What Is Black History?

Sweden Martin Luther King Jr postage stam (Photo by iStock)

I hate Black History. No, not really. But, now that I have your attention, I can begin.

I hate the perceptions and misconceptions that the phrase “Black History” breeds. It would appear that there is the Black History that we study during the shortest month of the year and then there’s the regular history that exits for everyone else the rest of the year.

There is a separation that simply shouldn’t be there; that should never have been there. Even well-versed teachers do not integrate the facts into the full picture that would simply be termed… “history.”

Garrett Morgan didn’t create traffic lights just for “Black people.” They are used throughout America and worldwide. There’s no way of extracting the significance of his work from history and relegating it to some pocket branch or labeling it as some perverted offshoot of reality. This is a mainstream historical fact that has affected millions, if not billions, of people.

Likewise, no one says that George Washington was the first President of “White America.” Regardless of your or my personal views on him, George Washington led the country as a whole and is remembered in that light. When Crispus Attucks died, it wasn’t just for “Black America,” much of which was still composed of slaves at that time. Regardless of his race, he was the first human being to die in the American Revolution.

African-Americans are responsible for the existence of things as diverse as air conditioning, cell phones, the space shuttle retrieval arm, the discovery of blood plasma, and the origins of various mythologies.

I don’t write that from a position of assumed superiority or embraced bigotry. I am simply trying to point out how incomplete the picture being presented to students has consistently been.

So called “Black Facts” are presented throughout Black History Month, often to the exclusion of all else. It would be so much more effective, if the so called “Black History” were integrated into the curriculum at the very beginning of the course work. That way, students could see how all of the events fit together and realize that there is only one tapestry . . . one tree with several diverse branches. There is actually no such thing as Black History. There is simply history. And I believe that we do ourselves and, most assuredly, our children a disservice by promoting a segregated, disjointed substitute.

Written by . Edited by Dave Dhanbeer.

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