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Why Black History Month is So Controversial in America

The United States of America marks the 28-days February as Black History Month (BHM), to acknowledge the achievements of African Americans. Apart from the US, countries like Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands also observe this month.   

The phenomenon is not as simple as it may seem due to controversies surrounding it. This mere acknowledgment of the landmarks achieved by African Americans is the subject of heated debate in America.

Let’s have a look at what this BHM is all about with a critical analysis of arguments in favor and against of the phenomenon.

What is Black History Month All About?

Carter G. Woodson, historian, journalist and author of African American descent pioneered the concept with the introduction of Negro History Week in 1926. It was in 1969 when Black United Students of Kent University proposed the idea of Black History Month and observed it for the first time in February 1970. After six years, in 1976 the US President Gerald Field finally recognized BMH. The reason behind choosing February is that month marks the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

Nowadays Black History Month is all about dedicating a month of February for teaching the kids about significant accomplishments of the African American. Kids in schools learn about personalities like Hiram Rhodes Revels, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parker, Malcolm X, Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver and other such prominent names.

Black History Month

Debate around Black History Month

A better way to comprehend the controversy around the BHM can be looking at the discussion by critically evaluating arguments.

Arguments against the BHM

  1.    BHM is very much racist, as there is no White History Day. Further, white don’t want to relegate their history in this way.
  2.     A celebration of the Black History Month just includes the African Americans. It doesn’t pay tribute to the struggle of Africans against colonialism.
  3.    BHM is more about American Civil War, and hence it is not inclusive of African immigrants.
  4.    According to Hollywood actor, Morgan Freeman, Black History Month is more about American History, so he doesn’t want it.
  5.    BHM just explains the struggles of black Americans against the slavery. In this way, it demonstrates that Black people identify themselves as slaves in the past. But facts contradict such history, as Africa has seen the black skinned kings too.

Arguments in Favor of Black History Month

This is what pro-Black History Day, have to say.

  1.    If celebrating Black History Day is racist as it targets a particular ethnicity, then there should be no women’s day because it focuses on a specific gender.
  2.    Black History Month originated in the United States, and it is about the struggle of African Americans, so a mention of Africans struggle against colonialism is not much necessary.
  3.    Recognizing BHM is not entirely useless. It would teach coming generation about the foundation of America and how it treated the slaves in the past. It would let the kids to critically evaluate the evil of prejudice on the base of color, cast, and creed.
  4.    If there is a need of remembering black history in a complete context of the rise and fall, then African states, where Black race is in the majority, should take such step.

So, controversy about BHM is all due to different perspectives on the same subject. The fact that other countries also celebrate the month makes it necessary for the US to include the entire African history of this race. Such attempt might render Black History Month less controversial.

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