Why Black History Month Matters
Because when I was growing up going to the so-called best public schools in Jersey City, from kindergarten to the 12th grade, my total page count in terms of Black history, in math, science, English, social studies or history, and on and on, might have been 2 pages in 13 years of schooling. Yup, slavery, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, and Dr. King’s dream. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because I grew up hating myself profoundly, my hair, my skin color, my eyes, my nose, my lips, my everything. Because although I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a boy of about 11 thanks to reading Ernest Hemingway, I never knew a single Black writer existed until I got to college and discovered the Harlem Renaissance, the Negritude Movement, the Black Arts Movement Amiri Baraka Sonia Sanchez Langston Hughes Zora Neale Hurston Maya Angelou Haki Madhubuti Nikki Giovanni The Last Poets and on and on. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because I desperately needed to see myself and people who look like me doing this that everything, because we did. Traffic light? Black person invented that? Gas mask? Black person invented that too. Folding chair. Black person invented that too. The grid for what is now Washington, DC? A Black person invented that too. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because it is enthusiastically ignorant for folks in 2015 to say Black History Month is racist, or does not mean anything to them, or why is it in the shortest month? Because if we read, if we study, we would know that a Black man named Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week” in 1926. He picked February because folks like the great Frederick Douglass were born in this month and you do not get more Black history than Mr. Douglass, escaped slave, abolitionist, amazing speaker, abolitionist, freedom fighter. Carter G. Woodson, great Black scholar and historian who did not even get his high school diploma until he was 22. Carter G. Woodson who, after W.E.B. DuBois, was only the second African American to get a PhD at Harvard University. Carter G. Woodson who wrote many scholarly articles and books, including his most famous, THE MISEDUCATION OF THE NEGRO. A title so profound that Lauryn Hill’s THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL cd was inspired by it. Yes, that Carter G. Woodson. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because Africa is the cradle of all civilization, where life began. Because in Africa, before the Romans and the Greeks, there were revolutions and innovations and inventions and governments and universities. You do not think so, then read Lerone Bennet’s BEFORE THE MAYFLOWER to understand Black history does not begin with American slavery. Read the works of Ivan Van Sertima. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because we are saying in 2015 (still) #BlackLivesMatter because there are folks in this planet who do not know these things just like many Black folks do not know these things, thus they think Black lives are worthless, worthy of being chokeholded to death, with no punishment whatsoever. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters because all people and all people’s histories matter. No matter who you are you should know who you are. Because if you do not then you will not know what to bring to the table of the human race, of the human family. Which we should be ashamed of. There is no excuse, in the era of Google, for not reading, not stuyding, not thinking, not asking questions, not finding answers, and not falling in love with your beautiful self. #WhyBlackHistoryMonthMatters Because you matter, and if you are still saying, in 2015, someone has good hair or bad hair, someone is more attractive because they are lighter than the darker ones, then that means you are practicing profound self-hatred because you think this history is not you, not about you, not for you. And it is.