Today is the last day of Black History Month for 2008. If I hadn’t known it was Black History Month I would have totally missed it because there was practically nothing to help identify it or honor it. I must admit that I don’t watch a lot of network television. It’s usually limited to the local news and the evening network news. But neither of these sources was very helpful in promoting Black History Month. I watched a little PBS every now and then and again I have to say very little news advertising Black History Month.
On the other hand, I hear some people saying that Black History Month is unfair. Why do black people need a month to recognize their history? Based on what I’ve seen what difference does it make? It’s not like all the television shows featured black people or the broadcasters decided to make black specials. There is virtually no difference between Black History Month and the month of November. Despite the fact that it’s Black History Month the primary focus is business as usual. The only news was about the various presidential primaries. Black History Month is no threat to the status quo of white people painted everywhere while black people remain an afterthought.
Why isn’t there a white history month? All I can say is what month isn’t focused on white history? I saw a movie about Medgar Evers featuring Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg and the movie was more about the personal love life of the lawyer who pushed to try Bryon de la Beckwith a third time for Mr. Evers’ murder. A soldier in the struggle to obtain civil rights for the black community is murdered in cold blood and his family is denied justice by the racist judicial system of Alabama. But the movie focuses on the attorney who gets a conviction. Generally speaking black history takes a back seat to white interest.
The only black history that gets told promoted in this country is the black history that conforms to the dominant culture’s white mindset and traditional propaganda. Propaganda teaches that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Black people everywhere are taught to love this man. But Mr. Lincoln was no friend of the black community. Abraham Lincoln is recorded as saying that he has no desire to make black people the equal of whites. In the perpetual struggle between the two races Mr. Lincoln wanted to assure white superiority and black oppression. But because the only black history we learn is the version publicized by the dominant community we are manipulated to celebrating the birthday of this racist.
What do some white people want to see in a month set aside for white history? I guess it’s not enough that every channel on television, with the possible exception of Black Entertainment Television, is overwhelmingly represented with white people, be they actors, news reporters, the focus of positive news stories, narrators, voices for cartoon characters, or anything else, with a percentage that far exceeds their approximate seventy percent of the total population.
Maybe some people want a white history month that has absolutely no black people on television, radio, or other venues of entertainment or information. That’s not a very tall order. In most popular television programs there would only be a single black person to let go if there are any at all. The number of programs that feature more than one obviously black person pales in comparison to the number of programs that feature no black people. And the number of shows that feature black characters that can serve as strong role models for black children and impressionable black adults seriously pales. If people wanted a month without seeing any black people on television I seriously doubt if they would notice the difference.
Black History Month is almost over. A few more hours and we can go back to the status quo of no interest in anything remotely considered black history. Black History Month is one of those things that sound a lot more impressive than its actual execution. As long as the black community has to depend on the dominant culture to provide the curriculum for our black history it will always be considered some kind of imposition that most would rather do without. The dominant community has nothing to gain from any focus on black history. Can they make it any clearer that the history of the black community doesn’t matter?