It is common knowledge that the history curriculum is deliberately whitewashed and Eurocentric. The eras and figures highlighted are European and the discourse is always pro-European. Unless you study history to a higher level and elect to study the history of other nations, it is very unlikely that you will have this experience. Even then the options are very limited, and the teachers are very likely to be white. All this goes to show that Black history is always put on the back burner.
Education governs our perception and the way we relate to people. The lack of black history in the curriculum has allowed stereotypes and misconceptions to remain prevalent and makes ignorance almost excusable. We believe that black history doesn’t really exist or isn’t relevant. Ironically, the only aspect of black history that is widely taught is that which is connected to white people; i.e. slavery, segregation and colonialism. But black history is a lot more than oppression and does not start and end with slavery. There is more to black people than their relations with and subjections to white people.
To neglect to teach black history to black people is to encourage a slave mentality and promote the idea that black people do not make history. To neglect to teach black history to other races is to encourage the idea that the only notable thing black people have done is overcome slavery. We are all at a loss when black history is omitted.
Black history month is often criticised, mainly because it is dedicated to the history of only one race. The way I see it, the only issue with Black History Month is that it is confined to one month rather than integrated into the curriculum and thus everyday knowledge. It is also a great time for us to celebrate our culture and progress in a world that is constantly trying to drown us out.
The celebration of black history month is important as we learn to appreciate our past whilst also having high hopes for our future.