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Three Ways To Make Black History Month Better

Black History Month: Home to the weirdest and worst collages ever made

Whether it’s feeling a certain way about the fact that it’s the shortest month of the year, becoming annoyed with the underlying message that Black American history isn’t necessarily American and needs to be segregated, or being forced to remember the time in middle school when, since you were the only black kid in your class, your teacher — a well-intentioned 37 year old Irish-Catholic woman who thought it was appropriate to rock dashikis to school each Feburary — asked you to read a few pages from Jet Magazine aloud in front of the class each day for a month, there are few subjects that inspire the type of collective angst among a population that Black History Month does for Black Americans.

It’s the proverbial perpetually drunk uncle at Thanksgiving: You know he’s coming and you can’t not invite him, so you just hope and pray that he doesn’t get wasted and face-plant into the greens during grace like he did last year.

But, like the drunk uncle, we do actually love and appreciate Black History Month, and we’d miss it if it didn’t show up. Our angst comes from us just wanting it to do…better.

Here’s three possible ways we can make that happen.

1. Move it to May

Boom. In one fell swoop, one of the most common complaints about Black History Month — it’s the shortest month of the year — is rectified.

Why May? Well, two reasons:

A) Aside from the NBA playoffs and Memorial Day (which, for all intents and purposes, is a June holiday anyway), nothing that actually matters happens in May. I’d even go as far as to say that no one born in May has ever mattered¹. (There’s a reason you’re never going to see a coffee table book titled “A Look At The World’s Most Famous Tauruses Taureans“) Since this is true, why not just hijack the entire month? No one is going to feel bad about it. And, even if they do, they were born in May so their opinion doesn’t f*cking matter anyway.

B) Pushing it to the end of the school year will act as a drop-out deterrent for the tens of thousands of black kids who drop out of school every year. Many of these drop outs occur during the end of the school year (Why? The warm weather and the fact that, by that point, knowing they’re going to have to repeat the year makes it easier to chuck the deuces to school²), and putting Black History Month in May will allow black teachers to give em the ultimate guilt trips. You just can’t learn about Marcus Garvey and Sojourner Truth on Tuesday and decide to drop out of school Wednesday.

“So, Harriet Tubman ran barefoot and hungry through five states to escape slavery and your black ass can’t even walk three blocks to school???”

2. Add “Honorary Negros” to the Black History books

Look, I don’t want to minimize the contributions of any African-American who made their mark on history, but there are some things and people celebrated during Black History Month that have a way of making you think “Umm. I know he’s black and all, but does the guy who invented red Kool-Aid really need his own postage stamp?”

So, instead of grasping for historical straws, why not just add a few people who technically aren’t black but have a strong connection to the black community? How cool would it be to have days devoted to white men who date nothing but black women (i.e.: Roger Ebert, Robert De Niro, “Hesh” from The Sopranos, etc), people who invented things that black people love…even though they weren’t actually invented with that purpose in mind (i.e.: James Naismith, whoever invented the button that allows you to lean the driver’s seat back, the angel who convinced God to invent the ass, etc), and Shelia E.?

3. Pressure Congress To Enact “National Piece of The Pie Day”

While it’s great to recognize and honor those who’ve set the foundation for us, part of the Black History month angst has to do with the fact that, while things aren’t all peachy for us now, they’re much,much better then they were in the past. And, hearing about all the great things some of our ancestors did in legitimately sh*tty situations can make us feel like we aint sh*t right now (Which may be true — there’s a likelihood that we collectively aint sh*t — but that’s a different topic for a different day). 

So, to combat this feeling, why not have a day during Black History Month where the national script is flipped and it’s legally mandated that we have to be allowed to do certain things (i.e.: get bank loans, hail cabs, get great service at restaurants, point fingers in police officer’s and president’s faces, etc) that seem to be reserved for non-blacks?

And, as a way to appease the millions of non-blacks who definitely will have an issue with “Piece of The Pie” day, your special privileges will get revoked if you get caught doing certain “black” things the week before. Not going into detail on what exactly I mean by “black” things, but let’s just say that you may want to pick another time of the year to take a 75 minute lunch break or give a waitress a $2 tip on a $37 bill.

