Black History 365
Today marks the last official day of Black History month for 2021. We have seen a bevy of attempts to highlight the month, but I believe our recognition and celebration of black history should not start and stop each year in the month of February.
If one were to engage in a true study of American history, you will see the contributions of people of color from its inception. Black history is American history, one that is intricately entwined and cannot be segmented out into the shortest month of the year. It must be celebrated 365 days a year, not 28 days during the second month of the year or 29 days on leap years.
I watched many good intentioned individuals, organizations, businesses, and others make statements about the importance of celebrating Black History month. I can appreciate the sentiment of most, but I found many to be insincere. For example, on Feb 7, I was joined by nearly a hundred million people around the world in watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl LV. Prior to the start of the game, there was a segment which I will call their “salute to Black History”. I watched it in awe as the piece was well done, and it was obvious that the NFL had invested a large amount of capital into its production. I must admit that I was caught up in the moment, but my appreciation was tempered when learning that no black candidates were hired for open head coaching roles in the NFL. Teams with open slots even passed on Eric Bieniemy, assistant coach to Andy Reid and last year’s Super Bowl Champs, the Chiefs. When the NFL was called out on their exclusion of black head coach candidates being hired, I heard statements such as “we need to do better” and “next time”. Hey, wait a second…this is what you said the last time you were called out on this and the time before that. Why are we willing to allow them off the hook when it comes to doing better and accept the lip service that is always offered to us – which we willingly embrace. The NFL players are diverse – with most players being black, yet it has no black owners. Per Forbes, a woman of South Korean descent co-owns the Buffalo Bills and a Pakistani-born American owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. Attempts by blacks to own an NFL team through the years have failed. In 2018, NBA great Labron James commented on the “slave mentality” of owners towards players, yet in 2021, nothing has changed when it comes to ownership. The most hurtful act of all by the NFL has been the “blackballing” of Colin Kaepernick – a young man who could have been any of our sons – barred from his profession by the league and the very owners who insist on keeping their private club “private” – because he had the audacity to take a stand, or in Colin’s case, a knee – on issues that impact us all in one form or another.
I watched the national news today and saw references to the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association being under fire for their lack of diversity and inclusion (there is not a single black member in their association). They failed, yet again, to include black films and shows in their best film category such as the Spike Lee directed film Da5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas and the Black Madonna, or One Night in Miami directed by Regina King. After being called out, they released a press statement that they “will do better next time”. Again, they continue to put that sucker into our mouths to placate us. We must be willing to throw that candy in the sand and say no more. Tonight, instead of the Golden Globes, I will be happily watching shows that include people who look like me.
There have been some who have stepped forward to say Black History is American history, such as actor Morgan Freeman, and should be celebrated each day, but not enough. I am stepping forward to say that I will be celebrating black history every day and will use SPOTLIGHT South Cobb News at every opportunity to illuminate our history as well as challenge the status quo. I invite you to join me.
As we celebrate America’s history – which includes Black History, we must continue to press for diversity, inclusion, and representation at every level and ensure that it is honored every day. From the classrooms to the board rooms – we must celebrate the history of our country and how blacks are intertwined in it 365 days of the year and 366 on leap years.
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Shelia Edwards, Publisher