Saturday, February 08, 2014

Black History Month

Let's talk about this: Black history, people, race and why we do talk about it so much.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about Black History Month. On the one hand, I am happy that  the history of black people is officially acknowledged. On the other hand, I am sad that there has to be a separate history for one race of people in a country made up of many races.

I feel the same way about racial designations. Why are there hyphenated Americans? And, since we do hyphenate, why not hyphenate everyone?

This is not the first time (nor will it be the last, God willing) that I post about racial issues. The issues exist, but we are all just people. Black, brown, white, red, light, dark, tanned; attractive, plain, unattractive; silly, sweet, ignorant, kind, caring, dumb-ass; smart, dumb, nice, hateful, petty, selfless, rude, sensitive, cruel; famous, infamous, unknown; rich, poor, frugal, spendthrift, struggling; admirable, embarrassing; sinful, saintly and... human.

I've not remained strictly constant on how I look at racial issues. Opinions and emotions and reactions never are constant. On issues of race, sometimes, I've been angry. I've sometimes been just irritated. There have been times when I've felt race matters very much, and times when I've wished it didn't. Sometimes, it's mattered more to other people than to me. It's mattered in subtle ways and in ways that were uncomfortable.

(Let me go ahead and get the whole "first black President" thing out of the way: Yes, I was elated by the election of Obama. I'm not always thrilled with what he's done in office, but I am still happy that voters were able to put him there. I'm more happy with what I think of as the "wall of color" being battered down than I am with the man who stepped over the threshold.)

Don't get me started again on my rant about being so hyphenated. I've said it before: I am a Black-American (if it has to matter) and Charlize Theron is an African-American (if she has citizenship ~shrug~). My point is, I came from Texas, not Africa. If we want to get ancestral, there are some people who believe we may all be hyphenated Africans. Or maybe we should be hyphenated Asians.

For myself, I believe we all have roots in Eden. And does it matter where we 'originated' if we create a hell here on earth by battling over the differences?

Tell you the truth, every February I forget that it is Black History Month until about the second week in. I'm going to get heat for this but... after the first celebration, it stopped being that big of a deal for me. What would impress me is if all people remembered every month of the year that we are equal and American. No greater than someone from Japan or Ireland or Jupiter. Just equal and human.

Am I disregarding the hardships of being black? No. I just think that one of the hardships is that we still are dealing with the effects of racism. Long after the end of slavery (for American blacks), there is still racism and plenty of other ignorance - by all races.

It's ignorant for people who are not black to say that race never matters.I'd like to ask the most ignorant of that group: If it never matters, would you trade your race for being black for a year? It's ignorant when people who are black act like history doesn't matter. I'd like to ask the most ignorant of that group: If someone died for equal education, why aren't you taking advantage of that right?

Black History Month will soon end for the year. Being black - being whatever race - is forever. We have to work at making life the best it can be every day that we live.