Black History Month is why “black lives matter”

February is Black History Month. This means that out of the 366 days of this year, 29 of them will be dedicated to celebrating black excellence. By March, however, the narrative of black Americans will reset to criminalization, systemic racism and second-class citizenry.  In the remaining 337 days, black Americans will return to crying out “I can’t breathe” while suffocating under the grip of the U.S. criminal justice system — and at the same time shouting, “hands up, don’t shoot” and“pants up, don’t loot.” Yet despite the persistence of civil rights violations throughout history, many challenge the need and even the legitimacy of Black History Month out of a belief that the gesture is self-serving and obsolete; however, the assumption that BHM was designed for an earlier era and is now of no use is not only reductive but also extremely misguided. Regardless of what year it is, attributing the month of February to the history and veneration of black Americans despite racial inequality explains a critically important point — why “Black Lives Matter.”

Clueless actress and former Fox News contributor Stacey Dash, who is Bajan, black and Mexican, called for the elimination of BHM as well as Black Entertainment Television in a series of dangerous, overtly simplistic statements made to Fox and Friends on Jan. 20. She said: “Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.”

She continued to say that BET promoted segregation and lied to “American black people by telling them that the rest of America is racist” in a follow-up essay. To Dash, it is important to note that racial equality condemns both segregation and integration, as they are the foundations of institutionalized racism. Discrimination from government organizations, banks, courts of law and unequal access to quality education implicitly put black Americans at a disadvantage, rendering their ability to “integrate” nearly impossible. It is important to note that Dash’s use of the word “integrate” is a double-edged sword in that black Americans should be able to participate as themselves — as black Americans — in society, not abandon their racial identity to integrate into society.

In honor of BHM — and seeing that Black History is not taught from a black perspective but a predominantly white one — it is more than appropriate to use the history itself to explain how the past defines the racial injustices of today. There are two fundamental works conveniently left out of all levels of education: Slavery by Another Name and The New Jim Crow — the first, a documentation of the advent of industrial slavery in post-Civil War America and its criminalization of black people into second-class citizenry. At this time, the convict lease system relegated black Americans into forced laborers, imprisoned by the U.S. justice system as encouraged by states, local government, white farmers and corporations until World War II. The latter work traces the narrative of segregation and so-called integration well after the Civil Rights Movement, as seen with the mass incarceration of black Americans as a result of the disproportionate and skewed policing of the war on drugs. Since the 1980s, black Americans have been segregated through legalized discrimination and unfair prison sentences, which resulted in the inability to integrate in society after incarceration. The murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and countless others as a result of unwarranted racial profiling and subsequent police brutality illustrate how black Americans are segregated from equal protection under law and are unable to integrate into society due to the color of their skin, which either criminalizes or commodifies them.

In light of the harsh realities of what it means to be black in America, U.S. history illustrates the need for the veneration, understanding and awareness of the other side of Black History. The month of February is important because it is a gesture of recognition and visibility to a group of Americans who are more often than not silenced, oppressed and altogether ignored. Above all else, it is ignorant to assume that racism only has a place in history as it is very much a part of today and the future. In spite of generations of structural violence and subsequent discrimination, black Americans prove that they are and always will be resilient — and the observation of BHM translates into solidarity against racism, acknowledging that “Black Lives Matter.”

Lida Dianti is a junior majoring in international relations. Her column, “That’s So Racist!,” runs  Wednesdays.

3 replies
  1. TylerHerndon
    TylerHerndon says:

    Ok people. I. AM. NOT. RACIST. I have black friends. In my class I sit with 2 black students, 2 Hispanic, and one biracial (black/Asian). I like all of them. But I am not a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement, or basically society right now. Everyone finds racism in everything, like the Oscars. Now that there’s no black nominees, the Academy is all of the sudden racist. Remember Gone With the Wind? Yeah, maybe your grandma does from over half a century ago. A black woman won the award for best supporting actress. Remember Jamie Foxx in “Ray”? He won Best Actor. Remember that woman who won Best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave”?, about the hardships of black lives in the slavery era? AND that movie one Best Picture. And it wasn’t that long ago, the 2013 Academy Awards. You can not tell me that the Academy has suddenly turned racist. I’m calling bullshit on that one. Look, black lives matter. They do. Look at society now. This generation is so accepting of race. At my high school (I’m not 17), if you’re racist, people will kick your ass. Black people have the same rights as the rest of us. They have it much harder though because they are still recovering from the forced poverty of the last century. It’s a chain reaction. And it is harder for them to get jobs because there is that small portion of people who are still racist. The only problem is . . . what can we do? Nothing really. That person is still racist. We can’t stop racism. There is always that small portion of people who are biased. Please can someone tell me the point of BLM, because I can’t figure out the point. What have they truly accomplished?

  2. KnutesNiche
    KnutesNiche says:

    I’d like to preface my comments by mentioning I am NOT a person who embraces the ignorant, people dividing Black vs White or White vs Black game a significant number of my American neighbors wish to embrace. I’m a person who grew up in the sixties embracing the values of peace, love and unity espoused by many of my American neighbors of all flavors during that period of American history.

