We’re only halfway through Black History Month and already grumbles can be heard around campus: “Why do we have a whole month set aside for African-American history? Why don’t we have a white history month?”
It’s an argument that has come to be expected with February. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it should go unaddressed.
The simple answer is, of course, that practically every general history class taken by University of Kentucky students focuses on white, European history. And the same with every literature class, and every humanities class and so forth. Black History Month was initiated because of the dearth of African-American topics taught in regular classes. All that anyone ever learned about African Americans was that they were shipped over as slaves.
It’s true that American culture is becoming more aware of the lack of diversity in our scholastic endeavors. More and more professors are integrating African-American achievements and influences into material that used to be dominated by “white” history. This can only enrich the quality of education students receive.
But our country is not so far along that we can simply drop a special month of recognition for black history. Remember, only 40 years ago, UK had segregated dormitories and sports teams. The wonderful events highlighted throughout this month demonstrate that there’s still much more everyone can learn about African-American culture.
Instead of complaining about the month, people should make an effort to participate in it. Go to a lecture; hear a concert; watch a screening of a movie. Re-evaluate the history that has been taught with the new information gleaned from these experiences.
Black History Month isn’t just for African Americans. It’s everybody’s month.
University Wire — U. Kentucky