Black history should be incorporated year round

Alana Profit and Mickey Caulfield, Alana Profit, and Mickey Caulfield

One month for Jack-o’-Lanterns, one month for Christmas trees, and one month for black people. Although it was founded to remind Americans that black people did have history, Black History Month has now become an anachronism, one of the last bastions of the segregation it was formed in opposition to.

Black history is part of American history; just like isolating women to one day of a unit in a history class demeans their contributions, saving February for black people belittles them on the whole. Instead of the easily-skipped side column in the history book or the February-exclusive poster, black people should be incorporated in the rest of history where they did things that would normally be included, and when black people––or any other demographic for that matter––weren’t given the chance to make history, the injustices that made this the case should be noted.

This is already the case. Every modern American student is aware that when the founding fathers said “all men are created equal,” a significant portion of the American population was excluded. Every word of praise laid upon Thomas Jefferson and George Washington is tempered with a reminder that these men owned slaves. The accomplishments of black leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are at least as celebrated as those of any white political leaders, and more than most.

Dividing history into black and white history, American and European, or scientific and artistic is an ineffective tool for teaching; it promotes knowledge of isolated events in history but leaves students in the dark as to how they connect to each other. History is not a list of isolated events where “black history” includes slavery and the Civil Rights Movement and “white history” is everything else. History is the study of the human past, of the never-ending chain of causes and effects that lead up to the present, and should be viewed holistically.

To those who say that Black History Month is necessary because every month is white history month, it’s worth pointing out that a disproportionate amount of American history involves white people because a disproportionate number of Americans are white. America has never been more than 15 percent black; it’s not a surprise that they don’t make up half of the content of the history books. Although nobody’s denying that discrimination played a major role in this for most of our nation’s history, getting out the old Rosa Parks bulletin board for 28 days a year isn’t the answer.

We should be celebrating black people, but not merely because of the simple fact that they’re black. Racism can only really be over when skin color is not a factor in judging someone’s character or historical importance, even when it’s considered a positive.