    I recognize and appreciate the issues of inequality raised by members and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    I realize there are inequalities that still need to be addressed for us to continue evolving toward becoming a more peaceful, emotionally healthy nation. I understand the pain, anger, frustrations and disappointment experienced by human beings who feel as though they are being cheated, oppressed, or not treated with the same respect all peaceful Americans are entitled to.

    My life experiences also force me to realize there is a significant population of immature American teen girls and adult women my experiences tell me are responsible for impeding a substantial population of peaceful, caring, loving Americans from finding internal peace, and enjoying the respect all peaceful Americans deserve.

    Frankly, I too experience pain, anger, frustration and disappointment caused by an American system and society that permits and seemingly encourages the human oppression, abuse and/or neglect of our Nation’s most precious and valuable resource, our children.

    I am disappointed and frustrated by a significant population of immature moms like Baltimore mom and grandmother Toya Graham who I believe had no morally or ‘legally’ acceptable right to introduce SIX children to a life of hardships and struggles while depending on her responsible neighbors to feed, clothe and house her SIX children. One of whom was observed joining other depressed teens in attempting to cause grave bodily harm or death to police officers charged with protecting peaceful people from angry, depressed teens like her son Michael and many of his depressed classmates.

    I am deeply troubled by moms much like Tavis Smiley’s mom, who as a teen irresponsibly began building a family of ten children she introduced to a life of childhood oppression, pain, hardship and struggles. In May of 2015 Tavis revealed to a national and worldwide audience his nine brothers and sisters continue struggling from the affects of Poverty, aka Childhood Trauma and Abuse.

    No one forced Toya Graham or Tavis Smiley’s mom to irresponsibly introduce sixteen human lives to a life of pain and struggle.

    Ms. Graham and Mrs. Smiley are much like countless numbers of depressed, immature teen moms across our nation who made a conscious decision to introduce their children to a life of emotional pain and turmoil causing them to experience life scarring Childhood Trauma that Grammy winner and victim of Childhood Abuse and Neglect Kendrick Lamar laments his “living wild,” Violent Felon embracing mom and dad caused him, his three siblings and numerous cousins to experience…instead of experiencing a fairly happy American kid childhood with Safe Streets to travel and play on that all young kids have a right enjoy.

    I am sad, angry, frustrated and disappointed that a majority of my American neighbors choose to ignore the child oppression, abuse and neglect many immature, irresponsible moms like Ms. Graham and Mrs. Smiley cause their/society’s children to experience during a critical period of their human development.

    Frankly, I believe these mom should be held criminally liable for receiving public funds to support their children, and then failing to place the emotional well being of their children above all else, often resulting with kids like Freddie Gray maturing into a depressed teen and adult who causes harm to himself and his struggling or peaceful neighbors.

    Sadly, far too many children raised by criminally negligent moms often develop into depressed, angry, frustrated, unpredictable, sometime suicidal *(NY Times May 18, 2015 – Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers)* teens and adults causing emotional and physical harm to their peaceful neighbors, resulting with the police becoming involved.

    Sadly, regularly dealing with depressed, emotionally disturbed teens and adults much like Kendrick, Tupac Shakur, Freddie Gray and Michael Singleton took a toll on my emotional well being that resulted with me abandoning a Brooklyn community after spending twelve years of my life as a cop trying to protect peaceful people from Violent Felons who raised depressed kids like Kendrick Lamar, an emotionally damaged man who publicly speaks about his torment dealing with childhood and adult depression, as well as experiencing suicidal thoughts.

    Yes, some police officers need to do a better job of remaining professional, adhering to their training, keeping cool, not allowing the human suffering and oppression of children and teens many police officers witness on a daily basis to erode their humanity or basic human respect for others.

    Just as some single and married moms need to do a better job of parenting by raising, nurturing, socializing and supervising infants, toddlers and children who mature into fairly happy, responsible teens and adults respecting their peaceful neighbors and the authority figures responsible for maintaining peace in our neighborhoods.

    I’m sorry to pick on moms, though since ancient times they are the primary caregivers we look to keep us safe, cared for and loved right from our start.
    Doctors Ross and Dietz offer insights into how our Early Childhood Development plays a key role in determining the type of individual we mature into.

    Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO of The California Endowment, addressed inmates at Ironwood State Prison offering a compelling overview of the role that exposure to childhood trauma plays in the lives of *emotionally troubled* and chronically ill American teens and adults.


    At 2:12:25 in this documentary about Mafia hitman and victim of Early Childhood Trauma/Abuse, Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, Dr. Park Dietz explains why young Richard most likely developed into a emotionally disturbed, paranoid, cruel, heartless teen and man who did not give a frig about anyone else, including his wife and kids.



    *(NY Times May 18, 2015 – Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers)*

    Black *(Children’s)* Lives Matter; Take Pride In Parenting; *End Our National Epidemic of Child Abuse and Neglect*; End Community Violence, Police Fear & Educator’s Frustrations

    TAGS: injustice, inequality, police, police integrity, police misconduct, police anxiety, police aggression, police training, child abuse, child neglect, child maltreatment, child oppression, childhood depression, black lives matter, maternal responsibility, gangs, drug abuse, gun violence, community violence, teen depression, teen violence, teen suicide, adult depression, educator/teacher frustration, sadness, solutions?,

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