Promoting Black Power Month in a White Power America

For Black America to continue celebrating Black History Month is, basically Blacks content with the struggle to come up through a status-quo tunnel. This must change.

Therefore, I have declared: January, “Black Power Month.” Not ignorant of the fact, Black Power Month in a White America seems, “Separate but equal”-ish.

For quite some time, I have believed White people in power knew what they were doing when in 1976, Congress decreed to establish February as Black History Month. Appeasing Black leaders who pushed for this recognition at the time, they knew it was no big deal.

The proof? Look at how even some successful Blacks are treated today.

January, as Black Power Month would be a break from an outdated tradition. The status-quo of every February looking at our history as if for nothing else, checking to see that its still back there is no way to move forward.

I’m all for learning of the inspiring stories of Blacks in history. But just as in my school days, too often the stories were told through the mouths and choosing of White teachers or Blacks hanging onto the past.

We must concentrate on looking towards our future. Using our power to love ourselves, respect ourselves, and educate ourselves as a guide for Black Americans to follow throughout the year, should be our goal.

Carter G. Woodson rightly highlighted the accomplishments of Blacks when he came up with the idea of celebrating what he called, “Negro History Week.”

He also rightly believed celebrating Black history should be temporary. But 90-plus years later, in no way suggests temporary.

I have great reverence, appreciation and respect to the many Blacks who have paved a better future for Blacks. And I am determined to make them as proud of me as I am of them. But without an ounce of shame, I am still more concerned with Black future, than Black history.

Concentrating on our future by loving ourselves, respecting ourselves, and educating ourselves is the best way to help all of America move forward. And that is in spite of the political forces that continue to hinder many Blacks from achieving their dreams.

Maya Angelou said it differently: “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.”

Woodson knew there would be a day when it was no longer needed to highlight the great deeds of Blacks in American history or in need of a special extended period of recognition. That day is today. And he currently did not expect Black America to be still waiting more than 90 years to be respected.

I saw a cute eight-year-old White boy play the piano like Beethoven. I was right to be amazed and praise this young boy’s ability. But seeing what Woodson started in 1926, which led to our present-day Black History Month some 90-plus years later, makes Blacks appear to be cute little boys and girls with talent beyond their years.

With no disrespect to all cute little 8-year-old White boys, celebrating Black History Month, 90-plus years after Woodson first came up with “Negro History Week,” is like patting a cute 8-year-old White boy on the head because he can play the piano like Ludwig van Beethoven.

For White America to pat Black Americans on the head every February in honor of their great accomplishments throughout the history of America, is no form of respect or appreciation. And for Black America to continue celebrating this condescending status-quo recognition explains why we continue to struggle with being respected as equal in America.

If Blacks are going to ever be respected in America we must first reject status-quo recognition. Then we must practice and teach self-respect. Then and only then, we will not see this country as White America, but our America too.

1983 to 1993 Bible Study teacher at SF juvenile hall. Currently prison reform activist and author of Case Game - Activating the Activist; an autobiography.

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