Edited by Azizi Powell
This post showcases a video of a group of African American
children responding to the idea that African American actress Stacey Dash proposed to cancel Black history month. A trancript of that video and selected comments from that video's discussion thread are also included in this post.
As background, I've also included some information about Black history month (in the United States) as well as an excerpt of an article about African American actress/television commentator Stacey Dash's clarifying comments about her position about Black history month. Two comments from that article's discussion thread are also included in this post along with further background information about references in those comments.
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and sociological purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to the children who are featured in this video and thanks to all those were associated with the production of this video. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of this video on YouTube.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT BLACK HISTORY MONTH
National African American History Month in February celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation's history.
National African American History Month had its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (“ASALH”). Through this organization Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Dr. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans....
For more information about Black history month in the United States, click http://www.ibtimes.com/black-history-month-2016-15-interesting-facts-about-famous-african-americans-february-2284855. That article purports to list "15 bits of information you should know about Black History Month".
Most overviews of Black history month (in the United States) including that ibtimes.com article (whose link is given immediately above) focus on learning about the contributions of a few specific historical and contemporary African Americans such as George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Martin Luther King, Jr. However, some proponents of African American history month (Black history month) place the same or more emphasis on the second part of the stated purpose for that month - "to deepen our understanding of our nation's history". Furthermore, a number of those proponents of Black history month (myself included) believe that "African American history doesn't begin with slavery" [to quote an often used statement that is echoed at 0.33 in the video embedded below].
In my opinion, the definition and purpose of Black history month has been expanded from its original "contribution" focus to include the presentation and study of past and current issues and conditions that are consequences of this nation's history. An example of that way of considering Black history month is found in http://www.refinery29.com/2016/02/102541/black-history-month-civil-rights-issues. Here's a quote from that article:
"It’s an old cliché, but it's still true: Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. That’s why we have events like Black History Month: to acknowledge the ugliest parts of America's past and try to incorporate them into our nation's sense of self.
For many young people, Black History Month is mostly focused on the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s and '60s and the victories won by that generation. But as we pointed out on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it’s not enough to cheer for the wins without also acknowledging that the struggle remains. Many of the issues that our parents and grandparents fought for are still unresolved. Some have taken new shapes.
That article lists ”six lingering problems that we'll probably still be talking about for years to come.
[problems with and limited access to] Public Health & Community Resources
Income & Wealth Inequality
Violence & Policing
And that article ends with these sentences:
“History is not only about looking back, after all. What changes we work for today will be history next year. Whether they will be worth celebrating is up to us.”
THE UNDERLYING PURPOSE OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
I believe that the underlying purpose of Black history month is to help Black children, youth, and adults develop and reinforce a positive, healthy sense of self esteem and group esteem which is a integral part of self-esteem. Positive self esteem/group esteem is often difficult for Black people (and other People of Color) to achieve and maintain given this nation's institutional racism and its consequences, including largely Eurocentric (White centered) curriculums.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-black-gay-origins-of-take-seat.html for another recent comment [in that post's comment section] that I wrote on Black history month.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: EXCERPT OF ARTICLE ABOUT STACEY DASH'S COMMENTS ABOUT BLACK HISTORY MONTH
"After receiving a ton of criticism, Stacey Dash is explaining her comments about getting rid of Black History Month.
The Clueless* actress took to her blog to explain the controversial remarks, stating that she no longer wants to be categorized for anything other than being American.
"I'm not saying we as black people deserve LESS respect. I'm saying we deserve MORE," Dash wrote. "Black History should be a part of social studies and history curriculum EVERYDAY OF EVERY MONTH OF EVERY YEAR."
She added, "Black history IS American history. We are not a category or a special interest group. We are Americans."
She then argued that it's not fair to limit the work done by people like Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama and Frederick Douglass into just one month.
"Our accomplishments cannot be limited to 28 days," she continues. "Do not listen to liberals who try to limit you, to put you into a box, to tell you that you MUST believe one way or another, that you cannot think for yourselves, and that the government can ‘give' you a 'special month.'"
Rather she encourages her readers to stop "settling for breadcrumbs" and instead "eat of the wonderful, rich food this nation offers."...
