Valentine's Day (although a completely commercialized holiday) provides a wonderful opportunity to think about an ever-important topic. A topic we do not spend nearly enough time thinking about and walking out in day-to-day life...
And not just love for our sweethearts, love for our children, or love for our friends. How about LOVE for our fellow man... even those "different" from ourselves?
For years, people have talked about "tolerance" as the best way for people who are different to get along. I totally disagree.
I don't want you to tolerate me. I need you to see me as a human who has gifts, talents, dreams -- no matter my skin color. But I also need you to be okay with the fact that my skin color may be different than yours. I need you to value me -- without adding qualifiers (i.e. "And she's a black woman!") -- when I do something great.
And I would expect you to need those same things from me.
Now, not only does the month of February bring us the celebration of love, it also brings us Black History Month. In all its glory.
Black History Month needs to go away. And it should have gone away a long time ago. Are you shocked I would say such a thing? Well, let me pose a question: Do we have White History Month? No, we do not.
In 1926, historian Carter Wooden announced the second week of February as Negro History Week. In 1976, it was adopted as Black History Month by the federal government. Woodson, however, initiated the week back in 1926 with the hope that it would eventually be eliminated when black history became a fundamental part of American history.
Just as white history is fundamental to American history.
Black history, as well Hispanic history and others, need to be integrated into our educational system and curricula and taught at all levels. Not just during one month of the year. And not just as a sidebar feature in a textbook.
The contributions of African Americans simply are not authentically integrated into our society. People are still shocked by the contributions of African Americans... as if they're not capable! And THAT must change.
For example, I've been around five decades (give or take a few), and I JUST learned about the black women who played a role in every war in U.S. history. I've asked several other people (of various ages and backgrounds) if they'd ever heard about or been taught this. None had. How is that possible?
Children, in particular, need the opportunity to view black people as value-added contributors to society. The perspective of who is valued on the face of this planet shouldn't be shaped from the bias and perspective of Anglo-Europeans.
To move forward, African Americans need to find their own voice. They need to strengthen their image of themselves. We are still ridding ourselves of old tapes that limit our comfort with who we are. We need to reframe our story and expand our own knowledge of the great contributions made by African Americans.
According to a January 20, 2103, CBS report by Tavis Smiley, "Our future as a nation depends on how seriously we take the legacy of Dr. King: Justice for all, service to others, and a love that liberates people."
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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