Being Black During Black History Month: Oh, White People!

Happy Black History Month To ALL (Who Care)!

Black History Month has always held a special place in my heart. Sure, I love MLK Day in January, MX Day (who?) in April, and Juneteenth (what?) in June, but nothing quite touches my deep roots in Afrika (yes, Afrika) more than the shortest month of the year my people were relegated to for celebrating our little known history. It’s a great present, seeing as though white people on my campus seem to think that I don’t KNOW it’s Black History Month. (Yes, I do! Do you know who Carter G. Woodson is? No? Right.)

As a student worker in the residence halls, I’ve decided that the best way to educate my residents is to force it upon them unwillingly. There’s a little study corner I noticed people like to sit, so I decided to make that my “Subliminal Learning Corner,” and every few weeks I decorate it with useful, encouraging, and entertaining information. In the past I’ve done “The Halloween Story” and “Who Like Work?” (information about studying and famous people,  whatever). So during February, i wanted to do a Black History Museum, and I decided to get bold and decorate the whole floor hallway. Can you see where this may go wrong?

I talked to the other RA (who is white) down the hall about my idea, and he was cool with it! He’s taking a Black Communications class and saw it as a good opportunity to excercise some of the things he was learning . Great. I talk to my (white) boss about it. Fine. I held a meeting before we even started decorating with ALL the residents (who are, with the exception of 4 people including me, white)! So it’s decorated, and everyone who was suppose to volunteer to help put it up, didn’t. And when my fellow RA and I are putting it up, this white resident with his door open asks what we are doing. I say, “we’re putting up the Black History Montage” and he replies, “no, we aren’t” with a air (or gust) of rudeness. I pointed at my fellow RA and myself and said, “no, WE are putting it up,” which is when he calmed down and realized I wasn’t asking for his help. Then he went back to his business.

Today, I find out a group in the hall that is supposed to be making moves in here was joking about the Montage and how it was unnecessary. I let all of the people involved know what I was doing, and asked them how they felt about it, and no one had anything to say! I seems to me that white people never can criticize anything a Black person does honestly, especially when it comes to issues dealing with race! I thought white people lived in a “post-racial” society, so why does it seem that so many whites still have difficulties communicating with Black people? Is it just me, the Black nationalist, who cannot be rationalized with?

I talked shortly with a unknown white person in the elevator while we rose to our floor. All I said was, “I shouldn’t have done it?” He immediately knew what I was talking about, and said, “Nooo..um.. You know you didn’t do it any other time…” And the doors opened, and we parted ways. And I repeat, is it just me? Granted, he was not my resident (which means I probably just heard the gospel of my white students) but this lounge corner has been visibly decorated since the beginning of the year, and has never had a “Black” or even “racial” tone to it. Halloween told the Irish folktale, and I learned something! Do I have to be diverse only when it is beneficial to others, or can I tell my story too?

I noticed this a long time ago, but alas, the only time white students give a damn about Black history is when they are getting a grade for knowing it. And the only time white people want to tell the truth to a Black person about an issue is when they are alone (as to not give away the big white secret/joke) and cornered (in an elevator, for example). And it’s a damn shame.

I been raised in a proletariat’s system, where I, as well as the rest of my Black sista and brothas, have been  the victim of indoctrination. I have been taught to believe that all my ancestors have done is meaningless to white people (hence, slavery is about the only thing about Black people in elementary, high school, and college history textbooks until you get to Martin Luther King [“guess nothing happened with them for 400-500 years”]).  It only enrages me to see that after white people have been given the resources to know that the BS they have been fed as well is false, they still don’t want to know any more truth about American history. They do not go out of their way to attend cultural events, thought I, as a Black student, am required to attend lectures where my white professor thinks its okay to say the N-word out of his mouth, twice, during a Black History lesson. They do not approve of my reminders of Black achievement hanging in the hall in February but I am forced into not learning or working on Columbus Day, President’s Day, The Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving (and more!) because they want to celebrate days that honor OPPRESSION and historical LIES (What is Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to a Native? What is The Fourth of July to a slave in 1776?).

Even more sickening is the future that is paved for these ignorant children. They will graduate to be painted as this thoughtful, changed,“refined citizens” that college graduates are developed into during their tenure. But no, it is a fallacy, as much of a fallacy that whites are supportive and willing participants in the stirring of pepper into the melting pot that has always been bland. Or too salty. If you get my drift.

Melting Pot stirred by Liberty

Don’t you see me? No? Neither do I.

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