Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black History Month Celebration

What does Black History Month really mean for African Americans and other global African descendants who make their way to the United States? February is the shortest month of the year, so the good folks who were compelled to mark our history didn't do us a favor. Was it so difficult to choose a month with thirty-one days when weighing centuries of murder, rape, lynching, and suicides at sea? Perhaps those additional three days would have been too much to bear for the undoubted republicans who signed the legislation.

My personal, familial, and cultural identities are tied to my blackness. I can't and wouldn't deny who I am, but millions of others habitually attempt to do so. My childhood was predominantly African American until junior high when I met and befriended Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

I've always been fascinated by genealogy and family lore, but to date I've yet t follow through. My thinking was that I would get around to interviewing my granny on camera or digital voice recorder. She would tell me what it was like to be a black child in the 1920's and 1930's, in Texas. I missed the opportunity to do so three years after her death. I still wonder what her life was like those many years ago, and further what our ancestors' lives were given that she was born in 1917. 

I'm not naive enough to think our family doesn't have slavery among the ranks, but were always free do what they wanted within the confines of the racist south. There was no escaping who and what we were - Southern Blacks, not that anyone tried to assimilate or pass for white. 

Slavery and its unwitting offspring, racism are seven-headed hydras, and twenty-eight days once a year will never be enough to make right what was and still remains an injustice. 

The argument could extend beyond African slaves who were treated as cargo on The Middle Passage, to others races throughout history that were at one time another a servant to a conquering nation. 

One blog post isn't sufficient to discuss this topic, but I want to add my five cents. I personally feel cheated by Black History Month that takes place in February. 

It wasn't until I'd transferred high schools that I made a point of educating others on the atrocities, setbacks, breakthroughs, and triumphs of African Americans. I can't remember how I managed to do morning Black History Month announcements. It wasn't every year. I think it was only during my senior high. I still recall the white student who sat alongside me, noncommittal expression about his face. He was being obnoxious but tried to wrap it in genuine concern and or curiosity moments before I took hold of the microphone. I remember BLURTING BLACK into the mic one morning, perhaps verbally raising my Black Pride Fist at him and all the non-black students and faculty listening. 

It comes down to individual beliefs, acknowledgment of the history, and a concerted effort never to forget. 

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