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The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

What Black History Month means to me


Various African flags.

 The month of February can mean a lot of things to different people. For some, it’s the worst month of winter, with frigid nights and blizzards happening all too often. For others, it’s most commonly associated with Valentine’s Day, a day for love and romance. However, for many Americans, February signifies Black History Month, a month to remember and study Black history in the United States. Black History Month to many Americans brings a time to celebrate Black joy as well as acknowledge Black suffering. It is no secret that Black Americans have suffered greatly. From slavery to Jim Crow to police brutality, the plight of Black Americans in the United States has been one of hardship to hardship. So, what does Black History Month mean to me, as a college student in Boston?

I will start by clearly stating: I am not Black, nor do I claim to speak on behalf of Black Americans. I will discuss these issues as a non-Black North African and the child of two immigrants. 

Being Black in the United States is hard. Although all types of minorities face different kinds of discrimination, Black Americans face particularly harsh forms of discrimination as a result of the historical systems set in place to intentionally disadvantage them. For me, Black History Month is a time to celebrate Black pride, Black leaders and acknowledge the role America has played in the oppression of Black people. Once we recognize the systemic oppression of Black Americans, then we can fight oppression together.

Black History Month is a great month to study and research some of America’s great Black leaders. From famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to highly controversial people like Malcolm X, the United States has had a whole host of powerful Black leaders that lead extremely influential lives. However, as with most famous people, their legacy can be tainted by some of the choices they make. Regardless, it’s important to study and understand the influence these people have had on Black America. 

Despite Black History Month’s significant work in spreading knowledge about Black America, some still claim that Black History Month doesn’t do enough to truly represent Black America.  Cynthia Tucker wrote an article in the Baltimore Sun titled, “Black History Month trivializes Black history.” In her article, she discusses the ways that Black History Month does not truly celebrate Black America. She writes, “Black History Month does much to suggest that the contributions, struggles and individual sagas of black Americans belong outside the main body of American history” (1). The reality is that Black history is just as much a part of American history as the history of European Americans, however, Black History Month seems to indicate to Tucker that Black history is and should be studied independently from traditional American history.

To conclude, I will quote the words of human rights activist, Black Muslim minister and Black leader, Malcolm X: “The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories rather than economic equity and real justice” (2). Unfortunately, public gestures can come off as shallow and meaningless. It’s critical that during Black History Month, our gestures aren’t shallow, but have true meaning behind them. It’s one thing to send an email celebrating Black History Month and it’s a whole other thing to do actions that lift Black folks from their oppression. 

  1. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2007-02-26-0702260034-story.html 

  2. https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/02/03/political-platitudes-do-nothing-for-black-canadians-stuck-at-back-of-the-bus/281805