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Is Black History Month Racist?

One of our readers posted the statement that Black History Month and other “Black-only” initiatives are racists since it excludes other races. i.e. Black College Fund, Black Film Festival, Black Entertainment Television, etc. So, we dare to ask the question… Is Black History Month racist?

We recently covered the Black Music Honors awards ceremony which awarded Black singers such as Angie Stone, Ginuwine, and Marvin Sapp. Here is the statement from the commenter regarding the ceremony:

RACIST, RACIST, RACIST!!!!! All races can watch, all races can give money, all races can attend, BUT! Only Black people are honored. I guess it would be different if it was White Music Honors. Funny how blacks can have;
Black History Month – No White History Month.
Black College Fund, UNCF.org – No White College Fund.
Black Film Festival, ABFF.com – No White Film Festival.
Black Entertainment Television, BET.com – No White Entertainment Television.
And white people are called prejudice and racist?!?!
If whites tried to start these, we would be sued and forced to take them down. I’m not prejudiced, just sharing the facts.
Yes we/anyone but black people, can observe, attend, and contribute to these organizations. But, no other race can participate because they are not black?!?! THAT IS RACIST!!!!

Terry Ray. Posted on July 4, 2021, at 12:34 pm

The short answer… ABSOLUTELY NOT!

We wanted to enlighten our associate, Terry, as to why Black History Month is NOT racist. Here is my opinion and the opinions of other dignitaries on the issue…

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Dear Terry, you are misguided in your “facts.” People with ignorant ideation like yourself are the reason why Black people are forced to create their own awards recognition ceremonies because they were excluded. You are completely unaware of systemic racism designed in the roots of America which did not pair Black people as equal to White people. You are completely unaware that when Black people were allowed acknowledgment, Black people were/are constantly passed over when compared to White counterparts.

Even in present-day awards ceremonies, Black people are barely getting nominated for their outstanding achievements in the arts- let alone be crowned for their accomplishments. Black people are oft the butt of snubs at awards ceremonies- so much that a few brave White comrades have spoken out to address this. It seems in recent years, Black excellence can only be awarded posthumously- as a charity trophy.

In regards to Black History Month, this educational month welcomes all races to learn about paramount achievements by Black people. Black History Month is about inclusion and enlightening to all about the forgotten and excluded. These milestones were purposely omitted from history books in which systemically erased Black names, glorified White counterparts, and in many cases rewrote a better narrative for White “history” in America.

I challenge you to research the real Thanksgiving or how did crack cocaine infest America. This type of mess happened countless times throughout American history. However, ignorant (and I mean that word in its purest defined form) people like yourself take offense when Black people have to create their own representation as a result of being excluded. I remind you, Terry, these are just a few (of many) forms of racism Black people deal with daily.

Racism Is A Mentality Of Control & Superiority

“Black History Month is not racist. Racism is defined as antagonism or discrimination against another group based on race. Black History Month provides an opportunity to highlight the achievements of black historical figures who have been neglected throughout history. Just look at past and today’s history textbooks and you’ll see that mostly white leaders are often honored as opposed to leaders of other races and ethnicities,” explains Marcos Martinez of Men Who Brunch.

Kyra Kyles, CEO of YR Media elaborates, “I challenge anyone who finds Black History Month and other Black-centric cultural and historical touchstones to be somehow divisive to instead focus their misguided energies on stamping out actual racism at its true roots. Black History Month is, in fact, a direct response to the widespread exclusion and erasure of what Black Americans have contributed to this country. The history we are taught is laser-focused on whiteness by default, and only recently have we seen the widespread toppling of monuments and statues dedicated to racists and known slaveholders. Our society has been conditioned to honor these individuals’ so-called accomplishments, far too many of which came at the expense and exploitation of people of color. Scholars, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, Isabel Wilkerson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Nikole Hannah-Jones, are providing critical lenses for us to understand the disparities in health, generational wealth, the legal system, government, and housing that plague the United States and will continue to do so until we commit to addressing, not erasing or sugarcoating, how this country came to be.”

Krya reflects on modern-day issues citing, “Even at this moment, we are dealing with hysterical and nonsensical attempts to prevent critical race theory, aka the truth, from being taught in schools because apparently white students are considered too fragile to learn more of the context behind the structural obstacles that keep our society both segregated and inequitable. Though it is somehow acceptable for their Black peers to come face to face with bigotry and historic roadblocks across housing, banking, the legal system, health and education from birth.”

