There are many aspects that make February a significant month: Valentine’s Day, spring beginning to peek through, but the most important, in my opinion, is celebrating Black History Month.
Black History Month is a yearly celebration of African-American culture in which we remember significant individuals and moments and reflect on the adversity that many African-Americans have had to face throughout history. It began back in 1970 and was endorsed by former President Gerald R. Ford by urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
I think this is an important month because it is important to recognize the things we’ve done wrong in the past so that we can learn from them and not repeat them. We should be cognizant of these wrongs because, even to this day, police brutality is still an issue that we face along with racism. We should also keep these wrongdoings in mind because people of all kinds, including transgender, homosexual and countless others, still face discrimination as well.
Another important thing to acknowledge is that our country was very much built on the work of African-Americans without receiving any credit for a long time. I say this because in colonial times and onward in American history, the wealthy often thought that they were above doing manual labor and would have their empires built on the back of slave work. While we can’t take back the past, we can continue to educate future generations about the impact that all these people have had on our country.
I also think that recognizing African-American art and media is huge as well. I feel this way because I’ve noticed that in this age, music made by African-Americans in particular just automatically gets clumped into the rap/hip-hop or R&B categories when the music doesn’t fit that at all. In my opinion, this is just generalizing and honestly racist, especially since we don’t just automatically categorize all music made by white people into country.
An example of this is how recently Tyler the Creator’s album “Igor” was put into the rap category even though he considers it to be a pop album, and I feel like if an artist says that their art is in a certain category, then that’s what it should be because they were ultimately the one who made it.
On an earlier note, I also think there are so many incredible movies that truly have something meaningful to say about African-Americans as well as our history. A couple of examples of this at the top of my head are 2018’s “BlackKklansman” along with the 2013 drama “12 Years a Slave.” I commend Keene State for feeling the same way by having movies played in the Putnam that fit the theme of Black History Month.
At the end of the day, however, I think the struggles of African-Americans aren’t just something to be acknowledged for a month and then “back to normal.” We should continue learning about all kinds of struggles for all people, including African-Americans, year-round in order to ensure that one day we can live in a society where race, gender, sexuality and all other differences don’t matter.
DISCLAIMER: This article is the sole opinion of Cristian Valentin
Cristian Valentin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org