Black History Month

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Black History Month

By Juliana Lee

Racial justice continues to be pursued in this country as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum this past summer and more conversations about inequality have been conducted in society. Despite these efforts, we have only begun to fight and undermine the racism that exists in this country. Now in February, Black History Month is another opportunity to bring awareness to Black history as well as prejudice towards Black people.

Dr.Carter G.Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALAH), wanted to spotlight the achievements of Black people. Woodson chose the month of February to honor Lincoln Abraham and Fredrick Douglass who both significantly impacted Black history. Therefore, in the second week of February, when these figures’ birthdays coincided, Negro History week began in 1926 and the movement grew and gained attention nationally. Schools, towns, and cities celebrated it and the Negro History week became Black History Month thanks to the growing Civil Rights Movement in the sixties.

For each Black History Month, ASALAH sets a theme and according to the association, “[W]hen Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public.” For example, in 2010, the theme was “The History of Black Economic Empowerment.” 2021’s theme this year is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”

This year’s theme brings attention to Black people’s dysphoria and the struggle to maintain family ties during slavery, inequality, and poverty. In America’s past, Black families have been torn apart and children left stranded as their parents were sold like commodities. In today’s time, Black families must be weary as to not lose each other due to police brutality and the systematic racism that exists within the justice system. ASALAH stated that the Black family’s “representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time.”

During this year’s Black History Month, everyone should take the time to learn about more about the history and the accomplishments of African Americans because in reality, Black history is America’s history. Their narrative and the racism towards them is deep rooted in America’s government and society. From economic inequality to police brutality, to racial stereotypes and healthcare disparities, racism is evident in this country and it’s time we start to break down and tackle these injustices. Taking the steps to read online, have uncomfortable conversations, do your own research, and asking questions are great ways to start actively being aware of these issues.

Jaein Han, a junior at Hills, explains how we as students could start address racial inequalities: “I think the best thing we can do is just stay informed and try to keep learning about what’s going on in the world and how we can be helpful allies to racially oppressed groups. It’s also so important to acknowledge that you’ll never fully understand the experience of racial groups that are not your own, and especially acknowledge your privilege if you’re a white person. Honestly just listen to oppressed people and be sympathetic to their experiences.”

Below are some resources to refer to:

Black History Timeline

ASALAH’s Statement about this Year’s Theme

Smithsonian Programs

African American Pioneers in Space and Aviation

Healthcare Inequality