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Stop Dismissing Black History

Besides February first, Black History Month didn’t feel like Black History Month this year, and I haven’t quite figured out why.

One thing I do know is that the erasure of Black history and Black culture is alive and progressing at a concerningly rapid pace. A writer at Lawrence Hall described Black erasure as “often a deliberate and malicious act to ‘white wash’ something for public consumption.” I think part of why Black History Month didn’t feel the same—didn’t seem to hold the same prominence as the past—is because of the Black erasure.

The point of amplification came when Florida announced the rejection of Advanced Placement African American Studies on the college level. If you don’t remember this, turn on the news. This was major news and the final straw for a mass exodus of Black people from Florida.

Though it is the most notable, Florida is not the only state working to erase Black history, especially in the education system. Texas and Tennessee are right behind them. Oklahoma is up on the list too. I will never forget going to a plantation (unfortunately used as a photo shoot location that doubles as a museum), and instead of calling slaves “slaves,” they changed the appellation to “landless farmers.” I was immediately angry, and the room reached a level of tension I’ve never experienced before.

Arrman Kyaw for Diverse Education said it best: “This omission of Blacks from the narrative of the nation is partly motivated by society not wanting to confront truths about race and how legislation has deliberately kept disadvantages against African Americans in place…” When it comes to technology, we’re making advancements. When it comes to people and equity, we’re moving backwards in time, and hardly anyone seems to be noticing.

It is both interesting and annoying society is so quick to erase the history of Black people, yet we are the most innovative race. Society benefits from the genius of Black minds and the creativity of Black culture and the beauty of Black women but… where is the credit?

The same blogger for Lawrence Hall writes it perfectly, “Throughout history, Black people are not properly credited or referenced for the movements, ideas, and creativity that they’ve birthed…” We are innovators. We are creators. We are trend setters. We are doers. We always provide what is missing.

Where is our credit? Performative action in 2020, the shortest month out of the year, and one day in June is simply not enough.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and milestones made by Black people in this country despite the continuous oppression and racism. How are we supposed to do this when society is both erasing our history and stealing what makes our culture, our Blackness, so great without any credit?


RESOURCES:

Lawrence Hall: https://lawrencehall.org/blog/brave-conversations-black-erasure/#:~:text=What%20is%20Black%20erasure%3F,and%20contribution%20to%20the%20culture.

Arrman Kyaw for Diverse Education: https://www.diverseeducation.com/demographics/african-american/article/15638644/panel-erasing-black-history-threatens-to-harm-black-community-students-and-nations-future

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