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Black History Month – or thanking the slaves for making America great?

February 9, 2018

by Bilal Mafundi Ali

 

For many people, especially Black people, the month of February, signifies the annual celebration of Black History Month – or African-American Heritage Month. February is designated as a time to recognize African American achievements and contributions to America.

One notable consequence is the hero worship of a handful of prominent figures. What’s more, this celebration of Black achievement particularly tends to be sanitized, and this selective representation often comes at the expense of erasing a rich legacy of individuals, groups and movements just as important in the legacy of Black struggle.

Every year since 1929, the month of February has been observed as Black History Month by scholars, students, churches and the corporate world. Many people feel that it is important that we honor those who faced almost insurmountable challenges and barriers to “overcome.”

Every year since 1929, the month of February has been observed as Black History Month by scholars, students, churches and the corporate world.

Many believe that Black History should be celebrated year-round, not just one month of the year – and the shortest month of the year at that – as it’s no different from American history. After all, Black History is amerikkklan his-story, in which, without Black people, there would no American history.

Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month, was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” Woodson was bothered by the fact that many textbooks and other historical reviews minimized or ignored the contributions of Black figures.

When Carter G. Woodson proposed Negro History Week, he explained, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” Woodson earmarked the second week in February to raise awareness of our stories. Woodson chose that week because it specifically covered the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12).

When Carter G. Woodson proposed Negro History Week, he explained, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

There is no shortage of ways to celebrate Black History Month. Teachers give lessons to students about important African American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and the Tuskegee Airmen. Bookstores highlight the works of Black poets and writers. Meanwhile, galleries display the work of Black artists. Museums feature exhibitions with African-American themes, and theaters present plays with African-American subject matter.

At the same time Black History Month is being celebrated with all its pageantry, it fails to acknowledge the historic ongoing struggles for Black people’s self-determination and liberation. Is this because Black History Month has been successfully co-opted by corporate America and the petty Black bourgeoisie?

KKKapitalism co-opts the post-holiday sales slump that usually follows New Year’s Day, when retailers honor holidays in hopes of boosting revenue while adjusting their products and services to commemorate Black History Month. Target, Verizon, Google, Netflix, along with alcoholic beverage companies, display Great African Kings such as Budweiser’s advertisement.

Ironically, many of these corporations have derived their great wealth from that “peculiar institution” known as slavery. This involvement by these corporations has had the effect of rendering Black History Month a token gesture.

At the same time Black History Month is being celebrated with all its pageantry, it fails to acknowledge the historic ongoing struggles for Black people’s self-determination and liberation. Is this because Black History Month has been successfully co-opted by corporate America and the petty Black bourgeoisie?

“We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society” is Point 5 of the platform of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Bilal Ali, facilitator of the Homeless Peoples’ Popular Assembly, holds a list of demands generated by unhoused people meeting together and speaking for themselves. It’s been reported that, currently, 70 percent of homeless people in San Francisco are Black. – Photo: Coalition on Homelessness

Black history is amerikkklan history – a history of kidnapping, a history of genocidal practices, a history of suffering, murder, brutality, marginalization, containment, control, and the exploitation and oppression of Black people in amerikkkca.

Black History Month has never been about Black folks understanding their oppressive conditions in this kkkountry. Black History Month has become the month of the “good negro,” totally erasing the history and contributions of Black freedom fighters such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Robert Williams, Ella Baker, Queen Mother Moore and others who waged militant opposition against the U.S. empire. Black History Month has become a white washing of the historical relationship between people of Afrikan descent and white supremacist America.

“Often Black history is not recorded, it’s forgotten about, this keeps us from knowing what direction to go in the future,” said Huey P. Newton.

“Black History” is white domination of Black people and white people being entitled to rape, murder, exploit and oppress Black people as a divine right.

“Black History” is the denial of Black people’s right to self-determination.

“Black History” is the criminalization of being Black.

“Black History” says Black lives have never mattered.

“Black History” is whites being able to escape into their whiteness, while making it impossible for Blacks to escape into their Blackness.

Black History Month is about the commercialization and commodification of OurStory.

REAL BLACK HISTORY MATTERS!

Bilal Mafundi Ali, legendary activist, advocate and human rights organizer, can be reached at mafundi421@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “Black History Month – or thanking the slaves for making America great?

  1. Mel K

    This tops the cake for being the worst article I have ever laid eyes on. Amerikkklan? Are you a serious writer or a child? Did you also really call yourself a "legendary activist" at the bottom of the article? You are the king of fools. Amerikkka.. my lord, anyone who reads this article is now dumber. That includes me.

    Reply
  2. PhD paper

    America people have great fun with this type of events because they know how to enjoy their life even life are so busy.Black History Month are continue and people celebrate it a lot.

    Reply

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