Posts Tagged ‘black’

I know I am not alone on this subject. To me, what allows for some of the prejudice and slant views of groups in society from others is when groups “claim” certain things as their own. Come on, nobody likes that kid on the playground that wouldn’t share his toys. With that said lets tackle Black History Month.

Black History month was started back in  the late 20’s by Carter G. Woodson, a historian. It began as “Negro History Week” and soon became “Black History Month”. The month of February was chosen because Abraham Lincoln(Feb 12th), our 16th president, and Frederick Douglass(Feb 14th), an abolitionist amoung other things. The purpose for Black History Month was to explore the history of blacks in society because Woodson and others alike saw that blacks were misrepresented, overlooked, and neglected as a functioning part of society. Blacks were often seen as slaves with descendants on the low end of the social scale according to history books, so Black History Month was seen to combat these views and show that blacks had more contributions to society.

I can see the importance of Black History Month during those times of extreme social stratification. I almost seems necessary to show the world that looks down upon you that you  have and have contributed more to society. Times have also changed and I don’t see the importance of Black History Month anymore. I can see the people running over the hills with pitch forks and burning stakes looking for me so let me explain a little.

First, calling it “Black” history month is a politically incorrect phrase. Remember, Black is terms of race and not ethnicity, so shouldn’t Black history month include Jaimaicans, Haitians, Barbadians, Africans, ect? My point is when you say “Black” let us not only mean “Non Hispanic African Americans”

Second, I can only say off of my experiences in the schools I attended, Black History month wasn’t really taught or shown to us. You would only see a couple of the same faces highlighted every year such as Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and Malcom X to name a few. We all know who Martin Luther King Jr. is and what he preached but I don’t know many people my age who can interpret his dream and tell me what it means to them. How many young people know what Malcome X stood for? The famous faces are highlighted but not taught.

Third, many people say Black History should be taught 365 days a year. So why celebrate a month? Just intigrate learning Black History into social subjects, which to my knowledge is done anyway.

My point is part of the problem with ethnicity prejudices in America is groups of people claiming or calling something their own. Though it may seem as if it’s a celebration of heritage, which I don’t deny that it is, it creates major separation in the American society. So my answer is create a “Cultural History Month” or “American History Month”. Let us celebrate all the great cultures and ethnicities that defines the United States! Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, German, Irish, African, Cuban, Japanese, Haitian, Indian, Brazilian, Native American, Mexican, Polish, ECT, and what ever ethnicities you can think of. Throw all of them in and embrace the history of all the people that make America the great country that it is.

One of my favorite socials topics of discussion is the subject of “race”. To me, race had only benefited a select few people who tried to sort out the world from a biological perspective. Everyone one else, including myself, should drop it and walk away. Most people don’t even know what race is. Do you really? Don’t second guess your thoughts now because I’m going to tell you exactly what race is. Race is a socially constructed category made up of people who share biologically transmitted traits that people of society consider important. Most of you are saying “duh”, so I’ll ask my next question. What is ethnicity? Here’s a clue, its not race.

In the nineteenth century biologists tried to “organize” the world’s diversity by constructing three distinct racial types. People with light skin were and fine hair were called Caucasoid, people with dark skin and coarse hair were called Negroid, and people with yellow or brown skin with distinctive eyelids were called Mongoloid. Categorizing can be damaging and harmful. Simply because there are no “pure” people in any society. Within the categories there are even ranges. For example a Caucasoid could range from very light, such as in Poland, to very dark, such as southern India. Same goes for Negroids and Mongoloids.

