Sometimes people ask why we need to have a month dedicated to African-American culture and history. The obscurity of Robert Smalls’ story (see link below) helps provide the answer: our history is often neglected, rarely discussed, and seldom celebrated.
And when black history is spoken of, it’s most often focused on the broken: slavery, the Jim Crow era, and discrimination.
For you and I to grow in understanding our current cultural moment, we must be willing to do some research. For example, when those pictures of the Virginia governor wearing blackface surfaced this month, it wasn’t a mere political controversy. There is a historical reason for the outrage and disappointment.
I won’t give you that history lesson now. But understanding it puts Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s photo alongside someone dressed in Ku Klux Klan attire into perspective. The outcry isn’t some overreaction. Rather it’s the sorrow of seeing a young man ignorantly using a symbol of hate and discrimination for entertainment.
At the same time, let’s be cautious not to narrowly focus our attention on the sorrowful aspects of American culture and history and call it Black History Month.
I share more, including the story of Robert Smalls, in today’s World Radio segment: https://worldandeverything.org/2019/02/trillia-newbell-why-do-we-celebrate-black-history-month/.