Another February has arrived, and along with all of the hearts and flowers for Valentine’s Day, Americans are observing what, in 1976 was dubbed, “Black History Month.” Expanded from “Negro History Week,” this month of education and observation is to pay tribute to the African-Americans who got left out of our country’s history books because of the color of their skin.
In the view of humanitarianism however, setting aside a week or month to pay special attention to one culture or race seems to just further the separation between them. Judgments and racism will unfortunately always exist, at least during this writer’s lifetime. It is puzzling why we, as Americans – no matter what color, ethnicity, language or culture, would want to separate ourselves when we continuously say that we want to be one people. We want to be human beings and more specifically, Americans. So why draw more attention to the differences between us?
That’s not to suggest that each culture doesn’t have anything valuable to celebrate. And it’s not to negate the fact that many black Americans were not included in very important times in our history. But what if the history books could be re-written? What if they could include every race and ethnicity that helped make this country great? Would it be so important to have a week or a month set aside for a certain race then?
In 2005, the TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes featured guest Morgan Freeman, a popular black actor. Mr. Freeman told anchor Mike Wallace that Black History Month was “ridiculous.” “Why?” asked Wallace. “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” asked Freeman. “Which month is Jewish History Month?” Wallace indicated that no such month existed. “Do you want one?” Freeman asked. “No, no,” responded Wallace. “Well,” Freeman concluded, “I don’t want a Black History Month, either. Black history is American history.”
And so is Vietnamese history, Italian history, British history, Portuguese history, Chinese history and on and on. Let’s focus on being Americans, loving Americans and supporting Americans. Like it or not, we are all in this together and cooperation infinitely outweighs separation.