This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

February 2, 2009

First, change it to January?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 12:29 pm

It will happen to you, if it has not already. And most likely around this time of year. Someone will say to you–perhaps it will be a friend or work associate, someone with whom you have shared previous conversations and maybe even a drink or two–this person will remark, “You know what I don’t understand? Why do we even have a Black History Month? How would it be if we had a White History Month?”

"Negro League Cap." PPR_Scribe

"Negro League Cap." PPR_Scribe

Just when corporate America has discovered Black History Month as a potential revenue-generating endeavor, some are calling for an end to the observance. In a “post-racial” time, who has need of 28 or 29 days set aside to celebrate and learn about Blacks’ contributions to the United States and to the world? Surely we should not keep this relic of yesteryear. And after all, shouldn’t we celebrate Black history every day of the year?

Except…

We do not celebrate Black History Month every day of the year. Most residents of the USA are probably woefully ignorant of Black history and culture–even residents who are, themselves, Black. Back up. Most residents of the USA are woefully ignorant of history of anybody.

Here is a hypothesis:

These calls for the abolishing of Black History Month (or Hispanic Heritage Month, or Women’s History Month, or Asian Pacific Heritage Month…) are not so much a call for ethnic unity and forward progress as they are an expression of weariness about talking about the past, period.

Some will say that this reticence about examining the past is a uniquely US affliction. We are all about the progress. We are a relatively new country, obsessed with novelty and enamored with youth. The past is just…distastefully unAmerican.

But as much as I disagree with this notion, I am willing to admit that the way that we have traditionally observed Black History Month? Perhaps it no longer serves us well. All this attention to “Black firsts,” the same iconic figures mentioned over and over again, the very feel-good/happy ending nature of the narratives… Maybe it is time for an overhaul.

The only question now is: What do we do instead? What would Black History Month look like in post-post-racial United States of America?

I’ll think on that and report back. Of course, I’ll have to hurry as there are only 26 more days of February left…

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