Black History Month In 2016 Takes Place In Tense Racial Media Climate

Black History Month is a celebrated annual recognition of the contributions that African Americans have made to modern society as well as the past. Their legacy and successes have been against all odds, and now that the current media climate has dug its heels into the celebrated month, some of America’s more famous media personalities have taken to the media with harsh comments for the event.

What people in today’s society recognize first and foremost about Black History Month is that the plight of the black man and woman throughout American history has been insurmountable. There is more than just a history of slavery against black people that tortured their bodies and spirits. The Emancipation Proclamation was just the first step in a long journey to find equality and statesmanship in the purported free world.

As reported by NBC News, Black History Month started as a way to honor both President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, both of whom have birthdays in February. With over ninety years of history for the annual month-long event, Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson and it still goes strong to this day.

But in the beginning, Black History Month was not actually a month long, but rather a week long. It coincided with the dates of February 12 and February 14, which were Lincoln and Douglas’ birthdays, respectively. It wasn’t until President Ford marked the occasion on the bicentennial of America in 1976 that the week-long celebration was expanded to a month, henceforth becoming known as Black History Month.

But you still just have to consider all of the events throughout history that still took place during the 90 years the celebration has been active. There were the Jim Crow laws and segregation that still oppressed the black people, which forced them into poverty and restricted their access to vital public necessities.

It should not be forgotten that even though slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, racial tension in society still existed in paramount form. There were public bathrooms, public drinking fountains, cafes, bars, lunch counters, buses, swimming pools, and lakes that were all segregated to separate the white and black populations back before the Civil Rights movement. These same locations had signs that spurted racial slurs and warnings against black folk, warning them not to attempt to use certain facilities or patronize local businesses. Many places had signs that simply said “Whites Only” or “No Coloreds Allowed.”

Nowadays, signs like that are mostly a thing of the past and racism in America is shamefully hidden like a creepy uncle in the closet. But in recent media interviews as well as political climates, racial tensions have been making controversial comebacks in the mainstream.

It was only just recently that Stacey Dash, while on a Fox News program, called for an end to Black History Month and referred to networks like BET (Black Entertainment Television) as liars for their business model.

Others on the extreme political right have also called for an end to the taboos of political correctness, making claims that the idea of having a “PC” culture goes against individual freedom and liberty.

But here’s the thing. The right to be a racist and to speak your mind about it has never been illegal. There is no law that says that you cannot be hateful in your views or speech. But there are laws that prohibit the use of racial profiling in order to solicit equal opportunity employment and housing.

The truth is, those who are fighting to abolish political correctness seem to think that their mission is to overturn some law that does not exist. What seems to actually be communicated by that rhetoric is that people want the right to use racial slurs without being judged in the court of public opinion.

So in the end, the celebration of Black History Month is exactly what the title says it is. It is not a month that distinguishes black men or women as superior to white, brown, or Asian, but rather a month to celebrate a long history of black contributions to society.

[Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Moet Hennessy]