Every Monday the inmates, I mean children, gather together for an all school meeting in we discuss the events coming up for the week and also talk about what is going on in the world around us. Anyone who’s ever been to school has been subjected to this kind of meeting in some form. It’s a great forum to keep kids aware of current events and to keep adults aware that it’s going to be a long week.
Well today, something happened at all school meeting that really ground my gears.
A very lovely young lady got up to make an announcement celebrating the life and accomplishments of Susan B. Anthony. As everyone listened intently it dawned on me that here we were, two Mondays into February, and no one had yet to officially acknowledge that it was Black History Month. All of a sudden, the inner wellspring of misogyny threatened to take hold of my emotions. How dare these broads celebrate when ain’t nobody even talking about the brothers.
I don’t like putting worthy causes up against each other, but it seems to be the way of the world. By the time Breast Cancer month is over, I’m too broke to help fight ball cancer. If I do the Relay for Life, no one will give to my Aids Walk campaign. How many times have you walked down the street and been asked by multiple people for change? Why can’t their be a beggar’s union so I could pay dues once and then all union members would get an equal handout? Ours is a society of competition, and this morning it put the women against the blacks. You know which side I chose.
To be fair, I’m a really big fan of Susan B. I’ve been using her dollars for years and I love the way that she was the first female in space or whatever she did, but it hurts my soul as a black man that we have yet to be acknowledged in our own month (we won’t even talk about why we get the shortest month of the year). Too often in our culture, we relegate minorities and those that have been historically oppressed to special little markers on the calendar. Give them their token day/month/parade and let’s pretend like everything is ok. So when we manage to avoid even doing that for whatever reason, it feels like a double slap in the face.
In truth, every month is Black history month because Black people are an indistinguishable part of the American story. We cannot be isolated or studied in a vacuum. Every month is women’s history month. This country does not exist without the contributions of those of us who aren’t white, Christian men. We shouldn’t have to choose which minority we herald at the expense of another because we should shift our perspective and celebrate/critique everyone all the time. When gay history week (do we have a whole month? I should probably know this…) rolls around, that is not the time to watch Milk and try on skinny jeans. That’s the time to remember how much a part of everyday life and the American experience LBGTQIAmericans are.
I hope that before the month is over, we find time at school to do a proper tribute to Black history. It’s important for everyone to view themselves as a part of a greater collective made up of different shades and notions. It’s even more important that we make that attitude proactive instead of reactive.
Happy Black history month everyone! Happy early birthday to Susan B. Anthony. God bless America. Anyone still feeling left out should just wait until March and have a parade about it.