he writes because his female friends are always asking his opinion about these situations. Connect with Ilex at Iamsayingit.blogspot.com or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.