I feel the need defend myself for the title of this message simply because it can come across as selfish to my own personal needs as a Black woman. However, I attempt to let my communication to the world be one for ALL, and one that compliments Dr. Montessori's quote: "The whole of mankind is one and only one, one race, one class, and one society." So if this is the first time you're reading one of my pieces, know there were and will be many more like this to acknowledge all races of the global community. Black History [Month] is no more important than Hispanic Heritage, Pacific Islander/Asian-American, or any other celebratory month. However, our origin story (and therefore need to highlight the whole celebration) is different from others. Whereas other folks (excluding Native Americans, who were forcibly removed) immigrated here, Black folks migrated... and by that, I'm referring to our capture from Africa, bondage (which started on foot for miles on end before being packaged worse than Amazon boxes into the cargo ships--that now waver for days on end in international waters due to Covid--to endure inhuman conditions where many perished), and finally, enslavement. The harsh reality, and one that has more recently been banned by our nation's school systems, is that though we celebrate, we do so while still fighting off the lasting effects that weren't 400 years ago. They're still happening today. Maybe you were looking for a message that highlights Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, [Dr.] Martin Luther King, Jr., or the other famous individuals we bring up this time of year. If so, this message will leave you disappointed. Before you move on to easily clickable, printable, and dispersible content—which I have use for the majority of my teaching career, please hear me out for a few moments as I explain why the annual celebration begs for more than a date on a calendar.
"Slavery happened SO LONG AGO!" People who often say this are exactly right! BUT right now, in 2022, Black folks and allies are fighting against our governmental institutions of education, who defend the dominating (meaning most accessible, most published, most taught) white- perspective. These soften the blow of enslavement, give narratives of justification, and neglect the perspective of its victims. There exists a multitude of resources from the voice of the enslaved that tells a very different story, fighting to be shared. Yes, these sources villainize the white people who partook in enslavement (and benefited from its products) ... and it should! BUT the modern day, educated reader can deduce that the underlying narrative is "This disgusting act of inhumanity and those who instituted/perpetuated it do not represent liberty and justice for all" NOT (and use your best robot voice) "All white people are bad." Blacks persist to argue about the accuracy and effects of its harmful and lasting existence.
Speaking about slavery is honoring the horrific origin of the Black American. Surely our ancestry is rooted from the Mother Land, but most of it was lost, so a new species was formed over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We have adapted AND many never forgotten that part of our history. Black History must include the patchwork of our Blackness: enslavement.
Read with your children:
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water (yep, this book has been banned in many areas)
Honest Abe and Emancipation: Fact: Abraham Lincoln fathered the Emancipation Proclamation. Fact: The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 “thenceforward, and forever [did not] free… all persons held as slaves…” Word did not make it to Texas until June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth) when the last slaves were emancipated. Fact: The emancipated practiced freedom within limits… sharecropping, voting restrictions, Jim Crow, segregation, restrictions from interracial marriage, victims of hate crimes, Civil Rights, police brutality, victims of hate crimes, police brutality, voter suppression, anti-Critical Race Theory… O look! Here we are to the present! (Yes, I’m using sarcasm to make a point: our freedom has heavy restrictions; if you connect the dots, you’ll see what I see… systemic oppression)
BHM 2022: Mark your calendars for February 1-March 1! I mentioned the countless resources out there to support the celebration of our past, present, and hopeful future! Where there are many prideful Black voices, still remain those of us questioning the pride. Until recently, I was too embarrassed to teach/celebrate BHM. I was tired of the watered-down content that made everybody feel good when I didn’t. How can you feel good when you don’t feel like you are far from your ambiguous ancestry? I respect the folks who are stuck in this position. I empathize and offer you a word of hope from my dear friend Sam [Cooke]: “… a change is gonna come.” For those who are ready to take on the true meaning of Christmas, I mean Black History Month… (wrong month), I give you these musts:
NMAAHC Reading Resources
Teaching Black History Month
10 Ideas for Teaching Black History Month
Black History Month: Teaching the Complete History
Teaching Students a New Black History
Black History Month Resource Guide for Educators and Families
Black History Month Teaching Resources
Teaching History Beyond Slavery and Black History Month
Teaching Black History in Culturally Responsive Ways
With Love, Equity and Montessori for ALL!