Black History Month Should Be Wrapped in EmpowermentFeb 08, 2022
Black History Month is a lot like watermelon because they were both once connected to experiences that brought and displayed Black Joy!
Black History Month was JOYFUL! It showed Black Pride and Excellence! Yet now, many Black students dislike Black History Month because it's a time when they are reminded of when their ancestors were enslaved, with constant images of pain.
Watermelon was a source of Black Joy and FREEDOM. It symbolized Black independence. Yet now, tons of Black people fear eating Watermelon in public and experience second-hand embarrassment even witnessing another Black person doing so. Yes, the watermelon in public thing is real- check out my next post!
What should you know about Black History?
Well, the father of Black History is Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
He was the first known scholar to study Black history and founded "The Journal of Negro History" in 1916. (Note, we don't use the word "Negro" anymore.)
Before Black history month, there was only a week. And Dr. Carter G. Woodson started this!
The second week of February was dedicated to learning about Black history.
This meant Black inventors, creators, and accomplishments.
What we can do...
Black History Week, now Black History month, is meant to be a time when young Black children, who live in a world where they are constantly being taught about White accomplishments, are reminded of all of the people who came before them. Everyone who has polished their crown.
After each lesson, Black children should feel empowered and proud.
What about Watermelon?
Watermelon was once a HUGE SYMBOL OF FREEDOM and Joy FOR FREE BLACK people!
When enslaved people received emancipation during the Civil War, watermelon was a fruit that Free Blacks knew well, as it was often given to enslaved people to grow on their own.
Free Blacks then sold watermelon in the markets and ate it together as a symbol of freedom and enjoyment. It was also a way to make money on their own!
The joy and independence that watermelon brought Free Blacks became a threat...
Unfortunately, this was perceived by many racist Americans as a threat to "the order of things" in America. Thus, a smear campaign began.
The media began to create images that connected watermelon with Black laziness, childishness, and an inability to properly care for oneself without a "master."
Notice the similarities?
Black people stopped eating watermelon (or at least enjoying it in public) to fight against the stereotype, especially as they attempted to gain acceptance and joy in the "working" world.
Now, think about the images and films you see during Black History Month...Images of hurt and pain.
Images that have some Black children decide that BHM is their least favorite month of all.
Wrap Black History in Empowerment and Joy!
If it ain't about joy then it ain't Black History!
Even if it's a tough topic, it needs to be wrapped in the arms of empowerment.
It needs to shine the crown of your Black students.
(Even if you don't have any, imagine a Black child is in the room every time you discuss Black history. Are your words shining their crown?)