Anyway, that’s it for me today, but I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. People of VSB, can you think of any other additions/changes to Black History Month that would make it better?

¹I know Malcolm X was born in May, but why let facts get in the way of a perfectly good point?
²This could actually be true, but I’m totally making this up right now.

—Damon Young aka “The Champ”

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I get to play tonight because I working from home. Good post Champ.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      thanks and sh*t

  • Cheech

    How about make all black actors, actresses, and other “role models” sign a do not F*** up clause and be in public service announcements that better the community ? Aka No jail time, terrible movies or screwing up important games for their franchises and be a model citizen

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      if they did that, what the hell would we have left to blog about?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/froman33 darth frosty

    F&*k Black history and F&^ K The giants! damn patriots playing soft ass vanila defense screwed up everything.

    • Cheech

      Let’s be real….that’s the best the Pats secondary has played all year so the Giants earned that win and the Pats offense looked bad without that giant tight end so of course they lost

    • Iceprincess

      U want some cheese wit dat whine? Bwaahahaaa go giants!!

      • http://iamyourpeople.com/ I Am Your People

        Giants! Tom Brady should’ve played in Uggs

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      the giants and the patriots played yesterday?

      • Iceprincess

        Hardy har har. Dont hate cuz your wack&yellow werent there :-)

  • SpottieOttieDarlin

    Detroit Red…. May 19.
    Biggie and Spottie…. May 21. #ijs

    my job is celebrating black history month with a day of soul food in the cafeteria, a speaker, in african dance class…… and lastly, by showing “the help”……

    I think the problem we have with black history month, is that as much as we like to be acknowledged, we hate to feel showcased.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      I think the problem we have with black history month, is that as much as we like to be acknowledged, we hate to feel showcased

      basically, you feel like Black History Month is pandering?

      • http://www.twitter.com/randomnimrod RandomNimrod

        pandering…thats why I haven’t seen The Help or Blind Side and why i ignored the pleas and didn’t do see Red Tails.

        • sincereluv4life

          am I the only black person that was angered by “The Help”? I wanted my $$ back after that movie.

        • SpottieOttieDarlin

          I actually liked “The Help” and “the Blindside” (“Red Tails” was ok), but I can see why people find both to be problematic. We hate that great white hope comes to save the day image, but we need to get over ourselves. We didn’t make all the strides we’ve made on our own.

          And if you think about it…what better voice to persuade the masses than a person that looks exactly like the masses. IE… A man, more so than a woman, is often more effective at schooling men about domestic violence…. but, that’s another tangent.

          I wouldn’t want to watch “The Help” in a setting like work, because I remember feeling very emotional after seeing that film, and that was around family. I wouldn’t want to feel those emotions and then have to go back to my desk among the 2520s. might be feeling some kinda way…

      • SpottieOttieDarlin

        pandering…. well, I don’t know that I’d use that strong a word, especially with such a negative connotation, but you could look at it that way. Black history is American history and if you recognize the achievements and contributions of Afro-Americans all year, February shouldn’t be any different for you. It’s kind of like your man getting you roses on Valentine’s day… thanks…I appreciate it, but how about showing that same affection just because it’s Wednesday!?!!

    • http://www.twitter.com/randomnimrod RandomNimrod

      serving soul food would undermine what the black first lady is doing by re-fattening up already pudgy kids. Paula Deen has shown everyone how dangerous that food is.

      Am I the only person out there that refuses to see movies like The Help? I still haven’t seen Blind Side either. I never will if I can help it.

      I also have refused to watch Avatar all the way thru. That has nothing to do with the previosu statement I just refuse to see it to be contrarian

      • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

        I haven’t seen The Help but not out of protest. I saw the Blind Side; it was pretty good. Why are you refusing to see them? I heard people not liking The Help but I haven’t heard a reason why.

        • http://www.twitter.com/randomnimrod RandomNimrod

          I never liked those kinds of movies. I never enjoyed them I always felt they aren’t really for us they are for people to need something to pacify their white guilt.

