The influence of African-Americans

The influence of African-Americans

Many, if not all, Americans know who George Washington was. But how many know of George Washington Carver?

  February is Black History Month, and in recent years there has been much debate about its celebration, its implications, and its value.

  Last month, this annual debate materialized among Granite Bay students, who were asked about their opinions on the celebration of this month.

  Some people believe in the notion that Black History Month is racist and exclusive because there is no “White History Month.” Similarly, many believe there should be an “All Lives Matter” movement.

  According to ThinkProgress, black male teens are 21 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than their white counterparts.

  Like the Black Lives Matter movement, Black History Month focuses on a specific race because they warrant that attention and they need to be targeted if we want to create a more equitable society.

  In schools, black history is still not taught as extensively as white history which is why many believe that celebrating Black History Month is an absolute necessity.

  “African American history and culture is not something that is really talked about even during this time of year,” junior Kayla Hess said. “I have to educate myself through books, news, and other media sources outside of school if I really want to know about (my) roots.”

  Many students have come to view black history education in our schools as too reductive and simplistic.

  “Other than the famously historic events and people such as Harriet Tubman and (Martin Luther King), black history is not talked about frequently and is not really looked at with depth and moral analyzation,” Hess said.

  Black History Month prompts schools to actively try and integrate black history into american history.

  While many acknowledge the necessity of Black History Month, they also believe that marginalizing it to one month is wrong.

  “I feel that it is not right that people are acknowledging black history one month out of twelve and the shortest month at that,” GB alumnus Azra Carrington said. “People should make an effort to recognize black history anytime and not just February.”

  Nevertheless, many have come to appreciate Black History Month because it encourages everyone to reflect upon all of American history, good and bad.

  “This month demands our country to take a step back and look at all of the ugly racism and discrimination of our nation’s past but also at the beauty of the love and strength that overcame it,” Hess said. “It ensures that we will not resurrect the sins of our past.”  

  Black History Month not only forces Americans to confront their past, but it also inspires them to hope for a better future.

  “(It) recognizes the dark past of our country and gives light to the ongoing prejudice of today,” Hess said. “Black history month calls this nation to a higher standard every year to always do better, to love those who may be different.”

  It is quite unfortunate that racism is still very prominent today in America. When asked, many racial minorities at Granite Bay say that they have been victims of negative racial stereotypes.  

  “Being the only African American in  each class is horrible, and the school is so stereotypical about African Americans,” Jeremiah Usher said. “They expect us to be ghetto, loud and to cheat or lie or steal.”

  These stereotypes reflect how many perceive African Americans and their culture.  

  Black History Month can work to help rid not just the Granite Bay community, but also the whole of the country, of these unfair stereotypes and see the African American community in a new light.

  Along with educating others about black history, this month celebrates the accomplishments of prominent black individuals and empowers the African American youth to take individual responsibility for their future.

  “In my opinion, black history month gives the African american community a chance to reminisce on their progress (that is the result of) the path paved by … greats like Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson,” Ayo-Ajibola said. “It’s easy to see that many feel a personal responsibility to continue to paint the African American community as a peaceful and forward thinking group.”

 This month enables influentiable African American teenagers and children to take pride in their history and culture.

  “(Black History Month) uplifts those of African American heritage who have broken down the deceptive and misconceived stereotypes and it proves that we are above the labels that society puts on us,” Hess said.

  Black History month meant a lot to Hess growing up because it gave her black role models that she could look up to and be proud of.

  “Growing up, Beyoncé has always been my role model as a strong and talented black woman,” Hess said. “She allowed me to see that I too can rise above the standard set before me, (and) that I can have an impact on others in and outside of the black community.”  

  Beyonce also inspired Hess to shamelessly carry hot sauce in her bag.

  Contrary to what many think, Black History Month is just as much for white people as it is for black people.          

  “I think that BHM should be celebrated and I don’t think that it is racists towards white people,” junior Matthew Grundy said. “As the saying goes, every other month is White History Month. I think that African Americans really do need this month in order to highlight their accomplishments and facilitate intercultural understanding between races.”

  “This month definitely did make me more aware of both the hardships faced by African Americans as well as their amazing accomplishments,” freshman Blake Wittwer. “I remember when I was younger, the NBA basketball players would all wear black history t-shirts during this month and that definitely had an impact on me growing up.”

  It is quite evident that Black History Month encourages  all to, in the words of Martin Luther King, “live together as brothers.”

  

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