February is the month that we celebrate Black History. We learn about important Black historical figures, attend events to celebrate black culture, and place an emphasis on Black cultural history in America. However, do we all participate? Do we give the celebration of Black history the credence that it deserves?
The answer is, sadly, we do not. Because mainstream America still claims that it “does not see color.” But we’ve got that all wrong; we need to see color in order to appreciate it. We need to recognize minority races for the beauty that they possess. Black is beautiful. It would be a shame to ignore that aspect of a person’s identity, when it is an aspect worthy of great celebration.
When we say that we do not see color, we struggle to fully embrace those who differ from us. By preaching tolerance for other cultures rather than celebration and hospitality, we preach indifference as a virtue.
Instead, we need to make attempts to learn about the cultures of others. We need to celebrate heritage with minorities, even if we ourselves do not share it. We need to become welcoming and encouraging of others’ customs, eager to learn about the unique ways of speaking, cooking, entertaining, and more. We need to fully embrace people for all that they are, including their races and cultural heritages.
Another way in which white, mainstream America does a disservice to our Black brothers and sisters is by not fully embracing their whole lives, and by extension, their causes. We may use that token black friend to emphasize our own progressiveness, but then we do nothing to empathize with Black communities when their neighbors are slain by police. Again, we preach indifference rather than hospitality.
The fact that #BlackLivesMatter was, and is, a controversial protest says less about the actual movement than it does about the state of America’s heart. People are hurting, in fear, yet most of white America nothing to further the cause of stating that yes, Black lives matter, and it needs to be said because recent events have suggested otherwise.
So as we go through February, let’s do more to embrace Black culture and Black communities. Let’s realize that the past is connected to the present and that causes that are important to minorities in America should be just as important to the majority. Especially when these causes are lives, cultural history and heritage.
Past February, let’s do more to embrace Black culture in our lives and in our everyday education. It is a damn shame that we even need a Black History Month. We should be recognizing important Black historical figures just as much as we recognize white figures. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. So let’s work harder to make it one.