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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 lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't.

  • Sigma_Since 93

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.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://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?

  • 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”

  • 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.

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