Commentary: Don't Ask 'Where's Our White History Month?'
Updated: Feb 8
By Morgan Lietz--Eagle Staff Writer
Where’s the White History Month? Why is Black History Month such a big deal? There are surely other things more important that deserve their own month, right?
Black History Month has been controversial since its birth in 1970. It was first proposed by students at Kent Wood University in 1969. It was decided to be observed in February since both civil rights activists Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas were born then.
Since the dawn of our country, the Black community has been neglected and undermined. The public school system is notorious for overlooking minority accomplishments in the history they teach.
We're not only learning about old white men because only white men accomplished things. You learn about mostly old white men because they are the ones that wrote history.
Even the Black history taught in public schools is white-washed and catered to a white viewer. The first person to ever refuse to give up their seat was a 15 year old by the name of Claudette Colvin. Why don't we know about her? She was darker than Rosa Parks and became pregnant at a young age.
Much like Colvin, many pioneers and civil rights activists were hidden by the civil rights movement in fear of not catering to white people.
Most people know Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Nicola Tesla, and countless other white inventors. But many students in America can’t name even one African American inventor.
This isn’t due to a lack of inventors, but rather a lack of proper education. Garrett Morgan created the traffic light, Lewis Latimer invented the incandescent light bulb, Patricia Bath was the inventor of laser cataract surgery, and there are so many more. These are all created by Black people.
Black history is American History. White History Month is every month. It is a part of American culture and has been shoved down minorities’ throats since the dawn of the country.
The majority of white America doesn’t celebrate Juneteenth or even know what it is. But Christopher Columbus has a national holiday, and he was a man who raped and murdered women and never set foot on what today is American soil.
African Americans have been forced to adapt and adopt a white culture in so many ways. Growing up, many black children, even to this day, learn that being black is inherently bad.
Activist and successful business owner, Bridgette Craighead talked about her experiences as a child in school. All she had ever learned about black people in history was that they were slaves. She was never taught about Sojourner Truth, Madame CJ Walker, Booker T. Washington, or Ida. B Wells. Because that was not relevant to the history she was being taught.
"The first thing I learned about Black people were that were slaves." "Imagine being a young Black girl in class and the first thing you learn about black people is that your people were slaves." "We're more than what we've been taught," explained Craighead
It is crucial that the African American youth population has adequate role models growing up. The white population makes up roughly 60.7% of the total U.S. population, while the African American population constitutes roughly 13.4% of the United States population.
Many black children grow up not believing that they are worthy of so many things because of the lack of education and awareness of black excellence. Local activist, Malala Penn, spoke about her experience as a young child and the abuse she endured due to her background.
At the age of three, she was adopted from an orphanage in Madagascar, Africa, by a white family. She had to stay in Madagascar for two years while she learned English. During this time she was both physically and mentally abused by her adopted family.
"Going through the things that I went through made me stronger as a person." explained Penn " "...(and taught me) how important it is as a black woman to be fearless in everything that I do."
She knew that she deserved better than that, but not all children are that perceptive. She was later put into the foster care system and eventually found her forever home with an incredible black family. She was five years old when she finally left Madagascar. Her adopted mother, Ruby Penn taught are about black culture and incorporated black history into their everyday lives. Ruby loved her unconditionally and taught her how to celebrate her blackness.
Not every child growing up has a mother figure like Ruby. So many black children grow up never learning about the good that can come from being black and only hear negative things.
For many African Americans, Black History Month is a way to celebrate people's heritage and teach others about black excellence. But how can we celebrate black history month?
There are so many ways to participate in Black History Month. Black History month is so much more than just learning about people in history. Educating yourself on African American history and learning about successful Blacks in today’s society is important. It is also important to help share black voices. Sharing information on social media and helping raise awareness to others is a great way to celebrate African American History Month.
Another phenomenal way to show support is to buy from Black-owned businesses like Eleven11 Beauty Lounge, Gracefully Natural, Barn Country Restaurant, Ty's Detailing, The Barber Shop, and Growing Elegance and openly support them. Volunteering or donating to the BLM movement is another wonderful way to honor Black History Month.
Educating yourself on the black community and having a Black History Month is crucial to be able to move forward in society and to truly be able to have a true appreciation for the community and all their incredible contributions to society.