Saturday, January 30, 2010

Black History Month

This is kind of my pros and cons on the topic.

The first con is the way these things change names. I suspect that African-American History Month is the pc name nowadays, but I'm not looking it up right now. The name thing is, I think, irritating to many "European" Americans. Seriously. Can't we all just be Americans?

That, I suppose, is, albeit it in a somewhat convoluted way, the point. Equality of all Americans, and the historical lack thereof.

Which is why I do, typically, observe in our home school, this focus of history. If we haven't previously focused on the lives of prominent African American, I make a point in February to point out some of the movers and shakers. Read books about their lives. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman. The latter, by the way, was one of Ethan's first favorite historical characters - she was one of mine in elementary school too.

These men and woman truly made a difference in history to change this inequality. so learning about them, and how they changed things that were horribly unjust is my biggest "pro" for a month with this theme.

This year we spent a day once again learning about the work of Dr. King. Our primary American history text this year follows a simple timeline of American history with each chapter being a biography, starting with Columbus and ending at the turn of the century with Billy Sunday. Along the way we will learn about Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver (who I fear will generate as much confusion as Martin Luther of the 95 Theses and Dr. King).

But here is my big "con" question. Why are people focused on and studied this month just because they are African American? Famous football players, an astronaut, a newscaster, whatever. If they were the first to break into a field dominated by bias and prejudice,marian Anderson, for example, then, yes, this is historically significant. But if they just happen to have a certain skin color, why are we spending time learning about them anymore than the guy beside them that is white, yellow, or brown? I think it's missing the point. Or at least, what I think the point should be.

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