        • http://www.twitter.com/bmorebmw Tentpole

          I like to hear some reasons on that too. The Help told an excellent story. It was done very well.

        • sincereluv4life

          I felt the help was poorly done, the plot was all over the place and the movie was unnecessarily long. It is a “white saviour” type of flick which can be a major turn off. It also doesn’t help to know that the lady who wrote the book completely exploited and continues to exploit the maids who the story is about by not allowing them to tell it from their perspective. And I guess it also bothers me that it takes a movie like this for black actresses (Viola Davis) to be given the type of attention they really deserved a long time ago. so those are just a few reasons I can’t get with that movie.

  • Dilon

    Lets face it the way the education system is set up to where kids have to take standard text at the end of the yr if you moved it to May it will get less time in the classroom than it already does. As is the way they set up the schedule of what to go over slavery is talked about for 3 days n you usually don’t make it pass WW II. Like it was stated earlier its not included in “American History” too much and that is what they try to force you to learn. You might hear about MLK but you won’t hear about Garvey or Malcolm X…I really don’t like how it is separated from the rest of American History and looked at like the evil step child but when the History books in the schools are only written by certain ppl that’s what happens

    • http://www.womenaregamechangers.com Women Are Gamechangers

      I agree that it should be incorporated throughout the entire school year and not left until February. But when you really think about it, how many teachers teach history? Very few. That’s the sad truth.

      • Dilon

        This is true I am a college student right now who wants to teach high school history and I only remember my high school having two history teachers. It wasn’t until I came to college that I learned about people other than the “big 4″. The said part is you can tell it was very similar for the ppl in my classes. With the way the states set up the test you really are not allowed to go outside of what they want you to teach now, unless you are lucky enough to teach a class that doesn’t have a state test. It also depends on where you are I’ve seen white kids look at teachers and say “why do I need to know this?”

        • http://www.womenaregamechangers.com Women Are Gamechangers

          History in general does not want to be taught or learned about as to why no one seems to know or understand that history actually does repeat itself. If people knew their history they would know where they are supposed to go. I come from a family of teachers so it breaks our heart the way education is going. One of my cousins is a 7th grade Social Studies teacher and got a rude awakening when she learned that she was probably most of her students first teacher to teach history. I wish you the best of luck. Don’t give up. Some students actually do want to learn what you will teach. And as for the white students, it depends who they are. I know schools with a mostly white student population and they put on some very well put together Black History programs. And they didn’t contain “The Big 4″ That was surprising while some schools that have mostly a black student population didn’t even bother to do anything. Just sad. Sometimes we get in our own way of teaching the next generation.

      • Dilon

        That is true I only remember 2 History teachers in high school. While I was in hs you only heard about the “big 4″. I am in college right now and I want to be a high school history teacher, but the way they set up the test the only way you can teach what you want is to be allowed to teach one of the history classes with no standard test. I did not hear about anyone other than the “big 4″ until I came to college smh.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        history and social studies are still being taught in schools, but math and the hard sciences are getting most of the attention/funding/talented teachers now.

        • http://www.reggaegyals.com Noratorious

          You are absolutely right, but I must include something.
          I am a math professor in the SF/Bay Area, and one of the things I try to do as much a possible is to include some historical context with mathematics. I do this because most students don’t realize that every culture across the planet has contributed in some way to mathematics.
          The most ancient mathematical writings are from Egypt and the Middle East, for example. Those are the OG mathematicians!

          Including a little background about where trigonometry came from, for instance, would probably help students give enough of a shit to do their homework. Just a thought.

          As to your article, I have an idea, but it might sound crazy: National Educate White People Day.
          I know, it sounds ridiculous, but really I think if you spend a day getting to know a white person and sharing your life would help ignorant white folks realize that we’re all the goddamn same.
          Because apparently there are some of us out there who still don’t get it.

