Black History Month was initiated to celebrate the culture and historical achievements of African Americans. Intending to be a month of optimism and triumph, I for one cannot help but feel pessimistic on BHM’s real contributions.
The concept of BHM is slightly belittling, it makes me wonder why only Black history? Why just one month? In my opinion all ethnicities should be celebrated. In particular, oppressed groups.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying BHM should be stopped altogether as it provides education that would otherwise be forgotten. But it should most definitely be adjusted to not only educate the younger black generation but inspire them.
Growing up in the UK, my experiences of BHM are minor and mainly focused on famous British individuals. In the US, BHM is also generally more focused on individual successes, intended to inspire the youth. The usual ‘if they can do it, you can too’ comes to mind. This negates from the sense of pride and enlightenment and, dare I say, patronizing.
Prominent figures like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Mohamed Ali are all role models, but there is no doubt a missing link that leaves the same group intended to be inspired, out of touch with BHM.
Some may think “what can be more inspiring than a Black President in office?”
But is that enough to both enlighten and inspire the younger generation or is presidency too big to influence the average locals? Unfortunately the latter seems most likely. The key is linking past struggles and achievements with today’s obstacles that will engage the younger audience.
Just to name a few contemporary issues you will find poverty, poor education and a racially prejudice jail system in America. Of course, at the heart of all this is inequality. Surely BHM should work as a tool to link the past and present where modern problems are addressed.
So long as BHM remains history centric, it will continue to be just that… History.