*The word "clueless" in that article probably has the double meaning of referring to the title of the film Clueless and its spin off television series and a play on the meaning of the word "clueless" - "not having knowledge about something : unable to understand something" [merriam-webster definition]
Here are two comments from that eonline.com article:
ddale20, Mon Feb 01 2016
"Morgan Freeman said the same things. Does that make him ignorant. She has a point that black history shouldn't be a separate part of American history. That's idiotic. We can't let liberals 'white wash' America. We don't deserve a month. We deserve to be mentioned in the entire year and history of the country. We've been here since the inception of America and helped build this nation. We should not be relegated to a month."
African American actor Morgan Freeman said Black history month was ridiculous because we are all Americans. http://www.ibtimes.com/black-history-month-2016-15-interesting-facts-about-famous-african-americans-february-2284855
Several commenters wrote that Stacey Dash said the above comments as damage control because of all the criticism she was getting about her initial comment that there shouldn't be a Black history month.
Coaltiger, Thu Jan 28 2016
"There has to be a black history because there is a white history month it's called Jan, February, March,April, May , June, July, September, October,November, and December. Schools tend to ignore the contributions of African Americans. My sons school gave him a text book that actually said all slaves were paid fair wages for their labor and most were happy!!! That's the biggest lie ever told. We had to get the book pulled."
Click http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/18/463488364/amid-controversy-scholastic-pulls-picture-book-about-washingtons-slave for an article about the Scholastic book A Birthday Cake For George Washington which is probably the book that is referenced in that comment.
SHOWCASE VIDEO: We told a group of kids that Stacey Dash was canceling Black History Month
Because of Them We Can, Published on Feb 1, 2016
TRANSCRIPT OF THAT VIDEO
Note: This video begins with a portion of a Fox News (television station) series Fox & Friends interview with African American actress/television commentator Stacey Dash about the topic of Black actors & actresses boycotting the Oscars 2016. The screen shows the words “Accusations Of Racism. Black Actors Snubbed From 2016 Oscars".
Stacey Dash was asked if she thought that there was racism in the American Academy of Motion Pictures & Science that gives these Oscar nominations and awards.]
0.01 -0.06: Stacey Dash – “I don’t think so. No. Just like there shouldn’t be a Black history month. You know, we’re Americans. Period. That’s it.
The video then shows brief clips of various Black boys and girls responding to the statement that they were given that Stacey Dash wants to cancel Black history month.*
0.07 - “What?”
0.08 - "Excuse me?"
0.09 - [shaking head] “Un hun”.
0.10 – [laughs] "What did she just say?"
0.12 - [rolls eyes] "Oh my gosh."
0.13 – "Is that even legal?"
0.14 –[girl holds out both arms while shrugging and smiling, but doesn’t say anything]
0.15 - [boy hits his forehead with one the palm of one hand- in exasperation [?] and says "Ugh!"
0. 16 - "That don’t make any sense."
0.18 - [girl standing with hands on both hips says] “Does Carter G. Woodson know about this?"
0.21 - [boy leans back and forth with arms outstretched for emphasis] - “Black history month is our turn”
0.24 - "to acknowledge our strength,"
0.25 - "our accomplishments"
0.27 - "and our contributions,"
0.28 - "and our beauty."
0.29 - [Black boy shown laughing] (at the fact that the other boy complimented himself?)
0.30 - "It forces us to talk about"
0.32 - "our amazing history"
0.33 - "and it didn’t begin with slavery."
0.37 - "No negativity, no stereotypes",
0.39 - "All excellence"
0.40 - "because that’s who and what we are."
0.44 - "We’re not cancelling anything."
0.46 - "So you have to rock with us for 29 days" [Boy winks after saying that.]
0.49 - "It’s a celebration."
0.50 – "It’s black history month." [Boy swaggers off the screen.]
Transcript by Azizi Powell from the video. Additions and corrections are welcome.
A number of commenters in this video's discussion thread criticized the video for being scripted and rehearsed. However, the mother of one of the children in this video denied that the video was scripted.
I think the wording of the statement "It forces us to talk about our amazing history" is unfortunate. I think what whoever wrote that statement meant was that Black history wouldn't be studied in the United States even to the extent that it is now if it were not for the fact that the curriculum mandates that teachers cover that subject (even in the "famous Black people" way that they usually do) during the month of February.
