Does America Still Need Black History Month?
Here we are again, another February, black president firmly ensconced in office -- for a second term, no less -- and still we feel the need to set aside a month to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans. Each year we get a collective pat on the head by race hustlers and guilty liberals who act as if our skin color is akin to suffering from some kind of affliction that needs special compensation. Maybe we could organize a telethon to help find a cure? So even with a so-called post-racial president, there are still far too many of us willing to segregate people into separate groups, setting them apart based on something as insignificant as skin color.
Carter G. Woodson is considered the 'Father' of Black History Month. He started it back in 1926, and chose the second week in February so that it would coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976 it was extended into the month-long celebration we engage in today. But do we still need a separate month to recognize the accomplishments of blacks? I would say no. Of course, there are still racists, as exist in any country, but no longer is there the institutionalized kind of racism in America that does not allow blacks the same opportunities afforded whites. There are a plethora of successful American blacks, as well as endless opportunities for us that weren't available 87 years ago. No longer is a thriving black community an oddity that needs a month-long commemoration. Our successes have become a normal part of the American landscape. Now, nearly 40 years later, the fact that we're still celebrating blacks in a separate but equal month instead of speaking about the contributions of these great men and women of our past in the context of American history, is a barrier to a true post-racial society.
When Barack Obama won his historic victory and became the first black president, I remember talking with my sister who was so excited that a black man finally won the highest office in the land. I basically gave her the caveat emptor warning, saying 'remember he's just a man, not a god, no one can live up to the expectations he's promised.' She was so upset that I didn't share her glee, that she accused me of being brainwashed by the right. I knew then that no matter what happened, his election wouldn't mean that America had overcome its racist past, but would lead to accusations that things are far worse than ever. And we see that in the way that Obama and his supporters wield his skin color like a weapon, using it to deflect criticism, and causing some to hold back any disagreements for fear of being called 'racist.'
The black community is in one sense a closed society, where too many have the 'Us against Whitey' mentality, and an irrational demand of loyalty to one another simply because of a shared complexion. A community that considers itself victims of a racist country -- a theory that is bolstered by the media and charlatans masquerading as black leaders who continually fan the flames of racial inequality -- makes it almost impossible to have an honest discussion about race. I knew that Obama's election, in the minds of people who think this way, wasn't going to end the racial divide, but begin a whole new ugly chapter. For those that believe every slight by a white person means they're a racist, that any time a ticket is issued it's because they were driving while black, and dedicating one month out of 12 is a good start but won't make up for years of racism, are in no mood to look at the progress made, they want to continue to rage, even though nothing anyone does, and no amount of appeasement, will make things 'right'.
America has to stop apologizing for our past, stop treating minorities as petulant children who can never hear 'no', giving us everything we scream for just so the rest can have some peace. No amount of giving or apologizing can make up for slavery or the horrific lynchings that occurred. But most whites living today played no part in that ugly past, and more often than not are willing to look past color when we are not. Those days were awful but they are a part of our past, not our present. The thinned-skinned attitude of many blacks is validated by the left by commentators like FOX News' Juan Williams who recently blamed Republicans for the failure of the ObamaCare software, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, who mocked the Romneys for taking a photo with their black grandchild., and Toure (who's always upset about something) calling Dr. Ben Carson a token "Black friend to Republicans who want to assuage their guilt." How does a country move past race when blacks make a living excusing Obama and throwing Molotov cocktails at the Republican Party and black conservatives?
Those who came before us and fought against real hatred and bigotry, fought for equality of opportunity that was denied us at every turn. I wonder what men like Daniel Hale Williams and Benjamin Banneker would think, or women like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman? What would they say about the whining that blacks engage in today? Would they shake their heads, ashamed of blacks that still cry foul in a day and age when we have a black president and opportunities they only dreamed of? We can only wonder, but my guess is they would be heartbroken to see just how much we've lost sight of the initial goal.
Let's face it, as long as there is some kind of personal gain -- whether political or monetary -- in making blacks a continual victim group, as long as a former community activist turned president plays his race card when his poll numbers are low and congress doesn't give him all he asks for, as long as we forget what real struggle is like and whine about a political party that is supposed to be the opposing party, we will continue on this path where blacks expect some kind of payback for things that happened long ago. And we'll continue using February as the month to beat the nation about the head and chest, hoping to guilt them into silence.
Alice Nelson writes movie reviews at DVD Verdict