The celebration of Black History Month is contested with some arguing that it relegates Black History to just one month of the year. However, Sherelle Davids, LSESU Anti-Racism Officer, argues that Black History Month is not the cause but the effect of sidelining of Black History in our education system.
October in the UK marks the month of Black History – a month which is supposed to be a time when we emphasise the importance of black participation and experience throughout history.
Ever since I can remember, Black History Month has been a time when we discuss the lives of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and other famous black icons throughout history.
While there is much that can be criticised, it was the one and only time I got to learn about history that was remotely relevant to me, in school. While history taught in the British education system is Eurocentric, Black History Month is a time when the system is pressured to step outside of that small box.
Figures such as Morgan Freeman have criticised Black History Month in the past as it is seen as relegating fundamental parts of history to one month and therefore making it subservient to the history of the dominant culture, White History. I too believe that Black History is considered and treated as inferior to White History. Where I disagree is the idea that Black History Month is the cause of that. The reason why Black History is pushed aside in our society and in our education system is rooted in racism.
Criticising people who make an effort within the Month is not helpful and more importantly inaccurate. A month dedicated to Black History, if done correctly, can counteract the neglect it faces within education system. It’s a time when contribution of black people in our society is emphasised and held up on a platform as something that should not just be taught but celebrated.
Although I am an advocate of the Month, I do not think it is perfect in its current form. The Month often focuses on men and has a habit of modifying radicals, for example Nelson Mandela, and focusing on black people post slavery. These are all things that need to change in order to stop Black History Month from being repetitive and irrelevant.
If Black History was to fade away what opportunity would black people in the UK have to learn about their past? Black History Month came out of a necessity; there was no space for it in the curriculum, so until that issue is addressed it must always remain.
Black History Month should not be used as an excuse to forget about Black History for the other 11 months of the year. It should act as an opportunity to fight for having Black History incorporated into our education system. There is no reason we should not politicise Black History Month and use it to campaign to get Black History into the curriculum and regarded just as important as European history.
The fact that we still need a month where we highlight Black History is symbolic and not the cause of its inferiority. We have a responsibility to our black children to keep Black History Month going. It’s currently taking the place of something our education system is not providing and needs to continue filling that gap until the racism that is entrenched in our education system is abolished.
Sherelle Davids is a 19 year old from South London, studying Sociology at the LSE. She is currently in the role of Anti-Racism Officer of the LSE Students’ Union. She is working on bringing Black History Month back to the union with renewed vigour.
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I think before making a decision about your stance on this topic, take into consideration how many would take offense to there being a “White History Month”. Black History Month was created to show the attributes of a race that was thought to be lower than and minor. Why do we still need it if we are at a point in history that Black people are no longer ashamed to be who they are and equality, along with tolerance, is growing? The love among races is ever present now.
Assuming that Black history will no longer be if Black History Month is done away with is absurd. Black history AND “White History” will be taught together. They will be equal. No matter what race it belongs to, history is still history.
Having a separate month for Black history is just another form of segregation among races. It’s ludicrous that most people are so caught up in their emotions to realize this. “HOW SO,” you ask. I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Abolish Black History Month” is…”Racists! They want to get rid of MY Black history?!” For me what I think is…”Black history is finally seen as being equal to “White history”! Instead of learning about a few accomplishments of my fellow brethren, I can learn about them just as I’ve learned about White people, Asian people, and every other race because WE ARE ALL EQUAL!”
As Black we must realize that the world has changed and still is (everyday in fact). We are no longer the inferior race. We are strong; just as any other person of ANY other race! Lose the mindset that if we don’t have our own month that we will completely disappear. Society cannot keeps us out of the history books, and racism will not control us any longer.
My take on the White history month comment. Throughout the history books, American history & World history all you read about is the accomplishments and the failures of the white man. Only until they speak about the western world and the western civilization is when they briefly speak about the history of the black man. Sometimes I wonder do people really listen to what they talk about. Not being racial, but a white man would never understand the in full terms the struggles and the adversity African Americans or Black people in general has gone through in those times. They only look from the outside and think these things as a tit for tat. That sense of self entitlement is what I speak of. It is only ignorance that fuels such questions and hence the reason why Black History should be observed and celebrated. Is Black History in place to make the white man feel sorry for what was down to the black man for years? Absolutely not! It is there to teach young children such as yours and mine, about the paths their predecessors took in order for them to have the privileges that they have to this very day. If t wasn’t for a Dr. Martin Luther king Jr., there would still be inequality, if it wasn’t for Carter G. Woodson, no one would recognize the black man for his contributions in building the country of America. If it wasn’t Jackie Robinson, to this day there would be no black men playing the sport of baseball. Likewise for all the other sports that are popular in our community. So if you, or for that matter, anyone may feel the need to start your white history, by all means go ahead! Make that recommendation to your Prime Minister or head of state and perhaps they may pass that notion. But understand this, do ensure that the motives are a positive motive. Personally, i really don’t see what else you can celebrate that isn’t already celebrated in the history books. By no means, do I mean to be offensive on this forum. I am simply stated my opinion due to a remark that was posted on here by someone else.
We should still celebrate so that future adults can know about the people who made a big change to the world.
im 14 and im proud to be blaack
I agree with most, if not all, of what you’re saying. I’m a firm believer in the fact that either each ethnic group should have a month of celebration that is EQUALLY celebrated, or all heritage months should be abolished altogether. I don’t really feel that these months are necessary, but most people can’t understand why.
I agree with the positive comments made but i strongly believe that if the schools can incorporated black history into the curriculum there will be a more understanding. We have all been to the Albert and Victoria Museum, History Museum but how many of us know of the black history museum. Black history needs to be publicized and shown more respect.
It should be integrated as part of history, not segregated as it is now. Explaining to my five year old is getting very difficult
Coming from Africa to study at the LSE, I never had a problem with white supremacy and the eurocentric history of civilization. according to what I was taught in school, I believed that the white people were the smartest, the most civilized and the most advanced groups of mankind on earth. Our history textbooks didn’t teach us much about our achievements as Africans…and it didn’t bother me at all. Why? Because all my life, I mostly spent working and living with my fellow African friends and families and I didn’t loose a single bit of sleep caring about who discovered what and who didn’t.
Now I am in the UK, in the midst of these people my curricula, the movies and the history books taught me to consider as a ”success” in the present civilization. I realize that apart from the skin colour and cultural differences we are almost the same. I find no reason to exalt a fellow human being and then I find another reason to question, why so much effort is spent in teaching and planting the idea of white supremacy in the minds of other people elsewhere, in subtle or less subtle ways.
Eurocentrism puts the black people and their history at the lowest level of the social hierarchy. Black history month is dedicated to defy this irrational assumption before delving back to where we have been placed…haha..