Black History Month has been a month that has been highly looked forward to by Blacks in America since its first celebration at Kent State University in 1970 between January 2 to February 28. This yearly celebration brings pride and a feeling of accomplishment for Blacks in America during Black History.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is when Black people are supposed to show and share race pride and awareness. During this month, blacks are supposed to look back at their history or heritage.
But does the Black History of Black men and women of the past show an ethnic race of people’s history of the struggle for civil rights, freedom, justice, and equality, or does it show the slow and humiliating hoops they have to jump through to be assimilated into white America?
A Black History Look into Writer Toni Morrison
Black History teachings should include Toni Morrison noted for examining Black experience within the community. In 1993, she wrote in a special issue of Time Magazine on immigration. Her thoughts were that the most efficient acceptance into American culture for immigrants was to express a negative opinion of the native-born Black population.
Black History should teach immigrants such as the Italians, Polish, and Jews were not initially accepted into white society when they first arrived in the United States. However, their children were more accepted because they assimilated by becoming white.
By doing so, they experienced upward mobility they did not experience being their ethnic selves. As a part of white assimilation, it also means that one must adopt the white racial attitude.
Black History should talk about Piri Thomas, a Black Puerto Rican author who describes this generational gap assimilation. Among Italians in the Bronx, where he grew up in the 1940s, neighborhood mothers and grandmothers accepted him as one of their own. Nonetheless, the younger generation wishing to gain the freedoms and benefits of this country attacked him and called him a spic.
James Loewen shares that European immigrants moved out of the inner-city and moved into white America. Blacks were prohibited from being caught in white communities after dark as a form of residential segregation. Immigrants’ assimilation was accompanied by an exclusion of people of color already in the United States.
Immigrants of Color Assimilation Process
Does Black History teach that immigrants of color’s assimilation process are very different from European immigrants? Will Black History month explain why immigrants of color must assimilate into the white European ways of talking, thinking, fashions, hairstyles, and child-rearing.
Black History month always focuses on the racial strides made by such leaders as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Thurgood Marshall, to name a few. Notably, Harriet Tubman said:
I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
What was it that caused a slave not to recognize that they were actually a slave? Does Black History address that?
U.S. History Helps in Understanding Black History
The United States has defined itself since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock as a White Anglo-Saxton Protestant country. Blacks and Native Americans were here before the pilgrims got here, but WASPs do not recognize their citizenship or claim to the land.
The Mexicans are people of Spanish and Native American origin. America granted them citizenship of sorts after the conquest of 1848. They did so without changing the idea that The United States of America was a White Anglo-Saxton Protestant country.
On the Laura Ingraham podcast, former Reagan advisor Pat Buchanan spoke about allowing people of different cultures and ethnicities into America. He claims that African-Americans have not been fully assimilated into U.S. society despite being brought into America some 500 years ago under slavery. Buchanan said:
We know this is true, African-Americans have been here since 1619. They’ve helped build and create the nation. They’re part of its culture and history, and yet we haven’t fully assimilated African-American citizens.
Black History Month must look into the white culture into which immigrants are being assimilated. Then the Black History participants must take a real look themselves to determine the level of assimilation that has taken place personally. Many have said:
Black people have become more white than white people, assimilation.
Self-analysis and self-correction then make the determination the level of assimilation.
Opinion News by Omari Jahi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
AlterNet: Assimilation is a Double-Edged Sword for Immigrants; by Aviva Chomsky
Stanford: What history tells us about the assimilation of immigrants
Mediaite: Pat Buchanan Tells Laura Ingraham ‘African-Americans’ Have Not ‘Fully Assimilated;’ by Caleb Ecarma
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of GPA Photo Archive’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by John Mathew Smith Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image Courtesy of pixxiestails’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License