Black History Month is always a tricky diversity subject for me. Like many things in diversity, there are passionate, divisive positions about it.
By MICHELLE T. JOHNSON
Special to The Star
I understand the people who believe that Black History Month needs to be highlighted more than it sometimes is because America knows so little about the variety, depth and expansiveness of African-Americans in our society.
On the other hand, I understand the perspective of the people who believe that having one short month spotlighting blacks in America serves as a pass to ignore the accomplishments of blacks throughout the rest of the year.
My perspective is a bit of a hybrid.
I understand that some organizations require that extra reminder that our country needs to view a significant segment of our society beyond just slavery and Martin Luther King Jr. I particularly understand that with an African-American president and other visible leaders, many think that weve arrived on this issue.
But I also understand that Black History Month can be viewed as a form of marginalization where mainstream America patronizingly acknowledges accomplishments in a visible way for one month and then gets to weave it into the more inclusive, inseparable mosaic that makes up America.
My view is that Black History Month is a necessary spotlight. However, I believe that the spotlight needs to be more expansive, instructive and relevant than our country has made it in recent years.
Additionally, I believe that we need to make sure that we are able to have the same dedication to, and focus on, events and people that highlight the contributions of ALL ethnicities and races. To do so isnt to fragment America but to acknowledge that this country has always been a quilted mosaic.
Personally, what I think needs to shift about Black History Month is not whether its existence is still relevant but rather how we can make its existence more relevant.
In other words, instead of focusing so much on black Americans in days past a topic that should be covered in history classes anyway there she be concentrated attention paid to current facts regarding African-Americans in our society.
Facts regarding employment and unemployment, health care and disease, education, and the multitude of ways that blacks in America are collectively having a different experience. The point wouldnt be to highlight negativity or justify anything, but rather to provide focused insight into what it truly means to be black in America beyond sound bites and assumptions.
If we made these concentrated efforts for all groups in America, it would be far more difficult for so many fallacies and stereotypes to walk around masquerading as facts or informed opinions.
Black Appreciation Month has a ring to it to me.