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That is the importance of Black History Month to me.Black history is still important and should be taught to all students, not just African-American students.Additionally, what understanding our history enables us to understand is the legacy of overcomers, plagued with all the viscous obstacles facing us today and more, that have come before us.
It can be seen when African Americans are told that the reason they don’t get nominated for Oscars is because they don’t have the talent while ignoring the fact that they are not given the opportunity to work and their movies are not watched by those voting for the awards.
It can be seen by the unequal treatment blacks and whites receive in the crimes they are charged with and the sentences they are given once charged.
One can see incidents on the news when unarmed African Americans are shot in the back and killed by police, while heavily-armed white Americans are permitted to take over federal land and buildings unmolested by state or federal police authorities.
It can be seen in high schools across the nation when white high school girls think it is cute or fun to arrange their shirts to say the “N word” and pose for photographs.
When students are educated not to respect or appreciate the fact that African Americans have always made good and valuable contributions to society in the United States, they are taught not to respect and appreciate the African Americans currently living in the United States.
The end result is insensitivity, distrust and a disdain for treating other people, particularly African Americans and other students of color as they should be treated.
Not in the sense that it was a narrative inherent to the past of my ancestors, but rather a history that I had inherited and come to appreciate through an adoption of seemingly shared circumstances.
What I mean by ‘shared circumstances’ is that here in the United States, whether you’re a first generation Nigerian-American, Ghanaian-American, Caribbean-American or any other race in the Afro-diaspora that is now living in the “land of the free,” to most, you’re simply considered “black.” Rarely is the distinction made between a kid whose parents moved here from Jamaica in the late 80s and a kid whose ancestors were brought here as slaves in the early 1700s.
So, while we may not all descend from the same family origins, we are by no means unrelated.
So, with this being the case, our vastly encompassing race of “black-Americans” would be completely remiss to not seize the opportunity to learn about the history of our brothers and sisters in this country.