Each February is declared to be Black History Month in the United States of America. Many people find this to be utterly offensive, and even quote famous African American celebrities saying that this month should not exist. The thesis proposed is that racism exists because people talk about racial differences.
But is that the case?
I am in favor of Black History Month, even though I used to be one of those voices against it. Let me give you a quick reason why.
History is vital to understand. History is also easy to forget. But history is always being retold in light of the current situation. People often commit anachronistic fallacies when teaching history, and try to insert modern trends and philosophies into their interpretation of the past. This leads to a misunderstanding of the past, and therefore a misunderstanding of history.
When we do not learn history properly we not be able to progress from the errors of the past.
Most students do not care about history. The past is the past and it is boring. I can remember sitting in both high school and undergraduate history classes and having people get frustrated because they only wanted to learn what they would be tested on (and then move on and forget it). This lack of respect for history means that people are not learning from it.
But also upon this, it takes so much to overcome preconceived notions. As I mentioned above, history is often taught with inaccuracies due to placing modern notions upon the lips and minds of figures in the past.
I suggest that instead of suggesting an interpretation of the past, that we actually listen to it.
Let’s actually listen to the black voice. Let’s actually show that #blacklivesmatter. Let’s actually put ourselves (I am speaking to Caucasians in this instance), in a position of humility and attentiveness. Let’s become learners.
Let us listen!
Maybe then we will learn.
And maybe then we will start listening more than one month a year.