Here are some selected comments from this video's discussion thread that focus on the idea of Black history month (in the United States.) I recognize that other compilations of these online comments would probably be different than the one that I'm compiling and sharing.
These comments are given in chronological order with the oldest comments given first. However, these comments may not be in consecutive order. I've assigned numbers to these comments for referencing purposes only.
As is the case with a number of YouTube comment threads, a number of comments in this thread (but not in these examples) contain profanity.
February 2, 2016
"Black history month is BS, people of all races should be proud of their history all year not just when its made into an event."
2. Jonathan Loganberry
"+prealpha2 Yes, everyone should just be proud to be american and stop coddling criminal behavior because "white people are evil"
3. Aquarius Anarchy
"Black History Month and things of that nature only further the fragmentation of mankind. The ruling elite find it to their advantage though...
Divide and conquer.
You are not the extension of a group; you are a complex individual that transcends race, nationality. and creed."
4. Jason Simmons
"Awesome video.... happy Black History Month!!! Sorry some of yall are salty (when your ancestors have been in slavery, hung from trees, denied the right to vote, forced to sit in the back of the bus oh and considered 3/5 of an human being... then get back at me and complain ;)"
"+Jason Simmons Literally every race has been slaves throughout history."
6. Jonathan Loganberry 3
"+Jason Simmons What about Jewish people? what about chinese people ? what about white indentured slaves? what about whites fighting to the death with their own brothers in the civil war? get some historical context and realize everyones ancestor had a hard time in some way or another, and then get back at me. You were never a slave... this is fact. Being poor doesnt mean you dont understand the difference between right and wrong. So poverty is not why you guys commit more crime... glorifying thugs is why you guys commit more crimes and the more you guys by into this "we are not just american and black people need to keep it real" you guys will remain a segmented group of society and "disenfranchised" . This is now completely your own choice at this point in time."
7. Jason Simmons 3 days ago
"+prealpha2 how bout slavery in the last 200 years? Don't forget the rest of the struggle..... ( you should read about it) ;)"
8. Jason Simmons
"+Jonathan Loganberry Why do we learn about the Holocaust? Im not Jewish.. should I care? The fact is I DO care.. and Im not Jewish. The fact is that taught in school. All black history does is highlight .. well Black History. As for the other races... I would love to learn more. I didn't know much about Chinese slaves. To be honest I would ...if brought into light. I think my point has been made."
9. Pammela Newton [February 3, 2016]
"+Jason Simmons their are more slaves on earth RIGHT NOW than their ever were in American history... But lets boohoo about the past... You know whats strange, out of all the cultures that have been enslaved over time blacks seem to be the only ones still complaining about it..."
10. Jason Simmons [February 3, 2016]
"+Pammela Newton I didn't know other races were denied the right to vote in ... get this... THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Please tell me who? All this "every race thing" is interesting except we are talking about the US and its history"
"+High Voice Royce Ok my computer was able to get the thread back for some reason. Something is wrong with Youtube. Anyways, I really can't see your point as to why we shouldn't include or recognize others contributions to America. It is like speaking a foreign language to me because since the time I was born, we have always celebrated the achievements of others.
White people celebrate everyday their history and accomplishments in America. In fact, I am black by the way, and all I have ever learned about was white people's histories and accomplishments since I was 5 years old. The first thing we learned as children is to pledge allegiance to America and celebrate the accomplishments of George Washington. In the public schools from grade school to high school all we learned about were Greek civilization, Rome Civilization, British Civilization (All white people by the way and no black people).
Black people have no choice in this country in regards to accepting white history. We have to accept it regardless if we agree or have any problems with it. Let's just say we were conditioned to accept white people history or we were forced. At least we are not forcing Black History Month on to white people."
High Voice Royce
12. "+jesusneverexisted300 I see your point and agree whole heartily about white history. Remember that history is written by the victor so it makes sense that most of the worlds history represents those who were in command. I do recognize the importance of displaying the contributing citizens from ALL walks of life. Not only blacks, but white, red, yellow, etc. American history is very young, so I understand the need to create an identity other than the "ugly" one that we know existed. America is so far behind the rest of the world in regards to identifying itself which is why there has been a creation of these recognition tools. All I am saying is it brings too much of a bad energy and racist from all walks of life including a bias and racist media. The whole point of recognition was to eliminate the racist history you had. I agree is was a great idea at the time. Unfortunately like everything it has now been used as a tool to support hidden agendas."
