In war, help truth is the first casualty. ~Aeschylus
In a world where facts don’t seem to matter, pills it becomes increasingly difficult to have patience
with the notion that the arc of history is indeed bending towards justice. There’s a lot of chatter
out there on social media networks and the pundit talk sphere about the relevance or “need”
for Black History Month. I’ve heard everything from we should get rid of Black History Month
altogether, remedy because it’s just divisive and un-necessary, to Black History needs to be incorporated into the teaching of American History, because after all, it is American history. If Black History were actually included in U.S. history lessons from start to finish in a relevant and integral way, as should the histories of other ethnicities of Americans, the frustration and angst that permeates the atmosphere around these conversations would be either nonexistent or severely tempered.
The history of the United States should be inclusive of the histories of Asians, Latino and Indigenous Americans, as well as the specific histories of women of all ethnic origins, instead of perpetuating the mythology that the great white male patriarchy built this nation with its extraordinary courage, tenacity and rugged individualism. The romanticized notion of the so-called Founding Fathers needs some rigorous interrogation.
A history that truly reflects the contributions made by all people in the U.S. would make designating specific months to specific people groups almost un-necessary. But alas, as long as we continue to perpetuate the mythology of our origins as a nation, we will continue to need “Black History Month” and all of the other historically designated months in order to address the preverbal WAR with reality that chooses to ignore the truth of our national history, and instead continues to be at WAR with the reality that the history of the United States of America is complex and intensely complicated.
James Baldwin so appropriately addressed its conflicted legacy when he wrote the following:
“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”– A Talk to Teachers (1963).
There is such denial in this country about our history, we struggle with ourselves and one another over who should be included and who should not. We resist un-learning the incomplete truths, mis-representations and outright lies we have been taught to believe instead of recognizing our education in this regard has been deficient. The challenge we all face is to have the courage to confront that history, to learn that history, and come to celebrate the truths of that history without having to go to WAR with one another about its sometimes harsh and unyielding reality. Because, unless we are brave enough to face what we do not know and have not learned about our past, we cannot truly build the future that we all hope to have.
What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise.
Up Next Week: Some Women You Should Know