Black and Pretty Freakin’ Awesome All Year ’Round


Published February 4, 2010

I’m one of those people that hate February. Don’t worry, though, this is not a rant on how much Valentine’s Day sucks. (For the record, I’m in favor of any holiday that produces candy hearts and cheesy chick flicks.) The real reason I hate February is Black History Month.

Now, before you write off my argument as racist, you should know that I hate Hispanic Heritage Month just as intensely. It’s not that I dislike minorities. I am half black and half Dominican myself, and I am extremely proud of my roots. I just don’t need validation in the form of a month in my race’s honor. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the celebration of the different cultures that make up this country, but I really don’t need another pencil with “Black History Month” written on it.

Ironically, in my predominantly Caucasian, private elementary school, Black History Month was treated with hype that rivaled only Spice Girls concerts. There were countless projects, discussions and book reports, all revolving around an attempt to explore black culture. I hated it all.

As the only black person most of my classmates had ever interacted with, I was expected to jump headfirst into all the activities. I could hardly be considered a cultural expert at nine years old, so when my overeager classmates would ask me questions about “my people’s history,” it wasn’t exactly something that made me want to take a break from my “TRL” voting to discuss.

Even though at that age, my point of reference for people of color consisted mainly of Mel B., Brandy and Monica, I was pretty sure that black culture had contributed more to this country than just peanut butter. And yet, it seemed that the only types of things covered during Black History Month at school were “Did You Know?” tidbits just as trite as George Washington Carver’s gooey snacktime invention.

Despite my annoyance as a child with the treatment of heritage months, I think it’s understandable to put things into relatable terms for elementary school children. At nine, maybe the most you can handle is learning that Marjorie Joyner invented the hair relaxer and you’re not yet ready to have a loaded discussion on what it means to have “good hair,” a conversation that stretches as far back as pre-Civil War America. But, honestly, outside of elementary school, are these random facts the best that we can do when attempting to honor an entire race? I mean, thank you, VH1, for telling me that Garrett Augustus Morgan invented the traffic light, but I’d really like to get back to my “Ray J” episode, please.

To be honest, I don’t think that we live in a post-racial world. Case in point: just this week, I got into an argument with someone for dropping the n-word in public. I love my cultural background, but I don’t need a month filled with cheesy gestures to remind me that my race has a lot to offer, especially when people are exhibiting such ignorance during the other 11 months of the year. So yes, I’m black, I’m proud and I’m pretty freakin’ awesome all year round.