Why We Need Black History Month
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Why We Need Black History Month

And why a White History Month is out of the question.

Why We Need Black History Month
San Francisco Bay View

Many Americans seem to believe the goal of racial equality has been reached. I mean we have a black president, why on earth would we still need a Black History Month? Or, as if it is some sort of compromise, we can keep Black History Month but also need to add a White History Month. This is not only ridiculous but points to a frightening degree of ignorance, both to the presence of racism (yes, even in 2016) and to the original intention of Black History Month. Before anyone writes this off as white guilt, take a look at these five studies that highlight racial bias of our society as a whole which is still perpetuating. As a result, there are three major reasons we need to keep Black History Month and absolutely do not need a White History Month.

Black History Month, was not always a month. When it was first started by historian Carter G. Woodson, it was named “Negro Heritage Week” and was to be celebrated the second week of February, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, an African American social reformer and abolitionist. Negro Heritage Week was meant to be a week long remembrance, not of African American history, but African Americans in history. Only decades later, in the wake of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, did it become Black History Month after President Gerald Ford first officially recognized it as a month in 1976. He argued that it was the American public’s duty to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. Since 1976, every president has designated February as Black History Month.

The reason for the emphasis on black history is due to the tendency of United States history to be whitewashed in an attempt to point to American exceptionalism. While we are not the only country in the world to try to emphasize the good and ignore the bad in our past, it does set a dangerous precedent. In recent years, there has been a debate about changing the Advanced placement United-States History (APUSH) course so that it focuses on “American exceptionalism” as opposed to being critical of our nation’s history. While on the surface it seems like a harmless idea, it is necessary to consider how that will affect racial issues. For example, slavery happened, no one argues about that, but when we discuss the Civil War, it conveniently becomes about states rights. The errors made throughout American history become meaningless when glazed over to emphasize the successes.

One of the major complaints against Black History Month is that supporters of the month are perpetuating a double standard by celebrating the heritage of African Americans while seemingly ignoring the achievements of white historical figures. This line of “logical” thought ignores the fact that equality is not a zero-sum game, meaning that contrary to popular belief, just because someone “wins,” does not mean that someone necessarily has to lose.

Exhibit A: Backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement. Critics who argue that “all lives matter” are missing the point. Ideas like Black Lives Matter and Black History Month are not arguing that black lives or black history are more important than other races’. They simply want to emphasize that there is a trend against minorities that is often overlooked by the general population. In short, "all lives" can't matter until we accept that "black lives" do matter.

Imagine a different scenario, like illness. When we remove race from the equation everyone starts to be a bit more rational. Saying “all lives matter” or “if you want a black history month, then we need a white history month” is like going to school and when a friend announces they have a terminal illness, saying “well I’m sick, too” because you have the flu. No one would do that because we realize how ridiculously insensitive and selfish it is.

Black history month does not propose the idea that white history does not matter, it points out that in the US white history has always mattered. To argue that the history of blacks and whites have been equally celebrated is inaccurate, and to go a step further and argue that we need a white history month in addition to black history month is to create a false equivalence. Black history month does not argue against white history, it argues that black history has been overlooked.

It becomes very clear that when the necessity of a Black History Month is affirmed, then any possibility of a need for a white History Month goes out the door. We cannot emphasize the history of the majority without taking away from the history of minorities, something that has been done since the conception of the United States.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments