February was set aside to celebrate the achievements of African Americans. Chosen due to the birth not of Martin Luther King Jr. (actually born January 15th) as many mistakenly believe but Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, back when Black History Month was simply Negro History Week by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In the 1970’s it was expanded, taking over all of February. Each year school children, the media, and many others celebrate African American culture; recite facts about Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks. Yet some African Americans find the celebration a little more than kin and less than kind.
Black history month is a study in good intentions gone badly. An attempt at including African Americans into the history books, morphed into an exercise in ethnocentrism. By saying “Black is Beautiful” all else becomes less than. The true face of afro-centrism now comes to light; racism disguised, and named in a politically correct fashion is still racism. The difference is that racism is negative. It is the belief that all other races are somehow inferior, while ethnocentrism is the belief that a particular race (always the race of the ethnocentric) is somehow superior. They are the same thing.
The idea of making up for the past wrongs, say that of disregarding history of African Americans is illusionary. It is a fact that African Americans were left out of the history books, however it is impossible to make up for such. Dedicating a month to African Americans today, will not make right the wrong of slavery, just as erecting a museum in District of Columbia will not right the wrongs of the Holocaust. Black History month actually accomplishes the opposite, allowing the segregation of history, leaving 11 months of the year empty of African Americans. This is not what Dr. Woodson had in mind.
The civil rights struggle of the 1960’s is part of a larger and continuing struggle, that for freedom. It is dangerous and ill advised to separate these fights for freedom, from those of the Russians in 1917 or our founding fathers in 1776. It is the idea that each man is able to do what he chooses. The idea of liberty is not subject to a race or a culture. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today as an amazing black man, not as an amazing man. Rosa Parks is known as an amazing African American, not an amazing human being. What would we say if Guy Fawkes was known as an amazing Caucasian not a fighter for religious freedom and the iconic symbol of Anonymous and masked by fictional anarcho-superhero in V for Vendetta, Che Guevara as an amazing Spaniard, not an intelligent revolutionary, the list can go on. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X should be in the history books next to George Washington, Michel Bakunin, and Nelson Mandela, not dismissed as black history.
Black history is American history, the works of