Black History Month is here to stay


Abby Kempf

infographic by Erin Barchet
Fox News loves a controversy, and that is exactly what the company got with regular contributor and politically charged commentator, actress Stacey Dash.
Dash told a “Fox & Friends” reporter that Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s boycott of the Oscars was “ridiculous,” saying that black directors and actors were not ignored in the nominee selection process, even though none of the major categories had black nominees despite the presence of movies such as Concussion, starring Will Smith, and Chi-Raq, directed masterfully by Spike Lee — not to mention the wonderful black actors and actresses in his film.
But she didn’t stop there. Dash went on to say that Black Entertainment Television (BET) should be eradicated, along with the Image awards given by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to recognize outstanding people of color in film, television, music and literature. In addition, Dash called for an end to Black History Month, calling it a form of “segregation.”
Clearly, Dash does not understand the definition of segregation (the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community or establishment.) Creating a television network that portrays black people as complex heroes and heroines of their own stories instead of simply the ‘token black friend,’ is not segregation. Allowing a television program to feature more than one black actor on one show, without their race playing a large part of the plot, is not segregation.
Honoring a group of people who have overcome stereotypes, racism and financial hardships to grow into leadership roles and create cutting-edge products is not segregation. Celebrating the history of a minority that has been left out of the text books for so many years is not segregation.
It took hundreds of years for white Americans to finally enact integration after countless pleas from the black community and to accept people of all colors. It may seem that slavery is far removed, but RBHS students have parents and grandparents who were alive during the civil rights movement. The wounds of torture, imprisonment and dehumanization don’t close overnight.
During this continued period of healing, events such as Black History Month seek to remind humanity of where we have been and project an idea of where we still need to go.
BET educates society of the shortcomings of most regular television programs by shining a light on the capabilities of black actors and actresses who might otherwise be neglected because there was already one black person in the cast.
The NAACP Image awards seek to recognize and encourage black excellence in the face of confusing and degrading messages that are so often circulated about the black community.
These concepts are visible at RBHS, with the Multicultural Achievement Committee (MAC Scholars) working to ensure that minority students reach their potential, in spite of stereotypes and other limiting factors. This program is not segregating students from the rest of the population, but rather encouraging black students to realize that they are capable and worthy of everything a white student is.
Segregation is finished, no thanks to people like Dash, but that doesn’t mean the equality gap has been closed. The economic implications of hundreds of years of slavery do not disappear quickly. It will be years before slavery truly is a thing of the past. In the meantime, society must not forget the importance of celebrating diversity, lest racial division rise from its terrible grave.
If someone says that Black History Month isn’t needed, remind them that their grandparents still remember a time when Black History Month would not have even been permitted, much less celebrated.