As I sit here in beginning of the second week of February 2022 I find myself looking at the problems of the world differently. Currently all over America we have a war against the pandemic restrictions, a war on voting rights, a war on Critical Race Theory, a war against poverty, a war against history and probably a few more I can't think of right now. Even though we feel like we are in unprecedented times, it really isn't too far from the norm when it comes to people exercising their "freedoms" in this country. I mean, think about it, we have always had some form of war over vaccinations, government control over people and spending, racial inequality and justice, and also the massive divide between the rich and the poor. If we add to that religious beliefs, freedoms and abuses around the world, we realize the only differences in our history is the ups and downs of the which war is at the forefront of our minds at any given time.
Now, one of those from that list has once again been pushed to the forefront and has led me down this particular rabbit hole. That being the war on history. Wait, doesn't the title of this blog say, "No more Black History Month?" Yes, yes, it does. Don't worry I'll get to that in a bit. But first, let me get back to the war on history. Right now, as I type these words, around the US there are politicians, parents, religious groups and other groups working hard to ban books and the teaching of certain stories of history. This has been all over the news. Hell, in fact, one religious guy had a book burning session recently. Now, the common theme in most of this war on history has to do with racism, sexual identity, contradictions to religious teachings/beliefs and anything that would make "White" kids feel uncomfortable. Wait, what? That isn't something I am writing to drum up controversy. It has actually been used as a reason for not teaching Critical Race Theory (CTR) which, mind you, isn't actually being taught in any level of schools under 12th grade. For the average person all this is simply crazy, and that, the crazy part, got me thinking about the real problem we have with this war on history. Let me explain.
Growing up in Los Angeles I remember hearing American history called HIS-story as in the White man's story. It isn't a surprise that the lessons taught in America tend to lean more towards the White interpretation of our history. As it is said, history is left to the victors. Those who control the power also control the narrative. This is something we are seeing first-hand as the demand and push for "the stories" are getting louder and louder from those whose stories aren't being told. Those who are in power are doing everything they can to control the narrative. Because of racial tensions, bias, misunderstandings and hate, this war on history is made easier because everyone wants "their" story to be told. So, how do we fight a war on history when the goal is to stop telling HIS-story? Oddly enough, one of my solutions is to get rid of Black History Month. Again, wait, what? Yes, you heard me correctly that Black History Month needs to go. Let's go down that rabbit hole.
The reason it is so easy to divide and conquer America is because we spend all of our time trying to prove "our" own version of it. There are all these variations of the story from every group. We spend our time gripping tightly to the narratives we have been taught from everything that defines us: our heritage, our beliefs and, yes, our history. But it isn't history we are learning. It is HIS-story! Not like I learned growing up in LA but broader than that because the same can be said for ALL groups. From the outsider everyone is telling a version of their "HIS-story" and they are right. We tell stories for contradiction to the narrative of, usually, the power that be. As long as they (pick a side it doesn't matter) can keep every group screaming no one will see the truth nor will they demand it. This brings me to a quote I reference all the time from the 2000 movie Gladiator where the character Gracchus says, "I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they'll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it's the sand of the coliseum. He'll bring them death - and they will love him for it." The reason I highlight the last part is because it is the crux of my thinking about the problem with HIS-story in this country. Give people enough to argue about and they will not see "death" coming for them. In this case, "death" is our true stories. To put it simply, we are in a time when we are watching the games at the coliseum and we are cheering on as our very own Rome falls around us. But we can stop that from happening any longer which brings me (finally) to Black History Month.
Black History Month is a trap. It is and always has been a pacifier to the nation so that we don't ask about our (America's) history. Every culture has a story that is uniquely told from their points of view. Every story has a unique point of view from each person who lived it. Take something like 9/11 where we all have a different perspective on what happened that day. My perspective, being in Washington State and active duty member of the US Air Force, is vastly different than someone who escaped from one of the Twin Towers. Each story would be true but just telling one side would be incomplete. So, in that thought, we have come as a nation to believe that our individual stories as our respective race is nothing more than subtopics to American history. The truth is ALL of it it IS American history. Having a Black History Month allows us to segregate the knowledge of what happened. It is the reason we can have people screaming they don't want their children feeling like they are racist because telling the "Black" story would contradict the known history of the nation. As long as we allow this to be okay then we are complicit in the lack of knowledge of our past and, in that, we are asking for the death of truth. Here's how we fix this:
We must start telling the stories of others in a way to educate and inform. We cannot use the past as a weapon against each other. Minimizing any group to a single day, a week or even a month allows us to "mute" the information for that window. What do I mean by "mute"? Simple. My social media has been flooded with information about Blacks that aren't told, from inventors to pioneers, to heroes, and more. Because it is for one month most of us can scroll on past all that "knowledge" until March 1st where it all goes away. Hell, we can actually snooze people for 30 days on some of the social media sites. In this it all becomes nothing more than taking your car into get serviced or paying your taxes in that we know it needs to be done, but we don't pay it any attention till it's in our face. Once it is done, we move on. It becomes too easy to dismiss and to forget. We must start inviting others into see our versions of what life was like and paint the full (as full as we can) picture of what OUR-story is about. We don't need Black History Month or any other (race) month because history is our collective story. I'm going to end this blog with this last thought.
We must not fear our history as a group, a people, a race, a nation, or a world because it is our history that tells us both what horrible things we have done/can do and what amazing things we have done/can do. We are not prisoners to our past, nor are we indebted to it, but we do owe our past its truth and our present its proper place. Every new lesson we learn that changes what was known gives us a better perspective on what we do next. Hate can only only thrive when we, for lack of a better word, whitewash the past. MY-story, YOUR-story, HIS-story should be OUR-story. Let us face our past not in fear of what we might see but in hopes of what we might learn and grow from. America has it's secrets and it is time she let them free. Just a Thought, my friends. LETME.