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’tÂ necessarilyÂ AmericanÂ 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-intentionedÂ 37 year old Irish-Catholic woman who thought it wasÂ appropriateÂ to rock dashikis to school each Feburary —Â 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 matteredÂ¹. (There’s a reason you’re never going to see a coffee table book titled “A Look At The World’s Most FamousÂ
TaurusesÂ 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-outÂ 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 schoolÂ²), 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 TruthÂ 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 “HonoraryÂ Negros” to the Black History books
Look, I don’t want toÂ minimizeÂ 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’tÂ black but have a strong connection to the black community? How cool would it be to have days devoted toÂ 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 inÂ legitimatelyÂ sh*tty situations can make us feel like we aint sh*t right now (Which may be true — there’s a likelihood that weÂ collectivelyÂ aint sh*t — but that’s a different topic for a different day).Â
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 specialÂ privilegesÂ 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?
Â¹I know Malcolm X was born in May, but why let facts get in the way of a perfectly good point? Â²This could actually be true, but I’m totallyÂ makingÂ this up right now.
—Damon Young aka “The Champ”