Letter: Boycotting Black History Month

Letter to the Editor



To the Editor,

I cannot in good conscience, nor will I, celebrate Black History Month.

I am saddened by the fact that the recognition of the contributions of African-Americans (and multiple other ethnic groups) are reduced to a single month. The implicit statement that is made by such an assignment is that the rest of the year is reserved for the celebration of some other demographic, which has presumably added more to the American society and culture. Indeed, it is not difficult to deduce what group is so elevated; all one must do is identify the one group which is not relegated to a single month: White Americans.

While this is certainly insulting to all minority groups who find their contributions so reduced, it is especially egregious for African-Americans. People of color are further notified of the inferior status with which society regards them by the fact that theirs is the shortest month. With twelve months from which to choose, one would think that the group which gave us peanut butter, Jazz, civil rights, and our first black president would at least be given a month with 30 days. Evidently, Black history must be a shallow topic, as it may be fully celebrated in 28 days, or, on a leap year, 29. That such an obvious expression of racism is still so prominently extant in our country is clear evidence that there is so much more to be done to obtain equality for all.

Accordingly, I call upon all those committed to social justice to boycott Black History Month, and any other month so designated to patronize other minority groups. Until white Americans submit themselves to the same reduction which they have imposed on “other” Americans, we will never have a truly equal society. Establishing a “White History Month” would indeed be an important and symbolic gesture of solidarity with America’s minority population. However, given the temporal disparity in the months, this is an imperfect solution, and Black History would continue to occupy the least of the months.

Rather, we should fight to liberate ourselves from such artificial restrictions, and attempt to remain mindful about the contributions and histories of all Americans during all months of the year. Rather than a Black History Month, or Hispanic Heritage Month, or Indian Month, or Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, let us celebrate an American year, and so deliver another blow to the ugly reality of white privilege and dominance in our society.

Very Respectfully,

Seth Essendrop

Seton Hall Law, Class of 2002

Author: Editorial Board

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1 Comment

  1. Hello Seth, while your editorial was well written I believe you would do well to perhaps research the history of Black History Month. Let me offer some points as to how it came about and why February was chosen.

    In 1926 Carter G Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History declared the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. They chose this week because it coincided with both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Lincoln’s is Feb. 12th and Douglass’ is Feb. 14th.

    “Negro History Week” was created to ensure the passing on of black history. In hist words:

    “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”

    Moving forward in 1969 at Kent State University, the leaders of Black United Students proposed an expansion to Black History Month. In 1970, at Kent State the first Black History Month was celebrated.

    Black History Month was recognized nationally in 1976 as a part of the United States Bicentennial.

    On a more personal note Seth, I urge you to research the events with which you take offense to. I’m sure it was incredibly difficult for Mr. Woodson to enact “Negro History Week” in 1926, and to expand it into a month in 1969/1970 was no small task either. To boycott this is to turn your back on the hard work, persistence, and fortitude of the many great men and women that had this month recognized in the first place.

    This month is to remember the history and many accomplishments of black men and women in America.

    Also, while doing a little re-reading of the article you wrote I noticed some inconsistencies. On one hand you’re saying that it is insulting that Black History Month is the shortest month and by extension the least important and that to you is unacceptable. And on the other hand are saying that no ones accomplishments or history should be recognized apart from American history. Well, in most cases this is not a possibility. The greatest thing about America is the diversity that is contained within it. We should celebrate everyone’s heritage and history because it is all a part of our collective history in America.

    Seth I’m not sure of your ancestry, if you are Irish, Austrailian, Chinese, African, Native American, Haitian, Italian, Spanish, French or Maori. Whatever the case I would be honored to celebrate the achievements that your ancestors brought to America!

    Be Well and God Bless,

    Eric

    Didn’t go to College – Class of Never 🙂

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