"For all of you that can't see the need for BHM, answer me this? Did you know that the first man killed in the Revolutionary war was a black man, Crispus Attucks? No? How about this, were you aware that if you or a loved one have received blood transfusions to save their lives that they can thank a black man by the name of Charles Drew? Did you know that the traffic light was invented by a black inventor by the name of Garret Morgan? If you didn't know these fun facts, you too need Black History Month."
14. Jonathan Loganberry
"+natgirrl Did you know the first slave owner (like people being considered property and not just indentured servants) was in fact a Black man in the colony of Virginia? his name was Anthony Johnson and he was a former indentured servant. Yes, thats right , the first actual slave owner in North America was in fact a black man. So do you guys teach that?"
"You are missing point. If you don't know even the basics of Black American History, then what the hell are you complaining about. Get to learning."
16. ToBad SoSad
"+natgirrl I would say you're missing the point. It should simply be AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH. You act as if whites go out and about seeking white only history ignoring blacks. It doesn't happen. People in general don't give a crap about any history prior to their own life, those that do enjoy history seek all history not race specific. Having someone spoon feed me history because of someones race is weak sauce. History is being rewritten and everyone has their opinion on what was once factual. Trust is lost in all aspects, learn from history for the better as not to make the same mistakes but it's time to forget the rest and start making positive history."
17. natgirrl [February 3, 2016]
"You are missing the point. All that we have been taught in school about the black contribution to this country has been slavery and the civil rights movement. There is so much that is not covered within American history. I agree with you, Black History is American History, but it is not nor has it ever been taught in our schools. What are your ideas to cover everyone's contributions in our schools?"
18. ToBad SoSad [Feburary 3, 2016]
"+natgirrl So it's a battle for the spotlight? I would doubt you could find a handful of white people that could ramble off more then 5 names of white inventors with their inventions within 5 decades of the right time line. Most people just don't have an interest.
These great people in history of any race did the things they did to improve humanity and that is historical. It would be a shame to ignore their contribution to humankind by limiting it to an accomplishment of their skin color."
19. natgirrl [February 4, 2016]
"Our schools have failed us. Be mad at the system, not at Blacks that want to see their part in American history represented as well."
I find this offensive and racist why do blacks get a month but us Hispanics and Asians don't get one
21. Summer Smith [February 3, 2016]
"Um...you do have a history month
National Hispanic Heritage Month- September 15 to October 15
National Asian and Pacific Islander Month- The month of May
I can't believe you don't know your own history month lol"
22. MIKEY MELANIN MADE [February 3, 2016]
"They are kids Learning about their Culture and the struggles of African Americans! its very important"
February 4, 2016
23. Granite City Photography
"Clearly coached, blatant misrepresentation. This ad hints at the idea that black history month is time to acknowledge their beauty, heritage, history, etc... The problem with that is what about the rest of the months? I am a latino and I don't like anything that says this is when you as a group should acknowledge your exceptionality. And furthermore there would be an outcry if there was a white history month. Stacey Dash was ABSOLUTELY right."
24. Laurynas Nesakysiu
"What about white history month? Or event maybe 2 months? Since we achieved way more and we have richer history. To celebrate all wonderful things we did to the world."
25. Casey Williams [February 5, 2016]
"Irish heritage month, Lithuanian Heritage Month, Italian heritage month, ect you have them just research and see which applies to you... smh people want to pissed and moan and cry for something they already have! When I was in high school we celebrated each heritage month because it was a diverse student body in my school and I found that to be awesome. People can be proud of who they are without hate. I can be proud to be black without being anti white.. you can be proud to be white without being anti black.. it can be done it's just up to you wither you want to allow that ignorant hate in your heart or not."
February 5, 2016
26. Nathan Webber
"Every month should be black history month. Forcing black history (which by the way only means post-diaspora history according to westerners and not African history before 1600) into one month teaches black children that they are only worth one month out of the year. African history should be integrated into the school curriculum throughout the year, ending the need for "black history month". This is what Dr. King would have wanted."
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