No I'm not questioning the need for having a month where the history of black folks is celebrated here in North America (that would be another post), my issue is more like is Black history month as it stands actually serving the purpose for which it was created. Are we really receiving a better understanding, shining the spotlight or gaining knowledge on black issues, history etc during this month.
To me the answer is no. Black history month has gotten all ho hum. The thrill is indeed gone.....well at least up here in the T-dot.
And since I cant speak for the U.S experience my frame of reference has to be the one in which I'm situated ..... Canada namely the T-dot and I'd say Black history month needs to be revamped or something up in this here place because its sorely lacking these days.
Now I'm not sure how black history month is going/went in the U.S but I think maybe one of the issues with it here in Canada is that its an idea which just hasn't been transferred well. And one of the reasons for that is that while it may be true to some extent that all blacks are alike, or at least that's how we are perceived, we have a whole lot of differences that are just not taken into account in this whole black history month thing.
I mean lets face it Canada is not the U.S. There is more of a bonding, a common history to the majority of blacks in the U.S. Even with the many immigrants that country has had over the years one must realize that the US started with an already large black population due to slavery. Plus over there, folks just get assimilated, everyone stands for the red, white and blue.
Here in Canada its just not the same. First of all we started with a smaller 'indigenous' black community (by that I mean those who were brought here as slaves). Differences tend to stand out more. We can be black but we're also Ghanaian, or Scotian or Bajan or Trini or Somalian (and of course if any of us ever screw up we all immediately become Jamaican) most of us are either direct immigrants or first and second generation Canadians. We live here but are we really all about the Maple Leaf like those in the US are about the Stars and Stripes?
No. We (the blacks in Canada) generally have a stronger link to the history of our home countries, (and don't be fooled into thinking all of our home countries are alike because they may be an island in the Caribbean or on the African continent they are not) the history of the Norman Manleys, Errol Barrows, Eric Williamses (and I'm not talking about the disgruntled Raptors player), Jomo Kenyattas than we do to that of the Abrahams and Mary Ann Shadds.
What I'm saying is that in Canada it seems as if the differences seem to mean as much as the similarities to us black folks. We are all black but somehow that banner doesn't encompass us all as easily as it does in the US. Well until it comes to dealing with "the man" or "the system" and the like because then all differences aside we are all black.
Attempts are made during black history month to get into the history of black Canadians and to 'big up' the achievements of contemporary blacks but they don't seem to have any punch, just a bunch of fizzle. Take for instance the annual black history month poster. Great idea to showcase a few of our community's finest but does this really work. The poster just sits there, no real explanation. No one really highlights the contributions of those individuals, sometimes its difficult for me to even figure out who they are.
Anyway I still think Black history month is necessary in North America if done correctly to at least give some of the black youth a sense of worth. Its a bit different for persons like me who grew up with black leaders, lawyers, doctors, police and the like in the Caribbean. I already know that we can achieve anything, sky's the limit, never had issues with identity or self worth but this generation growing up in Canada well they do need some help.
Yes I believe every day should be a black history day but if we're celebrating an official month I think more effort has to be put into really putting together something to make the kids proud of what their ancestors achieved. Maybe we need to incorporate some of those black figures from the countries of our ancestors into the celebration and show what we are truly capable of achieving.
Maybe we just need to promote this black history month thing more. I really don't know.