Black history month kicks off

If they recognize it at all, many simply go through the motions of Black History Month.

Black History Month has sadly been thrown into a reductive category of unimportant declarations and celebrations. Tell the average American that it is Black History Month and you are likely to get a shrug and a slothful, “Oh yeah?” Maybe it’s because of the word “history.” There should be a lot more to Black History Month than remembering Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

This month is not meant to celebrate an end to racial inequality – an end yet to be achieved. Rather than being treated as one month, separate and unconnected to the rest of the year, Black History Month should serve as a year-round reminder that the issues of the past are still important.

If it is recognized at all, Black History Month is many times treated as a run through the motions. There is far more to the month than the civil rights movement. It is a time to find solutions to the current issues of ailing inner-city schools and the disparity of incarceration rates. It is also a time to acknowledge advancements, such as the increase of black families moving into the middle class and the increasing number of black college graduates.

Black History Month should not be used as an excuse to castigate, either. Rather than simply placing blame on athletes and “gangsta” rappers for perpetuating negative stereotypes, Black History Month should serve as a forum to discuss these topics. The Boston bus riots of the 1970s, George Washington Carver’s many inventions and King’s speech at the University less than a year before he was assassinated are some of the many interesting historical items that can be a catalyst for discussing contemporary concerns.

Black History Month should not be used as an excuse to believe that race matters no longer matter or that they are important only for the month of February.