Delegating months to cultural celebration is segregation

Corey Griffin, Business Manager

African American History Month has been contested since its creation and questioned whether it brings an overall benefit to society or creates a further divide between whites and blacks . February is the shortest month of the year, and each year African American History Month is confined to these 28 short days.  Awareness of the divide between Black and White people is central to the awareness of American History, and this month brings those issues into the spotlight.

History is crucial for understanding our society today, it contains knowledge that can bridge gaps. Raising consciousness of the lack of African Americans in history as it is taught in schools can correct people’s perception on other races. Confining the knowledge of a culture’s history to a single month is destructive because it does not open minds to acknowledging other people, it only makes those cultures separate from our everyday society.

The precursor to African American History Month was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and was designated to the second week of February. This week was chosen because it falls on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln as well as Frederick Douglass, and was meant to raise awareness of the traditions and struggles that African Americans went through in history.

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” Woodson wrote in his journal of African American History.

The problem is, when we segregate and delegate months to the history of race and ethnicity to months of the year, we are no better than the people of our past which segregated groups from society.

“I feel like just one month is discriminatory, in school we should learn about [the races] all year long,” Jelani Ladd, junior at Omaha North said.

If we are only taught about a group’s important contributions to society for a single month we are pushing ourselves backwards. History about ethnic groups should be equally taught all year long to retain a full understanding of how they created and morphed our traditions and opinions into the modern day. African Americans fought to get equal rights, to end slavery, and to end forced migration into the United States.

However African Americans are not the only group to undergo discrimination. Native Americans have been confined to reservations and forced across the countryside in droves to reach lands that were not suitable to farming or grazing. Chinese immigrants were banned from immigrating into the United States and existing immigrants faced persecution which was backed by the Chinese Exclusion Act, even during the Nanking Massacre.
All of these represent our history and should be taught to students to further understand the development of our country.

“I take pride in my culture and I am proud of this month, but we need to celebrate all not just one,” Taesia Page, sophomore at Omaha North said.

African American history month is a step in the right direction because it opens our eyes to a new perspective, but further discriminates the groups to a month when it needs full recognition all year round. Culture should be equally taught to everyone, it is the only way to combat ignorance in the United States.