The Importance Of Black History Month

The Importance Of Black History Month

Leave your privilege at the door and start reading.
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“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
—Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut

The most frustrating thing anyone can hear this month is, "What is Black History Month?" Like many things, not everyone is educated on the importance and the reasons for having a black history month. In recent years there has been unneeded hate towards this idea. I will say this as bluntly as I can EVERY MONTH SHOULD BE DEDICATED TO BLACK HISTORY and don't even get me started on the comments about a white history month. So I ask as you read this leave your privilege at the door and learn something

Black History Month started by Carter G. Woodson in 1926 as "Negro History Week." It wasn't changed to a full month until the year 1976. Carter G. Woodson was a historian who dedicated his career to the field of African American history and lobbied extensively to establish black history month as a nationwide institution. Focusing on providing scholarly journals to schools as a tool to provide education on African American history.

The Iconic cartoon character Betty Boop was inspired by a black jazz singer Esther Jones, otherwise known as Baby Esther. Her trademark vocal style using "boops" and other childlike scat sounds. Although Esther Jone's baby style was one of the first like that other artist used her sound as inspiration which then led to the creation of the popular cartoon icon.

Rosa Parks wasn't the first woman who refused her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. March 2, 1955, a fifteen-year-old girl Claudette Colvin refused her seat. She like Rosa Parks was arrested and thrown in jail, as well as being one of four girls to challenge the segregation law in court. Browder vs. Gayle being the court case that overturned bus segregation laws. Due to Rosa Parks being an adult woman at the time as well as the secretary of the NACCP was believed to be a better icon for the movement than a teenage girl.

It's completely important to learn more this month about black history because it isn't just specifically black history, but history in general. If it weren't for many black inventors such as Dr. Shirley Jackson we wouldn't have had major developments in the creation of caller ID, touchtone telephones, or portable fax. Lewis Latimer who created the carbon filament which is an important component in making lightbulbs work. Otis Boykin who created pacemakers and the development of IBM computers.

There are still so many more influential African American inventors, historians, authors, etc. who have crafted America to how it is today. I urge you to further your education into the importance of this month and why african american history is so vital to our nation.

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." —Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court member

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.
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Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.




Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

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The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

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