Skip to comments.Is Black History Month getting diluted?
Posted on 02/20/2007 12:34:26 PM PST by presidio9
Black History Month: Come February, the now-familiar observance seems to inspire ever more and ever more random celebrations.
The players are both big and small. Multinational corporations mount billboard campaigns, while community centers hold fashion shows and tourist spots highlight their connection to black history.
But does saturation equal success?
While the concept of Black History Month has been widely embraced in pop culture, it means some of the nation's most bitter history also is getting watered down into cliches or irrelevance. Some events have no historical tie-in at all they're merely topics of interest to African-Americans. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, black history is used as a kind of commercial brand, which can feel off-key.
"It has become very mainstream," said Sheri Parks, a professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. "I do think it's been diluted. Some of this seems like an excuse to put things on sale."
At Drexel University in Philadelphia, February events range from panel discussions about affirmative action and self-segregation on campus to a black art sale and an African American Down-Home Soul Food Dinner.
In Maryland's Prince George's County, there's Black History Magic, African Jewelry Making and a Black History Cheerleading Show.
A new-age center in Oakland, Calif., offered Mindful Drumming for Opening Minds and Healing Hearts and the University of Cincinnati's United Black Student Association has planned an event about online privacy titled "Has Facebook gone too far?"
Is this black history?
Though well-intentioned, the events are probably not what historian Carter G. Woodson had in mind when he created Negro History Week in 1926. He taught for decades that blacks must know their past before they could envision a brighter future.
By 1976, his organization, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, had turned the week into Black History Month.
"The resistance was tremendous all over the country," said Maurice Thornton, a historian at the State University of New York at Albany. "There was a countervailing group who were doing their best to erase black history from the general public."
They lost the battle.
This month, Thornton said he gave a black history speech at the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. "They're reaching out and want to let the world know that they're not just the old folks who tap your phones like they did during the civil rights era," he said.
Each night this month, there are several black history television programs to choose from from BET's "Tupac: Thug Angel" to "Inside the Actors Studio" featuring two-hour interviews with Diana Ross and Eddie Murphy.
President Bush marked the month by holding a ceremony honoring modern-day black heroes including a New York City construction worker who saved a man from an oncoming subway train and an Olympic skier who lost her leg.
Black History Month "does caricature itself at times," said Linda Symcox, author of "Whose History?: The Struggle for National Standards in American Classrooms," about revising American history to include minority groups. Though she believes the month is a good thing overall, she said some events cross the line.
"If I were an African-American, I would be offended by having the month of February be some kind of palliative," she said.
Proof that corporate America has discovered Black History Month came Feb. 4, when the Super Bowl for the first time featured two African-American coaches, Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith.
Both the broadcast of the game itself and ads between the action featured numerous references to the NFL first. Frito Lay had a commercial showing black families bonding over a football game with an announcer's voice saying, "We've got more than a game here. We've got history." One Coca-Cola commercial played a blues piano melody and listed key moments in black history alongside a soda bottle, ending with: "Coca-Cola celebrates Black History. Especially today."
Some viewers said it was a fitting nod to Black History Month. "It was done well it was subtle," said Lawrence C. Ross, a consumer strategist for Iconoculture, a consumer trend research company in Los Angeles. Other commercials, however, tended to be "ham-handed."
Parks felt there were too many ads highlighting black history. "With the first one, I smiled," she said. "By the third one, I wasn't smiling anymore. I wondered if they were exploiting (black history) and why."
But, she added, commercialism is inevitable in American culture. "It's unrealistic in this culture to say that Black History Month should be noncommercial. This is how we do it."
Indeed, this month, you can even take a vacation linked to black history.
At Christopher's B&B in Bellevue, Ky., tourists can pay $137 per night for their National Underground Railroad Freedom Center package, which includes a stay in a "junior jacuzzi room" and two adult tickets to the nearby museum.
The promotion is part of a push by Bedandbreakfast.com to steer visitors toward 14 historic homes that have connections to the secret network that once helped slaves escape to freedom, said Sandy Soule, editor of the Web site.
"This is the first year we've done this," Soule said. "I think we're going to make this a tradition."
Black history month is a national disgrace.
"Black History Month" Isn't it a crock!
Next thing they will want is their own drinkiing fountains!
I am really tired of black history month, hispanic history month, blah blah blah.
When will we get Italian history month?
"Yet a White History Month would be racist..."
As long as we continue to categorize ourselves, we will continue to arbitrarily divide ourselves.
Brings to mind something about a House Divided.
Question: If we already had an entire "Black History Month," why did we also need a made up holiday in December to dilute the Christmas season?
Having it in the shortest month of the year is clearly racist.
Having this month is the wrong idea. First, it's American history. Second, the left is only trying to separate people into opposing groups.
Since the left would never agree to Polish history month, or German, or French, or whatever, the whole concept has to be trashed.
"Question: If we already had an entire "Black History Month," why did we also need a made up holiday in December to dilute the Christmas season?"
As with most things that happen in this world... follow the money. There is big money in amplifying, and working on the business of division and inequality, (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton come to mind).
Having it period is clearly racist!
Well, speaking as a European-American, I'm outraged!
(just kidding. :))
And don't forget that June is "Gay Heritage Month" -I sh!t you not. Please ignore the fact that shirtlifters can't procreate, so they have no "heritage" in the general sense of the term.
That is easy my FRiend....its because Christmas is a racist season! Celebrating the season by dreaming of a "WHITE" Christmas? Gets no more racist than that!
Is there a plain History month?
Black history month is a national disgrace.
