Wednesday, February 02, 2011

February is here, and you know what that means...

Time for another 28 days of guilt and self-flagellation as we observe Black History Month. I object to meaningless gestures such as Black History Month, and I'm not the only one who feels this way. Watch this classic clip from 60 Minutes as one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman, chastises a befuddled Mike Wallace as he rejects Wallace's apparent insistence that blacks should be grateful that they get their own month. Watch and learn, kids:

I don't agree with Morgan Freeman on everything concerning politics, but he and I are totally on the same sheet of music on this topic. And what he told Mike Wallace is almost exactly what I tell my students every year when I get the inevitable questions from them about why I don't do anything or teach anything about Black History Month. I tell my students that there is no "black history." I tell them that this is a United States History class, and "black history" is part of American History. Is that not enough?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


Anonymous said...

Isn't there a role for school is the education of America's kids regarding the many cultures that blend within this country? I mean born here or immigrated here our cultural roots contribute to the way we live our lives still.
As a science teacher I find that my minority students lose interest when they think that science is just for white men of middle class backgrounds, but that changes some when I can introduce minority scientist to them.
Katie in Omaha

W.R. Chandler said...

Science isn't white, black, or purple with green polka dots.

Science is science, and it benefits everyone.

You shouldn't need to be interested in a subject only if the people involved look like you.

I am fascinated by African history, yet I am white. I can't read enough about the history of Mongol Empire, yet I am of mostly European descent.

I don't buy into ethnocentric academics. It is self-indulgent, and wrong.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Last year I didn't do anything for BHM and kind of regretted it. Not because I feel any sort of guilt but because my students are so flipping ignorant of history it's really sad. So this year my honors kids are reading 'Letter From A Birmingham Jail' and then everyone else is going to be reading up on important historical figures like William Wilberforce, Dr. Condelezza Rice etc. That is a once a week thing. I may do more next year but I have not decided. The 'Letter' project is going very well so far.