Black History Month: A Tempered Hurrah Pt 1

By Patrick Hall

It appears benign. Mostly? Each February, we celebrate Black History Month, and appropriately, we take a moment to recognize the many achievements and individuals who have contributed to the culture of the United States. From luminaries like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Booker T Washington, to Martin Luther King Jr, who did so much in their lifetime to see that America lived up to its promise of liberty and justice for all its people. As Americans, we can also applaud the work of scientists like George Washington Carver and Doctor Ben Carson. The latter completed a 22-hour pioneering operation that separated 7-month West German twins, joined at the back and head. In short, Black History Month has given a platform to the many nameless Americans of African1 descent who have made their mark.  

Yet today, in 2022, one also experiences a twinge of ambivalence. A feeling that something has gone asunder from the original purpose of Black History Month. It is an emerging reality, knowingly or unconscious, that Black History and other months dedicated to extolling and recognizing the accomplishment of women, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, and others have been manipulated at times to appeal to our worst angels. Envy, revenge, bigotry, and latent animosities have come to the surface.  Instead of uniting the society we call America, these ethnic and cultural celebrations seem to promote and embellish soft tribalism.  We have strayed from a nation whose cultural faith statement was “E pluburis, unum.” Disturbingly, it is slowly trekking in the opposite direction. In both the Black community and the broader cultural left, there are growing constituencies that wish to emphasize the faults in our national story. We have people in organizations like NAACP, BLM, Antifa, CRT heretics, and far too many individuals in Congressional Black Caucus. They find it almost a rite-of-passage to judge America by its worst moments.  Too often, they frame the “socio-political historic faith statement” that is America with a narrative riddled with racism and inequality.

Once again, heritage month celebrations, like Black History Month, were initially conceived to provide a space to teach and learn about cultural history.  However, a cursory review of how Black History Month is presented on college campuses, K-12 education, museums, and corporate media often communicates a more stealth-ridden message. A message that deliberately emphasizes how blacks and other designated groups are continually oppressed and marginalized in current-day America.  

Black History Month is marketed as a vehicle to recognize Black America's achievement. However, organizations like BLM, NAACP, and far too many academicians have over the past four decades used it as an entering wedge to denigrate the country, Western culture, and white Americans in particular.  

Their goals are more segregationist and accusatory rather than redemptive. It is more tribal than integrational. Ideas like cultural assimilation or patriotism are viewed in the pejorative. To reiterate, heritage months like Black History are sold on the surface to fortify the national culture. In actuality, it is neo-segregation, wearing a “happy-face.” It is peculiar cultural atheism that doesn’t believe in the greatness of America. But mostly, it is a poison, which will inevitably fracture the nation by design.  However, it is increasingly couched or sold to us under the banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

The Happy Face of Balkanization

Black History is, unfortunately, an accepted misnomer.  As the late black economist Walter Williams once opined. Black History is American History. As an unapologetic integrationist, seeing Black History as part and particle of American History serves as my North Star.2
 
The cultural left and the Democratic Party want to divide the country into tribes. It is a pathogen or unspoken subtext slowly infected most Heritage month celebrations, including Black History Month.  

We’re all aware of the activities of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Unfortunately, their most outstanding achievement appears to be their ability to extract millions of dollars from individuals and corporate America. Their efforts have been pernicious. They have successfully blamed the plight of the black underclass on malicious law enforcement, systemic racism, and other monotonous tropes. At the same time, they have garnered over 1.63 billion dollars from unsuspecting Americans while doing very little to address the multitude of problems that face many black Americans that have little or nothing to do with race. Black Lives Matter and many Black political classes have mastered a unique skill in their ongoing race-center rhetoric. They have spent their time studiously attempting to say and do nothing useful as successfully as possible.

 BLM has been the main presenters at dozens of Black History Month venues as I pen this article. Sadly, they continue to add to law enforcement’s propaganda carrying out a genocide on Black America. This is despite the rarity of the police killing of Blacks. However, BLM is deliberately catatonic because, since its inception in 2014, over 21,000 blacks have been murdered by other blacks. In addition, according to the most recent federal crime stats, Blacks now commit 56% of all homicides. This is a 3% increase since the last data points were released. True to form, you hear nothing but a loud silence from BLM in this regard. But this sad truth has no political cache in the victim-wizardry of the BLM Global Foundation. Twelve months out of the year, including Black History Month, BLM’s total energy focuses on keeping racism alive.

Unfortunately, like Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, many black politicians have no shame in employing Black History Month to continue sowing division.  Last week, during a Black History Month Reading event, she used it as a forum to smear, “of course with a happy face,” the growing number of Americans who now question many of the Covid mandates.  

I recently attended a Webinar sponsored by my Alma mater. The new cultural diversity coordinator outlined his objectives to confront the ongoing racism and marginalization of Blacks and other students of color. According to the new diversity coordinator, racism is supposedly endemic on college campuses throughout the United States. Even during Black History Month, professional black people (not to be confused with Black Professionals) continue to fight an almost Quixotic battle against white racism that still remarkably exists at $31,000 a year, primarily upper-class, guilt-ridden, ultra-liberal atmosphere, that is my Alma mater. Surreptitiously, Black History Month is being positioned as the point-of-the-spear in confronting the erroneously accepted dogma that institutional racism and inequalities still smolder in this awful place called America.

___________
1. Patrick Hall,  “Not African-American, Just American,”  Headway Magazine   9(11) (November 1997): 37-38.
 2. Patrick Hall, “Footnote from an Integrationist,” America 176 (May 10, 1997): 16-17.

[Patrick is a retired University Library Director. He is graduate of Canisius College and the University of Washington where he earned Masters Degrees in Religious Studies Education, Urban Anthropology and Library and Information Science.  Mr. Hall has also completed additional course work at the University of Buffalo, Seattle University and St. John Fishers College of Rochester New York. He has published in several national publications such as Commonweal, America, Conservative Review, Headway, National Catholic Reporter, and American Libraries. He has published in the peer reviewed publications, Journal of Academic Librarianship and the Internet Reference Services Quarterly. From 1997 until his retirement in January 2014 he served on the Advisory Board of Urban Library Journal, a CUNY Publication.]


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