Who Needs Black History Month?

By Melyanet E.

Every year, the same thing. Every year, the same names. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, etc, etc. We read the same books, dance the same African dances, and listen to the same speeches from the Civil Rights era. 

For the first few years of my childhood, Black History Month was a time everyone looked forward to. It was always the time when our teachers taught us about people we all wondered about, those that came before us, that actually resembled us. But as soon as you got old enough to realize that every single year it was always the same people, fighting for the same old thing, you got bored and found no value in any of it. It was no longer a fun celebration of black pride, it was tedious, to say the least. For all of these years, I was almost fooled into believing that this was all there was to learn and all there was to being a person of color. 

   After watching Stacy Dash's interview and seeing Whoopi Golberg ask her white co-host on The View, "What do you know about black history?" All I could think of while waiting for her response was, "Don’t you dare speak about Martin Luther King Jr. or slavery." You know something is wrong when nothing else comes to mind. 

I bet if I asked the average teenager, outside of my class, they would be stuck too. It seems like all they teach in schools is slavery and civil rights, but there's more to the story. It's a shame that some schools only have space to be given during February for the story to be taught, but if Black History Month is the only time that this forbidden knowledge is going to be explored, then it most definitely should be given in a much more creative way. 

However, I don't believe that Black History Month should be the only designated time for learning about our true history. We should be taught to celebrate our skin everyday. Additionally, people who are not members of the culture should not be deprived of this history either. We all have to begin educating ourselves. February, to me, should be considered the training wheels on the bike of black cultural appreciation. Get the wheels rolling with black history, then eventually evolve into a society that celebrates black culture every day, in every way. 

Unfortunately, as a society, acknowledging the contributions that our culture has made for America, as a community, is still in an infantile stage. It's like a baby, taking its first step. Nervous and afraid of what will happen if black people are empowered with enough self love to go from crawling around the earth to running it.

Melyanet E. is a 13 year old Dominican-American 8th grader from Harlem, NY. She loves creating abstract art through pictures and poetry.