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Love and Black history sharing the same month is instructive

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Love and Black history sharing the same month is instructive

Feb 12, 2024 | 6:50 am ET
By Janice Ellis
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Love and Black history sharing the same month is instructive
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While many of us may not take time to celebrate love or Black history during the month of February, they both hold a lot in common and offer some valuable aspects we might want to consider.

Among them: Understanding. Hope. Unity.

Understanding

In love, when we really want to know about a person or thing, we put forth the effort to gain a better, if not thorough, understanding of every aspect of them. We want to.

With Black history, it is no different.

We love America. How much do we want to fully understand her? How can that be achieved if we choose to ignore a big aspect of her history?

Black history is a big part of American history

Yet the struggle to achieve a better understanding of the Black experience and history in America sadly continues today.

If fact, as we celebrate another Black History Month, there are efforts anew to either prevent, distort or recast American history, especially when it comes to the way Blacks have been regarded and treated.

Efforts to prevent Black history from being taught are occurring from the halls of Congress to legislative bodies to school board meetings. Vigorous, and sometimes rancorous, discussions are occurring about what children should be taught about the Black experience and history in America.

Much of the discussion is based on the false and misleading notion that a college level advanced course called “critical race theory” is being taught in grade and high schools.

This is not occurring.

Yet, it is being used to fuel the “anti-woke” movement that has infiltrated many political campaigns.

Proponents of the efforts to pass legislation and to have parents monitor and dictate class curricula, when it comes to teaching factual and complete America history, proffer the reason that they are afraid it will make white children feel guilty for something they did not do. Occasionally, it is mentioned that it might make Black children feel victimized.

The Black experience and history in America, as the saying goes, “is what it is.” No amount of avoidance, elimination or recasting will change that. So, why not teach our children all of American history?

It all begins with getting an understanding. It is no different for a large segment of our fellow Americans. The first step is to bother to better understand their history — their role, plight, and contributions to the society in which we live.

Hope

In love, we hope that our efforts to achieve a better understanding will form a strong foundation for a lasting relationship that can withstand and thrive in whatever circumstances and conditions the future may hold.

The hope for understanding all aspects of Black history is no different. We should want to improve race relations. In recent years, race relations seem to have deteriorated.

Setting aside a month, the shortest on the calendar, will not fix it or move us forward. It is only palliative.

Even worse, it is a feeble attempt at filling a void primarily in our educational system. It is a poor effort at best to set a distorted record straight about the many, many contributions made by Blacks in building America.

An exhibit here, a forum or program there just doesn’t do the history of a race of people justice.

What other ethnic group has to carry the burden of trying to do justice to its history in a mere month?

Perhaps, if we are willing to fully confront the ugliness of institutionalized racism in education and take some systemic actions for lasting change, there may come a time when there will no longer be a need for a Black History Month.

We will have arrived at a point where we chronicle and commemorate the contributions of all Americans in the same history books, taught to all school children.

Making sure all of our books — from Art to Zoology — include and reflect the contributions of Black Americans, and that we are not just giving lip service to it one month out of the year. This will be the only thing to bring about lasting change.

Sadly, that day is not today.

Efforts to improve education must continue on multiple fronts, from correcting the content of the books used in the classroom, to educating the community at-large about omissions and distortions in America’s past when it comes to Blacks.

Hope springs eternal.

Unity

A beautiful outcome that results from love is the ongoing efforts put forth to achieve unity of purpose and working together for each other’s happiness and well-being, while gaining more appreciation and respect for differences.

Putting forth the effort to better understand our commonalities and differences as Americans — irrespective of our skin color, where we hail from, our station in life — is key in order to build a better life for all and is something to work on daily.

Intermittent focus or occasional thinking about how to do that during one month out of the year is not enough.

As we work to achieve more unity as a country, as a society, no one needs to experience guilt. If the not-so-flattering and cruel aspects of American history are put in their proper and complete historical perspective, it can be freeing for us all.

Yes, a lot of American history is ugly and painful, but a lot of American history is also beautiful and good. That should make us comfortable, not reluctant, to study and discuss the Black experience and history in America.

As in love, there is both pain and healing, unhappiness and happiness. But, isn’t it all worth it?

Fortuitously, maybe the fact that love and Black History share a month of celebration is telling us something anew.

Editor’s Note:  This column contains excerpts from the author’s award-winning book, USING MY WORD POWER: Advocating For A More Civilized Society: Book I 

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