Jenn O’Hara, CEO of Soba Recovery Centers explains, “Black History Month isn’t racist because black people have a long history of racial oppression in the United States. Black History Month is a way to lift up black voices as they’ve historically been unheard. No one is excluded from participating in Black History Month.”

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

“Without an incorporation of heritage and awareness months during which we highlight American minority group accomplishments and cultural contributions, there’s truly no way we could develop an appreciation for diversity. We have already seen what life in America is like without such initiatives, and the corporate world is not otherwise willing to promote diversity on its own. In short, it’s more racist to not have heritage and awareness months,” details Ivy Summer, a diversity and inclusion consultant.

“Racism is prejudice and discrimination against a minority group just because of their cultural background by the majority. With this definition, a minority group cannot be racist, although they can hold certain prejudices which simply means they hold bias. However, the caveat with racism is that the majority group holds the power and influence to lock minority groups out of spaces.” says Sydney James, a licensed clinical social worker and online therapist who owns Black On Black Therapy.

Sydney also comments on why this subject matter is important for mental health, “Black-only spaces and initiatives are important to mental health. Strong mental health is supported by having a sense of belonging and shared experiences which Black History Month and black-only spaces provide. These spaces are not meant to keep people out but to give the members of that group a safe space to show up as their authentic selves which supports healthy relationships and mental health.”

Black History Month Is A Celebration

Cameron Miller, CEO of Cameron Miller Real Estate shares two important reasons why Black History Month and other Black-only initiatives are not racist…

“Firstly, Black-only initiatives are a response to the injustices inflicted upon a historically disadvantaged social group. White history is already well-represented, not only in countries where whites form the dominant population but even in the global context. The history of the United States can not extricate itself from the history of slavery, a historical phenomenon that was used to further capitalistic interests and hence, white interests in the new continent. Black History Month serves as a reminder that justice is not yet fully served. They remind the nation how a specific group of people continues to suffer from different forms of discrimination and unequal treatment.”

Miller continues, “Secondly, and in my humble opinion, most importantly, Black History Month serves as a celebration of what the Black community has achieved throughout history despite being oppressed. As I like to say, a celebration to pay homage to the game-changers in the Black communities.”

Black History Month Is Greater Than Racism

I will conclude with an important summation from Andréas RB Deolinda, Writer, Poet, and Editorial Assistant at Autism Parenting Magazine.

It is important to research and learn about the background of these initiatives, to build an understanding of the history of Black individuals, and why there’s a need for this level of representation.

Since the inception of historical events such as slavery, colonization, and apartheid, the Black community has faced several acts of discrimination. Through these events, the voices of Africans have been shut down and have been made to feel silent. These celebrations are not intended to exclude other races, they’re founded on the need to uplift the Black community.

Black History Month is dedicated to educating and raising awareness of the histories of Black races, their struggles, and their origins. This goes beyond the stories of racism and slavery because it also highlights the achievements of Black individuals who have paved a way for current and future generations to live a life of dignity. It is about recognizing their achievements, strengths, and cultural heritage.

Initiatives such as Black College Fund are catered to historically underprivileged Africans or Black individuals who are, by virtue of history, by virtue of society and legislation discriminating against Black citizens, enforcing laws that benefit non-Black citizens. The socioeconomic divide is not balanced, where most Black communities fall below the middle-class socioeconomic status, with the majority falling into the low-class socioeconomic status, i.e. poverty line.

If we read back into history, Black actors were not allowed in films. Black actors had to work twice as hard, and fight twice as hard to be represented in films. Just as several other communities i.e. Asian, Latino, Hispanic, the Black community has created Black spaces because of the disadvantage when it comes to Black bodies. The initiative to create a safe space is important when the community, in particular, is considered a minority and is continuously being targeted by the majority.

Overall, these initiates are not aimed at placing preferences on certain races, they’re aimed at raising awareness of the plight, history, and reality of Black individuals across the diaspora. Can we say that books about African philosophy are biased, or discriminatory? No, just as well as Western philosophy sheds light on Western culture. Events and initiates that celebrate the Black community serve to educate and bring awareness to Black culture.

“I believe there is only one race… the human race.” —Rosa Parks

I invite anyone to speak on this issue as we can only understand one another when we effectively communicate with each other. Chat with us in the comments!

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