Terrific volunteer Tracy S. kindly agreed to be a guest blogger for us. She shares her thoughts about Black History Month.
I love that the pink mom of pink kids has worked to craft a thoughtful response to this topic. I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about Black History Month and how it should be commemorated both as a teacher and as a parent, and in both cases, I knew it was my duty and my privilege to share this history with my brown children and my (mostly) brown students. I’d like to think that I’d feel the same drive in any situation, but who knows how much time I’d put into this topic if my former students or my lovely children looked just like me.
Thanks Tracy, for sharing your thoughts.
It’s Not Just Black History – It’s American History
I have never felt completely comfortable with Black History Month because I
think it is a little odd to devote only one (short) month to exploring the
history and contributions of one group of people who are an integral part of
our American culture. Does that mean, then, that we can ignore them the
other eleven months and focus all on white people? I like a more integrated,
year-round approach. Despite the useful purpose and the good intentions
behind Black History Month, by naming it as we do, we seem to highlight our
separateness. There is no way to study black history without talking about
the role of white people, of course – it is our common history and our
shared experience, albeit from different perspectives. I am not even
comfortable with the words Black and White. Neither of us is that extreme on
the color scale. We all sit between black and white representing every shade
of that spectrum. I read a biography on Samuel L. Jackson and he disliked
the term African American. He is American. Why does that group need a
qualifier before American when others do not refer to themselves as European
American? They are no less American.
Of course I recognize an occasional need for identifying ourselves with or
from others, but I am aware of how much that needlessly alienates us from
others and also how transitory the importance of those identifiers are. If I
look at the data one way, I see myself as a Buddhist. If I cut it another
way, I am a woman. I am a liberal, midwestern, caucasian, heterosexual,
homeschooler, literate, middle class, married, omnivore with dilemmas. I
share something in common with millions of other people around the world in
each category, yet separate myself from others with each category. We are
Our house is TV free, though we do play a lot of movies. Even with less
media, even in a diverse city like Denver, they can clearly see that there
are part of a majority with regard to skin color. I make it a point, on a
regular basis to choose books and media that show more balanced perspectives
and people of color – not just in February.