Armani Jackson, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Black History Month became officially recognized in 1976 after enough white presidents thought it was time to start celebrating the unknown accomplishments of black people, a group of races starting to become the majority in some areas. Black history, however, started as Negro History Week by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans in 1915. This was due to the fact that Woodson saw that black people were “underrepresented in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history,” according to Time magazine.
The evolution to a month-long event occurred during the height of the Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s, and it continues to be celebrated according to history.com.
The problem here lies with the fact that black people accomplish things all the time and one month doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s all too often that someone pulls up Google and the front page is glorifying another birthday of some white person. It’s discouraging. The month was created out of concern and oppression, which was great for the time, but being in 2017, it’s baffling that oppression and racism still has to be talked about.
In a country where citizens are told that they’re blessed with all the freedoms, it’s not right that anyone who is black or mixed with black is paraded around for 28-29 days of the year. It can’t be fair that blacks are appreciated this one time, as an exception when white people are given trophies and prizes every day.
It’s hard to talk about this kind of oppression as the only person of black descent on the news staff. Puyallup is an 84 percent white city, according to the U.S. Census, so it makes sense that this school will reflect the greater community. But, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the only partially black person on staff. It’s got to be bigger than that. It’s not fair that this writer has to sit here and try to represent the feelings of the entire black community when she’s only half of it. But, it can’t be delegated to someone else because white people, at least at this school, aren’t opinionated about the topics affecting those around them.
Nayaba Arinde, the editor of Amsterdam News, mentioned some pivotal points in a piece she wrote for CNN on Feb. 23. A key aspect of Black History Month is the acknowledgment that black people had a relative triumph during the African Holocaust, also called the Maafa meaning “Great Disaster” in Swahili. The term was introduced by anthropologist Marimba Ani in her 1994 book tilted Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior. In the book, she talked about how black people were impacted (more specifically devastated) by enslavement, imperialism, colonialism and Jim Crowism.
Based on this, it would make sense to conclude as to why black people wouldn’t seek validation for their celebratory month from white people, Arinde said.
This celebration is forgotten by white people up until Jan. 20, through Feb. 12 (mind you they take a break for Valentine’s Day) and picked up again for maybe a week until they realize that St. Patrick’s Day is coming.
But to someone who identifies with black, this history and culture emanates from their bones. These people have shaped their entire culture as well as how black people view themselves in today’s society. It can’t be fair that people forget about the struggles black people face for 11 out of the 12 months. Black history needs to be something that’s celebrated every day along with white history. It’s time that people realize that black people have been here for a very long time and have created things that a lot of people enjoy.
It’s discriminating to have a month to talk about black people’s accomplishments when it’s something that a month can’t contain. It’s so sad to live a life not embracing your blackness because of what white people try to do to make up for their mistakes. White people will never be able to repay black people for what they have done and continue to do. Assuming that one month can encompass everything black people accomplish is ignorant.
So, here’s to another year of discrimination, oppression and people telling you that black people don’t do anything unless it’s talked about in the month of February.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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