Throughout my academic career, I’ve been bombarded with social awareness events so much that I’ve started to become annoyed.
One such event is Black History Month, an event that began as a week but has since become a nationally celebrated month for the achievement of African-Americans. Being an African-American, you would think I’d be in support of such an event. However, I am not.
I want to note that I am not criticizing Carter G. Woodson, the initial founder of Negro History Week. I believe Woodson was an amazing scholar whose contribution to the advancement of the human race was indeed admirable.
However, I am against the specification of history in general. Implicit in one’s acceptance of black history is the view that there are unique differences to one’s race. I am not a proponent of said view. In other words, I do not believe race matters. In fact, America ought to move away from such a feeble view of the world. Race is meaningless.
Moreover, continually acknowledging the significance of the contribution of “blacks” reinforces the view that “whites” ought to be separated from “blacks.” Furthermore, while some deny this, it demonizes remarkable achievements by those who happen to be African-American.
If the aim is to make our society racially neutral in that race, in its socially constructed form, no longer plays a factor in our normal psyche, why continue to recognize it? If you want something to go away, it is simply counterintuitive to act as if it has any meaning.
Now, I am not arguing that we should simply deny the achievements of important historical figures like Harriet Tubman or Malcolm X. Rather, I am arguing that their achievements should not be marked off as black; they should instead be incorporated into a general historical context – an American historical context.
Race is a social construct, as I have stated. This is fairly uncontroversial. Yet when race is used as a mechanism in determining the superiority or the inferiority of one group to another, it becomes a problem.
Simply recognizing race as significant lends credence to those who support a eugenic view of the world. So, while it might seem innocuous to most when one waves an African flag or proudly proclaims one’s blackness, it is incredibly dangerous in that it perpetuates the view that America, and the world for that matter, should be viewed in black and white.
I mean, if it is legitimate to celebrate black history month, why not celebrate white history month? Some, foolishly, argue that all of history is white. Yet, this form of thinking is just as ridiculous as a Klansman who argues whites are naturally superior to blacks. Implicit in both is an acceptance of race that should be abnegated.
As humans, we ought to highlight similarities common to us all, rather than noting our differences. Recognizing race is overly simplistic. It is essentially equivalent to having a “blue eye” history month or a “blond hair” day. It’s ludicrous.
Yet, we continue to feed the very same monster we are trying to kill. If you want something to die from starvation, one way not to achieve this goal is to feed it.