Black History Month Needs More Recognition

African American culture should be taught and acknowledged more in order to aid the healing of racism.

It’s not a secret that African Americans have been victims of oppression for hundreds of years. Throughout a long history of slavery, segregation and injustice they found the resilience to stand up for themselves and their equal rights, giving birth to many historical heroes, icons and symbols to start paving the pathway to a racism-free society. That history has been dedicated to the month of February and declared Black History Month, yet it still isn’t being recognized enough in today’s society and taught properly in school curriculum.

According to “The Status of Black History in U.S. Schools and Society” written by Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia LaGarrett J. King, generally only one to two lessons or eight to nine percent of total class time is devoted to Black history in U.S. history classrooms. This statistic is alarming considering black history is an integral part of American history and has had a large impact.

Some people might think that Black History Month promotes African Americans over other races and therefore is not encouraging equality between different races. However racism is still an issue and people of color in different areas are discriminated against through police brutality, high incarceration rates and unfair treatment in the justice system.

According to a poll taken by the Harvard Gazette in October 2017, 57 percent of African Americans said they were discriminated against in terms of equal pay, while 52 percent said they had heard offensive comments and/or racial slurs. To continue to counter these issues people need to come together and become informed about these issues. Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to bring more attention to the problems we are currently facing with racial equality.

There are several negative stereotypes that have been prominent in the media due to ignorance regarding the culture and history of African Americans. No, not all black men walking down the street wearing a hoodie are dangerous or people with lots of tattoos are part of a criminal gang, yet people still find themselves intimidated by them. Women that wear natural afros aren’t always trying to prove something; they just happen to love their beautiful curly hair, yet people still feel the need to judge them or even go so far as to ask questions like “Why don’t you just relax it?”

Whether people choose to believe it or not, negative stereotypes are prominent in our current culture due to a lack of education. Schools need to implement more black history into their curriculum because learning more is a step forward towards terminating racism and xenophobia with the awareness it brings to the community. It will teach people how African Americans have sacrificed and contributed tremendously to this country and inspire people to see through the stereotypes and change their attitudes regarding them.

As Nelson Mandela famously said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”