Despite the fact that my beloved Ravens won the Super Bowl earlier this month, I will continue to despise the month of February. You may be asking what the month of February has ever done to me? For starters, year after year, February offends me with its cold and harsh weather. It seems as if every year on Feb. 1, right on cue, I catch a cold. Secondly, the most dreaded day of the years falls within the month of February. This day is without a doubt Feb. 14, better known as Valentine’s Day. I have my own theory that candy companies, jewelers, florists and women everywhere met in secret and devised a plan to sucker men out of their money, as well as their ever-growing egos. It is also a day that single men and women alike must witness happy couples divulging in cheesy romance and rampant PDA. Lastly and most importantly, February is also known as the ridiculous “African-American History Month,” the most ludicrous of all of February’s injustices. As you can now see, by the time March comes around I begin to realize that I am blessed by the fact that February is the shortest month of the year.
To begin my rant, I would like to state that I am not merely casting away Black History Month, but also questioning the basis on any month that delineates the history of an entire people. My argument is probably best expressed by Morgan Freeman’s quote: “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” What Freeman is getting at is that if certain months are dedicated to learning the history of particular minority groups in America then the learning of that history will become relegated to and contained within that month. One thing I remember about February when I was in primary school was the ridiculous focus on African-American history in every single class. In English class, we would only read books by black authors; in history class, we learned about the Civil Rights movement; in science class, we learned about black scientists and inventors, and in math class, don’t worry, we still learned about boring old arithmetic. To be honest, by the end of the month I was starting to feel a little “black-ed out.” If I had heard the name Jackie Robinson one more time, I would have stopped playing sports altogether. However, that wouldn’t last very long because for the rest of the school year I can’t quite remember learning much more about any American-Americans.
One thing we must look at is the different effects of containing our education of African-American history in one month. In February, my teachers ended up separating everything else we learned throughout the year from things we learned about African-Americans. This separation causes African-Americans to be stored in a different category in one’s mind. For example, George Washington Carver is not famous for being one of the most innovative inventors of all time; he is famous for being a black inventor, although, along with other inventions, he created 285 additional uses for something as simple as a peanut. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t famous for being arguably the most effective activist of all time; he is famous for being a black activist although his message covered many topics outside of racial issues. Jackie Robinson isn’t famous for being one of the greatest baseball players of all time; he is famous for being the first black player, although he played in six World Series, won the MLB Rookie of the Year Award, the National League Most Valuable Player award and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
We must work to realign African-American history with American history. The accomplishments of African-Americans should not be seen as more or less important than those of others. However, by isolating a minority group’s “history” into one out of nine months of the school year, one is inadvertently saying: “Yes, the history of African-Americans (or women or LBGT groups) is more or less important than others.”
In order to solve this problem, the first thing we need to do is rid America of these “history months.” Next, we need to make sure that, in textbooks, instead of comparing King’s impact to Carver’s, King should be compared to similar figures such as Gandhi, whereas Carver should be compared to Leonardo da Vinci. It must also be noted that when I ask for them to be compared, I am not requesting for Carver to be called the “Black Leonardo,” which is what Time Magazine referred to him as in 1941. If these things are done, they will make quite an impact against the segregation of minority groups in American society. I hope you, as readers, can begin this movement to rid us of these months because my only mission at the moment is to survive the next nine days. However, if you believe in the effectiveness of these months and continue to contribute to the segregation of America, I hope you remember that it’s not me, it’s you.
Deon Thomas is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s Not Me, It’s You appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.