Adulting is hard work. It requires attention, patience, will, determination, willingness and commitment – among other things. Just taking care of the day-to-day living of work, school, family, and responsibilities such as food preparation and bill-paying can exhaust you even before you wake up. Sometimes, we get lost in the minutia.
Then, we are reminded, there are birthdays, anniversaries and funerals. Each a celebration of sorts although some make us happier than others. There are also the days that return on a regular basis, yet still surprise us by their nature, such as parent-teacher-conferences, the 45-day legislative cycle or trash pick-up.
Our lives feel busy because they are busy. We have things to do, places to go and people to see. Then someone wants to remind us to do one more thing. It’s always something. It could be that someone wants you to give that presentation that you do so well. Or someone asks (politely, of course) for you to show up at an event, at night, when you’d rather be home in your pajamas. Maybe someone wants you to drop off food at the pantry or host a pet for a few days while they find it permanent housing.
Maybe this is why it seems like so much to ask when we celebrate cultural heritage months. It’s February and that means it’s Black History Month. This is a window of time when there are speakers, events, activities and opportunities to explore Black history in the United States to honor first, its existence, and second, recognize its value as part of the American tapestry.
Some will yawn and say that the history books tell us what we need to know. Yet, we are reminded that some history books have a difficult time with African-Americans in history. For example, in 2010, the Texas Board of Education approved textbooks that articulated slavery as a tertiary cause of the Civil War, after sectionalism and state’s rights. Books published after this date by McGraw-Hill referred to slaves as “workers” and “immigrants.”
Pearson, another large-scale publisher, described slavery, indicating that while there may have been cruel slave masters, there were also kind, loving masters, going so far as to indicate that while most slaves wear beaten, there were also a few who “never felt the lash.” These conflicting images of African-American history fail to address that owning people is fundamentally an act against humanity. Failure to directly point to this truth means we are working to justify slavery, the continuous owning of people and the physical brutality against a people because of the color of their skin.
So why do I tell you this to add more to your plate? Part of adulting is owning our history in total, the parts we love and the parts we’d like to sweep under the rug. It’s about recognizing that we will need Black History Month until Black history is recognized as American history, not only in the month of February, but all year long.
To this end, I am thrilled that Weber State University is hosting Ron Stallworth, author of Black Klansman, the true story and basis for the Academy Award nominated film to campus to share his story and experience of being a 1978 Colorado Springs detective who was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. If it’s not too much to ask, I’ll encourage you to join me at Weber State University in the Shepherd Union Building on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 10:30 a.m. or 6 p.m. to learn a piece of Black History that you might not be aware of, one that is unlikely to be in the history books any time soon.
I know it’s always something, but maybe you can make a little room in your schedule for this event. Black history is American history.