  • http://www.delaneydiamond.com Delaney Diamond

    Love the column, except the part about May babies. Being a Taurus, I’m actually kinda hurt right now. And if Malcolm X were alive, he would be too. Yes, he’s a famous Taurus!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      lol, if malcolm x would have been hurt by my little shot, then maybe we’ve been following the wrong revolutionary.

      • http://www.delaneydiamond.com Delaney Diamond

        Lol. Good point.

        • SpottieOttieDarlin

          May babies unite! And I love that avi, girl!

  • http://www.womenaregamechangers.com Women Are Gamechangers

    In 1926, Dr Carter G. Woodson initiated Negro History Week in order to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history. And February was the month he chose.
    As a former teacher, I went all out. I did not speak about “The Big 4- Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, Dr. King and W.E.B. Dubois.” I actually took the time to created a school wide curriculum for everyday so the students could learn in a fun way about the contributions of blacks in America. We followed the National Theme every year. I bet many people did not even know there is a National Black History Theme every year. I also put on the biggest performance every year for the Black History Program. That was my contribution for the next generation.
    Now I do not object to doing something other than what’s being done now. Black History Month does seem pointless when most people only do a Soul Food dinner or highlight one person. What’s the point of celebrating then?

    • http://GenevaGirl.net Geneva Girl

      I never knew that there was a theme. I just looked up this year’s: Black Women in American Culture and History. Thanks for making me do my homework. I bet you’re a great teacher.

      VSB is not only funny, but educational too.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        “I never knew that there was a theme.”

        me neither. VSB is truly for the children and sh*t

    • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

      Since it’s about women’s contribution to culture this Black History Month, it’s is safe to talk about Jada Fire’s retirement from the adult film industry? ;-)

      Seriously though, good look on the national theme.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        Since it’s about women’s contribution to culture this Black History Month, it’s is safe to talk about Jada Fire’s retirement from the adult film industry?

        seriously, we need to start including people who made contributions in, um, “non-traditional careers” to the history books too

    • http://www.becauseimwrite.com Muze

      completely just learned something new. never knew there was a national theme.

      i feel like my teachers failed me.

      but you sound like an awesome one. thanks

  • Angel Baby

    Champ – LOL Please tell me this was a joke and did not really happen:

    “asked you to read a few pages from Jet Magazine aloud in front of the class each day for a month”

    • Pe. Riche.

      That’s from the show “Everybody Hates Chris”. His teacher was cray.

      • Angel Baby

        Ha oh okay. Yes, his teacher was a mess!!! Thanks

        • http://magnetforfoolishness.wordpress.com Magnet for Foolishness

          I thought that sounded familiar…

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      Champ – LOL Please tell me this was a joke and did not really happen:

      it didn’t happen to me, but i’m sure it’s happened to someone out there…even if that someone is a fictional character

  • Angel Baby

    Champ – LOL Please tell me this is a joke and did not really happen:

    “asked you to read a few pages from Jet Magazine aloud in front of the class each day for a month”

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    It’s funny how when something belongs to us some of us always find way to belittle it. Like a couple of months ago someone here wrote a post belittling Kwanzaa.

    I guess everything that’s just for us sucks, right.

    • That Ugly Kid

      I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. Like the Kwanzaa post written last year, what I think he’s trying to say is that while the concept in itself is great, the execution of it is terrible. Black History Month is a good thing, but look at the way it’s handled. As others have mentioned, all people really talk about during this month is Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks etc. The “famous” black people. People don’t usually take this time to learn more stuff about the black culture. What he (The Champ) and others here on VSB are suggesting, is ways the BHM can be better.

      I do remember that back in elementary school, our school competed with other schools in a large competition about black history. Our school came in like second or third place but that wasn’t the point. To prepare for the competition we actually had to do research and it ended up being a fun way to learn about our history. I think if more things like this took place it might make people actually WANT to learn about black history.

      • Keisha

        +1

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “I guess everything that’s just for us sucks, right.”

      yup. sucks, doesn’t it?

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      Sidenote: I actually think Kwanzaa is for White parents of Black children adopted into White families. The passion in which White parents adoptive embrace Kwanzaa as part of their child’s history and culture is fascinating.