To answer “What is ethnicity?”, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. My religion, my cultural celebrations, my common ancestors, my language define my ethnicity. The great thing about the United States is that we are a multiethnical society. Our cultures mix and it creates an array of colorful pictures for everyone to learn from and grow together. I personally have many ethnicities in terms of distinct common ancestors, language, and cultural traditions. But I’m considered one race because of my physical  appearance that is important to society. This is why, to me, race is stupid. Over generations here in America, the genetic traits of other races have mixed in people making a big gray area. Most of us genetically classify with multiple races. So the real question is in the last part of the definition of race, the classification of physical traits that are important to society. Race is here because we put it here. It’s like Santa, if you don’t believe in him, he doesn’t exist. Though you will hear many people say race isn’t important (and it is becoming less meaningful in American society) people are still sensitive to people’s racial background. The main reason society makes race important is because it creates a hierarchy. We then classify races to be inherently “better” than another. Trust me when I tell you, there is no scientific evidence linking genetics to races being better than another.

We construct the reality of race and ethnicity. Often individuals will play up or play down cultural traits to fit in or stand out in society. I think most of us have fallen victim to that at some point or another. Martin Luther King Jr said it the best when he said to judge not by skin color, but by the content of character. The truth is we all belong to the same species no matter what color you are. I believe we will one day get to a point where race wont matter and we can all enjoy the “American” culture.

The Beef with Labels

Posted: February 10, 2009 in Social Talk
Tags: , , ,

I like to talk about things often seen but not discussed too often. Social inequality in all forms is a big one for me. Maybe it’s because I am a minority myself but I feel that until we have social equality, we cannot be an effective society. It takes lots of unconventional and challenging thinking for people to simply understand other perceptions even if they don’t agree with them. I present my thoughts and views and hopefully with your thoughts, we can achieve common ground for prosperity.

I want to talk about the titles we give people of different backgrounds. I’m talking about the whole “black and white” thing. I am of African and Hispanic decent and it’s common for me to be recognized by the label “Black”. Though I’m only 22, I’ve often heard people speak of Blacks often complaining of what they are called and the name changes every 20 years. From negro to Afro-American, there has been many names over the years but there I feel there is a reason for it always changing: all the names have a stereotypical underlining and it creates separation.

Of course “Afro-American” is absurd in stereotyping a hairstyle besides trying to put a hip swing on “African”. “Negro” is just a half step away from the N-word so lets throw that out. To be honest I think (though its been rejected also) “colored” makes the most sense of all the names. “African-American”, to me, only applies to people who just immigrated from Africa to the US. They deserve the title once they gain citizenship. “Black” is just the new take on “colored”. How people want to be referred to as Black and not colored is beyond me. Black is usually associated with “bad” and “evil” in media, literature, and media, but by today’s standards, it also means urban.

I don’t know who blurred the line between “Black” (as in a specific American) and “Urban” (as in the hip hop culture) but they did a good job at convincing everyone else it means the same thing. I often hear people say to others of a different ethnicity “You’re trying to be Black” or “You’re not Black enough”. I think what people mean to say is urban but I understand it’s easier to just say Black instead of thinking about the connotations of your words and choosing them a little better. What happens as a result is your usual stereotypes because now there is no distinction between the Black culture and Hip Hop. I’m not saying that the Hip Hop revolution isn’t part of the Black community, but it’s not the only thing that makes it up.

So what works: Is it easy to just call every person of color “Black”, or just call everyone American, or how about “Nothing at all”? Last time I checked, I am American just as much as the next person regardless of their background. I can personally say I’ve heard accounts from friends of people from other countries referring to Americans as “Americans” because that’s how they refer to each other by the society they live in, no matter what color their skin happens to be. Why is it hard for us to not label each other? Far too often do I see “groups” of people separate from each other. It’s saddening that we appear to be the most diverse country to other nations, but when you really take a look we’re just a bunch of separate groups. Maybe the first step to a more diverse American society is to stop the group labeling. I don’t want to come off as if we aren’t a diverse society making great strides to equality. We have come a very very very very long way but the journey is far from finished.

No matter what “American” you are we are all American none the less. If you are like me and you were born here, grew up here, speak the native tongue, and live by  the American norms then you are American just like me. We all have more in common than we think. What do you think? Does anyone of any other ethnicity see or have these problems? I would love to hear what you have to say.