Reasons to boycott

Published 3:40 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

In the fashion of those whose actions we’ve chosen to annually celebrate during this month, I’ve decided to boycott.

More than that, I call for the abolition of what we so proudly have baptized as Black History Month.

No, I have not forgotten from whence I’ve come, neither do I believe that our great nation has arrived at the point to live beyond the color of a man’s skin, which is indeed a pity to say the least. But what I do recognize is that what should have been created as a temporary fix to a large problem, because of our own laziness, has been coined as the solution.

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To celebrate Black History Month is to put a Jetsons Band-Aid on a bullet wound. It ignores the fact of the pain and the existence of the bullet which continues to run its course.

If somehow, miraculously, the wound stops bleeding, when the Band-Aid is removed one must admit that nothing of real value has been done to solve the true problem of the bullet—in our case, the injustice and even racism. Yes, I dare say the word from which so many of us choose to run, or, like children, cover our eyes as if not seeing the problem means that it’s disappeared. No, it’s still there. And it’s still here, and it will continue as long as we feed it.

I argue that Black History Month is feeding the monster of racism that we are all trying to make disappear. By having a month in which we celebrate black people’s contributions, we say that there is something different about them than other minorities living in America.

But worst of all, apart from the division or derision, we say that to be black is not to be American. I beg to differ; Black history is American history. And I accept that it’s a two-way street, thus I do not reject the idea of the so-called forefathers of our nation. Granted they look nothing like me, and we do not have lineages that immediately come from the same countries, we are related. At some point, we all must recognize that every slave master had some relationship, however perverse, with each of his slaves—distant or even protecting. And that makes their history relative—connected.

In fairy tales, we have the courtesy to speak about the giant in “Jack and the Bean Stalk,” but in reality we choose to ignore the blots on our own history if they do not serve us well. I simply ask that we not do that. For now, I believe us to be too proud of a people in America, no matter what the race or origin, to ignore our “own” individual heritages.

So my demand is not that we reject our so-called racial identities, but that we would be fair and just when recounting the facts of history. That we would not act as if black people appeared out of nowhere to bear the burden of this country to reach their peak during the Civil Rights movement.

Indeed, I pray that we’d talk about all of our history together as one. That we’d talk about the Japanese who were citizens of this country that we held as prisoners during World War II. That we’d talk about the many Native Americans that we’d slaughtered before forcing the rest halfway across the country. That we’d talk about our brothers who laminate crosses, not to burn them, but as a sign of their faith; those in the KKK are undoubtedly Christian no matter how conservative or extreme.

Let’s talk about our dark history because it has helped to shape this country just as much as our victories. Let us all fight, together this time, that our history books would be inclusive and will not reduce any group of people down to a paragraph or page as though we can relegate anyone’s history to a month.

I agree with Lupe Fiasco, “Racism is whack as hell,” but until we lift our hands in unity to strive against it, our temporary fixes will continue to be part of the problem.

Evette LangNancy, France