Stop Celebrating Black History Month?

Featured, History & Politics

It’s only proper that within the disparity of our community there are even a range of views on a topic like Black History Month. Here is an article that was shared with me, and is authored by CSUDH professor Dr. Sharroky Hollie.

Meaningful Cultural Responsiveness
by Sharroky Hollie, Ph.D

There is nothing more debilitating to the cause of the institutionalization¬†of cultural responsiveness than the celebration of Black History Month. Indeed, superficial celebrations of culture that focus solely on ethnic identity actually demonstrate more of an under-appreciation of culture than they do an enrichment of culture. The message we send to youngsters is for these twenty-eight days, Black culture, history, and heritage matters, but we do so without answering the question what happens on March 1st. Of course, March is Women’s History Month. By not doing so, we are unknowingly modeling for our students how to undervalue heritage, ironically.

Those who continue to celebrate Black History Month and other said cultural holidays have wrapped their cultural responsiveness in a superficial cloth. For them being culturally responsive is merely about celebrating holidays, dead but heroic people, and surface cultural elements like music, foods, and historical trivia. You know how it goes: play some cultural music, wear cultural garb, eat cultural foods and play cultural historical factoids, then call it a culturally responsive day.

If don’t believe in what I am suggesting, then would you consider the vision of the creator of Black History Month, originally known as Negro History Week? Dr. Carter G. Woodson did not intend for this “celebration” to go on this long. He and others began a call to America to honor all of its history in 1915 with the thought that schools would adopt the knowledge and methodology to instill for the entire school year eventually. Why? He understood fully what it meant to be culturally responsive. Culture is not something that you celebrate during a designated month, week, or day. Culture is celebrated all the time.

So heed this warning, if you are not planning on celebrating culture all year long in meaningful and authentic ways, keep Black History Month. Something is better than nothing. The dilemma for most schools, churches, and community organizations is how does celebrating culture the entire time look. In short, the answer lies in first believing that culture matters on a deep level, that how we see the world comes through a cultural lens, which is typically a combination of our family, community, and heritage (generational). Secondly, the complexities of culture have to be understood and accepted. Ethnic identity is only one type of culture. We, as human beings, are comprised of many identities that are culturally based. Therefore, we have cultures directly related to our gender, religion, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, sexuality and so on. Lastly, the celebration of culture goes beyond pictures, stories, movies, and assemblies. The celebration is actually a respect that demonstrates how we interact with one another as adults and how we interact with the students in our classrooms, discipline offices, counseling services, and on athletic fields. Adults and students should feel honored, appreciated, valued,validated and affirmed every single day for who they are culturally. The call is not so much to end celebrating Black History Month, but to begin celebrating all cultures all year long, just like Carter G. Woodson desired.

One Comment on "Stop Celebrating Black History Month?"

  1. Tom Mar 3, 2011 · 8:45 am

    Well written, thank you for the post.

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