And so it begins…Black History Month starts today on the heals of an insurrection by white supremacists who tried to literally overthrow democracy, the release of body cam footage showing police in Rochester pepper-spraying and hand cuffing a 9-year-old Black girl as she cried and pleaded for her father, and a massive racial reckoning that swept the globe with the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis. George Floyd’s brutal murder broke through the alabaster apathy quarantining in bunkers worldwide, causing an outpouring of anger and acknowledgement that systematic racism is real, and is in fact oppressing, brutalizing, and killing Black people.
So, bienvenue dans Black History Month, as egregious and grim events continue to imperil Black people, there are still events that uplift and express our collective Black excellence. From Darnella Frazier, who demonstrated focus and fearlessness while filming and exposing the murder of George Floyd, to Stacey Abrams, who mobilized voters in the face of MAGA mendacity to ensure that all people voted and that all votes counted including the votes of Black people, to Vice President Kamala Harris, whose lifetime of work and public service was realized with her historic election.
Carter G. Woodson, author, journalist, and historian, established Negro History Week in 1925, which was celebrated over the course of a week during February in 1926. Woodson’s Negro History Week was appreciated and grew in popularity. By 1976 the celebration of Black accomplishment and history was extended to the entire month of February, becoming what we now know as, Black History Month. Sure, February is the shortest month of the year, however Black folks always make the most of what we have, even when presented with the short end of the stick.
Historically Black people have been expected to cooperate with Caucasians in the face of our own unimaginable torment. To work with the very people who benefited from our destruction, and profited from our pain – we are still expected to unite behind America’s amnesia about white supremacy and simply move forward – get along and cooperate. The forward progress of Black people depends upon US remembering and honoring the past and all that occurred, no matter how artistic or agonizing, no matter how optimistic or oppressive, we must remember and honor our history. As we progress forward we cannot allow our history to be coopted in an effort to alter America’s transgressions, there is no advancement in cooperating when Black people, whom are expected to cooperate all the time, are not on equal footing. Honor Black history, and remember working together does not mean omitting facts. Cooperation does not automatically imply comfort for Caucasians. Black people must remember that our advancement is not dependent upon providing America absolution.
“Cooperation implies equality of the participants in the particular task at hand.” Carter G. Woodson