Although February has long past, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the month. Not on February itself, but more so on black history month and my thoughts surrounding it. I understand the reasoning behind the month but I think it is a bit outdated and perhaps irrelevant. I thought about this after a conversation with my dad. He was reading the newspaper and saw that a prominent Jamaican Canadian had died. He asked me if I had ever heard of him and I said no. What a shame that many people will not remember him or recognize the work he had done for the city, said my father.
His statement made me think about black history month; about how the focus is on history, and mainly American history at that. I think that it is extremely important to remember the past and those who sacrificed and fought for the lives we have now. Understanding the past helps us live in the present and plan for the future. But I also think that people seem to over look the present, not to mention the local. Not enough emphasis is being placed on people who are currently making a difference: the current black community. Those are the people who will serve as role models in the future, but are not getting the recognition they deserve now.
As a child, I always wondered why there was a black history month and not a Chinese, Filipino, Chilean or Irish one. I never understood, but I think I do now. I think it was created out of need for recognition of the black community’s place in modern society, especially after the events of the civil rights movements and such. There must have been great force behind it. But that place has been established. If the history is so important that it warrants a whole month, maybe this is an indication that it should be placed somewhere more permanent. In a curriculum perhaps, which talks about civil rights movements, on both sides of the border. A curriculum that not only includes the black community, but one that is more inclusive of other nations.
Canada has a strong European past, mainly French and English, and the history we learn is centered around that. Although in my opinion, there is not enough emphasis on other cultures, considering how multicultural and diverse we claim to be. Not only that, but it would also be nice to learn a bit about the history of the city you live in, how it came to be, the different groups that shaped it into what it is today. I know some cultures played a greater role than others, but that doesn’t mean they should be forgotten.
What I am trying to say is that black history month is not needed, but should rather be turned into an opportunity to learn about past contributions of various communities, as well as those who are still trying to improve the world today. All of this is unlikely to happen, because there is only so much you can teach and people are stubborn, but one can only dream.
P.S. Here’s a little life lesson for ya: “If a man is coming at you with a sword, run. Kung Fu doesn’t always work.” – Bruce Lee