I state stats to stunt – I don’t need to front. I make black history every day, I don’t need a month.
It’s that time of year again…to remind the world that our culture and achievements are NOT seasonal. Our contributions to the fabric of this nation are too great to be confined to a measly month. More to the point, African Americans are breaking so many new barriers everyday it is almost impossible to keep up—but keep up we must. If we become too mired in the past, even for a month, we risk missing out on what is happening right before us. Make no mistake, what’s happening now wouldn’t be possible without the past which is all the more reason to celebrate the present. To quote Drake and Future, among others, “what a time to be alive!”.
Oprah became the new Madame CJ Walker, but Wendy Williams is fast becoming the new Oprah. Kanye West became the James Brown of the hip hop generation, but now Chance The Rapper is becoming the new Kanye. Al Sharpton became a modern day Malcom X but now DeRay McKesson is becoming the new Al Sharpton. Denzel Washington became the new Sidney Poitier and perhaps Donald Glover will become the new Denzel.
The point isn’t that the new generation is surpassing the older generation, it’s that our achievements are exponential and the Black Present/Future holds so much more promise to focus on than the yearly marginalization of that is Black History Month. Every iteration of our past social leaders and cultural influencers proves to be more disruptive that the next and that is what moves us forward. Forward is where we need to be going. So as we acknowledge Martin Luther King, we see that he has influenced Barack Obama and although Barack Obama is far from done, I can’t wait to meet Barack 2.0.
The awesomeness of all this is that we get to watch. Not only that but at any given time any one of us can pick up the mantle of whoever inspires us in business, sports, the arts or social activism and take it even further than they did because the barriers of entry to anything have never been lower and we have never been more inspired.
Personally, I don’t find Black History Month very useful. I’m under no illusion that we are living in some sort of post racial paradise but I’m not entirely sure we need a 28-day long elephant in the room calling attention to the fact that in the past we were marginalized so badly that we had to be given an entire month to remind the country that not only do we exist but we contribute! I say we reject how our culture is dusted off like random holiday decorations, arranged just so for a few days for desired effect, the stuffed back in the box. When Donald Glover can create and star in a Golden Globe award winning show then based off his mere utterance at said award show propel the careers of a fledgling rap group into the stratosphere of pop culture it would seem our history has and continues to serve us well. Have we “arrived”? No, not collectively. However, our best and brightest don’t have to die to be celebrated. I say we celebrate everyday as the present day for our achievements and focus on creating the future. That’s the best way to honor our past.