Black History Month should not begin and end with lessons of American slavery – Shaun King
Black history is celebrated during the month of February across the United States. Although we celebrate Black history Nationwide, a lot of the racial tension in America is due to the mis-education of black culture. This is one reason why school districts should be teaching black history. I believe celebrating Black history is definitely needed. Is Black history just for Black people? Of course not but many schools and communities believe that it is. Teaching Black history helps to build school culture, character development and restorative practices that in turn will decrease the racial tension and prejudices in America. The idea of celebrating Black history to begin with was due to the absence of Black excellence in mainstream American culture. Most schools prepare Black History plays for the month and have students create or complete projects on notable Black leaders. Once February ends, that’s it for Black history until the next year. Teaching Black history throughout the school year helps to improve the performance of Black students and cultural interactions with other races.
Black history isn’t just a celebration of historical and notable Black figures in American society. It’s certainly more than slavery or the ugly realization of racism. The cultural context of Black Americans in history is based on hatred which plays a significant role in our American culture. Coincidently this also plays a huge role in the existence of Black culture in American history. The context in which we teach Black history matters! Teaching cultural differences is important to how we engage with one another. For example, there are police officers who target Black youth. Black youth become victims of stereotypes that label them because of the way they dress and other cultural aspects that aren’t embraced by mainstream society. A lot of the cultural aspects of Black history are not taught. Teaching the cultural context of Black history would help our youth with defying the myths and overcoming prejudice. We cannot improve the culture within American society if we continue neglecting to teach Black history.
School culture plays a huge role in the success of students. Culture is developed and based off of the vision and mission of the school. Strong cultural programs include all races, religions, personal preferences and beliefs should be not only celebrated but taught. I believe the only way to heal and fix the racial divide in America is through teaching. Cultural inclusion is an important tool to teaching black history in America. Across the Nation, the drop out rates and discipline data/suspensions for Black students is higher over their counterparts . We must start to look at what’s missing. Students are learning about the history of America in a one-sided view that objectifies races that aren’t of European descent. The inclusion of Black culture in education is missing from school curriculum. The same lessons on Black history that I was taught, were the same lessons taught to my parents when they were in grade school. Some will argue that culture should be taught at home. I agree. This doesn’t take away the role that schools have in teaching Black history. We will continue to eliminate the hatred of racism through inclusive practices in our teachings and not just our celebrations.
Slavery is not the only part of Black history that should be highlighted in America. The representation of Blacks in America within text books and the media has not truly reflected our race positively. Our ancestors are often portrayed servants or slaves. Those who fought against the injustice experienced by Black citizens were labeled as rebels. Re-defining Black history will help character development for all races. What’s missing from curriculum is the “why” and “how” of Black history. Students would perform better in Math and Science if they were taught the history of Black Wall Street or about the math formula and sciences used build pyramids. The depiction of Blacks in American history impacts the character of Black children who don’t get to see positive images of Black Americans. It’s important that the success of Black children is affirmed in schools. Teaching Black history is a resource to schools implementing character education. Character and culture go hand in hand and Black history is game charger for improving student discipline with Black students.
It’s critical for our schools to teach Black history; not just in predominately Black schools. Schools in all communities should teach Black history to help reduce and eventually end the racial divide in America. Celebrating Black history is still needed. Teaching black history as a part of mainstream American history is what is key to making positive change happen! Curriculum that includes the holistic cultural perspective of all non-European cultures is important. Experience and expose through teaching Black history gives them many options towards success they may not know exist. The constant depiction of the Black race as violent, thugs and criminals also impacts the school to prison pipeline. Many advocates describe the school to prison pipeline as a way to continue the enslavement of Blacks. Restorative justice best practices in schools helps to build relationships with law enforcement and youth. It positively reinforces rules and teaches youth how to become model citizens. Teaching Black history helps to alleviate the racial history and interaction of police officers and black youth.