Yes, a celebration of race-baiting, frivolous pursuit of reparations for slavery, and unexcelled victimization in exchange for votes. At the same time, we should celebrate fine upstanding Americans like Jesse J., Al Sharpton, etc. Such pride we take in these fine Americans.
Black History Month is liberalism's method of keeping the slaves on the plantation to do their bidding. Heaven forbid there should ever be anything known as an American History Month, teaching Patriotism and Pride of being an American. Teach a lie often enough and soon the people you want to keep as slaves begin to believe the lie. Ask Rev. Al and Rev. Jessie.
I was once in a store owned by a major book seller chain and one employee came up and pointed to the black history books out for black history month and told me it was all political. He said that no one ever bought the books,and this is a store in Atlanta,Ga which has a major black market.
The problem I have is that now we study a little black history one month of the year and ignore American history year round.
One question... When is it?
Black history should include key events in the history of slavery and Jim Crow, such as the fact the the Democrats were the party of racism and slavery from America's beginnings right on through the post-1964 civil rights era (to say nothing of the present).
If anyone has that historical list of dates on this issue, I'd appreciate if you'd post it.
I think the Democratic Party owes a national apology to all American black people, and to the world, for its leading role in the persecution of the black race.
Oh well. Maybe next life.
Would that result in a Gray History Month?
The 5 Minute University celebration of Black History Month
Slavery - bad
George Washington Carver
Martin Luther King
You have now completed your study requirements for Black History Month
That is why February is also a popular diet month...
Be wary of any claims to "connections" to the underground railroad. My husband's extended family in Kentucky owned a very nice home (circa mid-1800s) right on the Ohio River. It had fallen into some disrepair and a few years ago a distance cousin from California bought it and fixed it up as a tourist spot. The older family members were quite surprised to learn that runaway slaves used to hide in the outbuildings and were smuggled north.
Makes me question a lot of what I'm told about historic sites.
From The Onion: "Nation To Celebrate First-Ever Black History Month History Week"
Watering down is the American way. Christmas is a retail shopping orgy, Valentine's Day a card and jewelry sale and Halloween sells more candy than Easter.
Black History Month is when Budweiser and Coke market to African-Americans and PBS TV can rerun some shows on the Civil Rights era to highlight how hard the Democrats worked for that group (despite more Republicans in the Senate voting for the bill than Democrats).
Yes, really? It's just a celebration of black Americans anyways. And actually, just black Americans in music, sports and political radicalism.
There are many fine black scientists in the world that thye could show students, like the late great Doctor Job Bwayo. If he wasn't murdered, his great mind could have led to neutralizing the most puzzling virii that has ever plauged mankind, HIV. But instead of demonstrating great black people from around the world in science and technology, they'd rather show African American rappers, athletes and political radicals.
This is clearly a BET created holiday.
Guessing it is sort of analogous to a side of a house that is rotting and the paint is ugly because of the rot. You could simply paint over the rot, but then the rot could just seep through, the rot could still spread, and the house could still be weakened. Before the side of the house can be painted over, the rotting wood underneath has to be removed and replaced; then the new paint can come in. Does this make sense? (an actual question--and not a carpenter).
So, the goal definitely should be a single, unified American society where some people are light skinned, other darker skinned, some with tightly curly hair, others with ramrod straight hair, etc. But before that can happen, the conflicts which do exist ought to be addressed and resolved. Then there can be a moving forward.
It only takes a few racists (from any people group (race)) to change a human's opinion about an entire people group.
Somthing tells me that Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, and Condoleezza Rice will spend about thirty seconds COMBINED thinking about black history this February. They have more important things to think about.
.....light skinned, others darker skinned.....
There are certainly many fine black Americans integral to the history of our country. Although I couldnt give a ra+$-a$$ about P Diddy, I find myself fascinated with someone like George Washington Carver.
I can't believe Bush only focused on it one day out of a whole munt.
Booker T. Washington is getting less and less attention while his contemparary W.E.B. Dubois gets more and more attention. Washington advocated getting ahead via practical education, a work ethic, disciplined personal spending, and other traditional American means. Dubois advocated socialism and top-down legislation.
The fall of the Soviet Union should have debunked Dubois. But it is too popular to believe that Washington's work ethic "sucked up to the Man". It is too bad that Washington's book UP FROM SLAVERY is not read more often in our schools.
And Irish history month (we do have St. Patrick's Day)
ABSOLUTELY! I just read 'Up From Slavery' last year for the first time...a remarkable man.
Exactly what you said. It is a shame. HE should have been the model for black success. What he did, worked.
Is Black History Month getting diluted?"
I call it "Black History Two Months". At the last two places I've worked, the decorations seem to go up mid-January and come down mid-March. Maybe that's why it's diluted.
When asked about 'Black History Month', he said something to the effect of 'Why only celebrate Black History for one month? Who's to say that one month is long enough?'
I agree completely, and would do away with all of the foolish things. Celebrating one race/culture/whatever at the expense of another, is just sanctioned discrimination.
All that you named were on the list of Black Americans that the 3rd graders at my daughter's school were assigned to do reports on this month.
In talking with teacher I happened to ask her how she chose who to assign which person to and she told me if a student knew who someone was they didn't get that person. she tried to assign ones the kids didn't know.........thus my daughter wound up doing a report on Arthur Ashe instead of Sowell, Thomas or Rice.
The house had a basement, and 'root cellar / sub-basement' connected to it. There was a "secret" underground tunnel between the sub-basement and the stable. Cool stuff, when you're a kid.