I have mixed feelings about Black History Month in America. It’s not that I don’t value Black history – I devalue hypocrisy. We’re living in fever pitch social violence; political hostility toward equality, critical race theory, and educating on American racial history; rezoning and threats to voting rights in Black communities; white nationalist insurgence on the State Capital; the outrage of appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court; economic exploitation of the working-poor; and too many folks resisting and resenting the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. There are far too many issues to list here!
The questions on my mind are: Why do we have a Black history month in America? Who is it for? How is it that we claim to honor Black History in February when it is socially, politically, and systemically devalued the remaining 11 months of the year? What delusions contribute to us forgetting that we belong to each other, this planet, and to something greater than our own self-interest?
My ancestors and Black history as I know it sustain and inspire me every day of my life. Nothing we are experiencing today compares, and yet it does. Eddie Glaude's book Begin Again references Amiri Baraka's writings on the changing same, "...that sense of alienation rooted in terror and trauma, which remains no matter the shifts and permutations in our lives, and is exacerbated by the country’s forgetfulness." Too many of us live with the pain of this truth, and too many of us don't. With racial awareness we can see, feel, and heal; we can transcend fear, and tender ourselves into the experience of belonging, where we don't use other races as a means of outrage or escape. Of course, I'm assuming this is your aim. If not, what is?
While I don't want to damper anyone's acknowledgement or celebration of Black history in America, I do want to stress that understanding how we have been individually and collectively programmed to think about race and racism is at the root of racial harm and racial harmony, internally and externally, and this is not a 30 day annual event, but rather a life practice. Regardless of your race, we must be in the practice of racial awareness - aware of yourself, aware of your history, and aware of your impact on social harmony.