I used to be perplexed by our culture's need to praise certain elements of society by dedicating a holiday to their likeness: International Women's Day, Veteran's Day, even Black History Month. All of them seemed to be a condescending way to pacify the need to give all people the same human-born respect we deserve.
Why do we need a holiday to celebrate women? Can't we just treat women with respect every day and do away with the one day of pageantry? Why does our country value Veterans for one day? Wouldn't it be great if our culture showed the same type of single-day-respect for the tens of thousands of homeless veterans every day of the year? I thought the same in regards to Black History Month: why do we regale black history to only one month? Why can't we teach black history as general history instead of furthering the already-apparent difference of skin colors?
As I mulled this over more and more, I realized that I long misinterpreted these 'celebrations.' So often our culture hastily acknowledges the given day/month/event, without truly understanding the current and historical implications of the actual people we are honoring. These holidays, if you will, should be celebrated, but they should also be treated as reminders; a reminder that women are still underpaid and over-harassed in the workplace; a reminder that countless military veterans are suffering from PTSD, drug addicition, and depression resulting in a suicide rate of nearly 20 lives per day; a reminder that racism is taught and cultivated in a large part of our country and black people are still systemically treated as less-than-equal humans and suffering from murder rates well beyond that of any other race.
I propose that what sets Black History Month apart from the other "celebrations" our society has constructed, is that it is clearlydefined by color and that makes even the most-woke a little uncomfortable. I used to think it was not my role to teach my kids about Black History because it wasn't my history to tell. I felt I had no right to talk about such sacred events of the black community, but here's the kicker: it is my history. It is all of our history. The uncomfortable part of teaching it and in turn, celebrating it, is the inevitable recognition as to which side of the clearly defined, historical line you fall on. There is no way around the fact that black history is intrinsically linked with segregation, violence, slavery and evil at the hands of white people.
So fellow white people, I'm here to tell you that you can and you should celebrate Black History Month. The thing we need to do as white parents, however, is not shy away from the reason many black historical figures are hailed as heroes and spoken about to this very day: they challenged the system of the white majority and that white majority was complicit to awful, evil acts upon other humans based on the color of their skin.
To assume we don't have the right to talk about black history is another way in which we are inadvertently allowing racism to flourish. We need to address it head on and we can do so by teaching about it and by celebrating the many advancements of historical black figures, despite the adversity they faced.
I know it sucks to have to inadvertently align yourselves with the bad guys in historical accounts of courageous black people, but that is the undeniable history of America. White parents, remember that if you find it difficult to talk to your white kids about racism, it is MUCH MORE difficult for parents to talk about racism with black children; the children that are statistically more likely to be a victim of racism (source). We will never know how to be better if we don't know how we are flawed.