Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Every year when the calendar lands on Martin Luther King Day again, we get a ton of the obligatory platitudes from all sectors of civilized society; the business community, the political community, the sports community, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I think that even platitudes are nice, but they're simply not enough. Remembering a slain civil rights leader for one day throughout the year is simply not enough. Now Martin Luther King, Jr. was not certainly not the only factor in the civil rights movement - even if his name was the biggest - and I think, therefore, that it is important to recognize throughout the year, and throughout our history books, the significance of other figures and groups that may not be as prominently held in our political and social histories. I think Black History Month has had a positive effect on shedding light on the true history of this country - the good and bad - and how that history impacts our society today. However, the concept of Black History Month to me seems a bit strange; it's as if "Black History" is a separate history from United States history. I understand the need to highlight black history, but at the same time it would almost seem to create an otherness that only perpetuates the idea of blacks in this country, but specifically African Americans, as not being fully American, and that their history is somehow separate from that of the country as a whole. I think that the black - and again, specifically African American - experience is not only not separate from that of the United States as a whole, but is a major part of the history of the United States, and is actually incredibly salient with regard to current social constructs and relations.
Therefore, a realistic history of the United States would be one that not only highlighted "black history" for one month, but would actually include the plight of the enslaved, the murdered, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed throughout the sordid history of this nation.

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