Brown: What history month?


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So, I forgot it has been Black History Month. It would be easy to blame the Oscars, the Super Bowl, the Grammys, or even Valentine’s Day for stealing my attention away from the one month out of the year honoring the history of my people. That would be a lie, though.

I couldn’t tell you anything about these pop-culture milestones other than that Kanye West didn’t listen to Beck’s album, and Marshawn Lynch gives great interviews. I was single on Valentine’s Day as always, and it’s not like this month is dedicated to the history of all the couples brutally exploited in a slave trade and systematically discriminated against for being in love.

What’s worse, I spent more days this month thinking about a holiday tracing back to a religion I don’t believe in and fueled by a capitalist ideology I don’t support it anymore than I did the month created solely for people who look like me.

I guess I’m just a bad black person. I would offer up the caveats that I was named after Marcus Garvey, I’ve read The Autobiography of Malcolm X backwards and forward, and I didn’t wait until Martin Luther King Jr. Day to watch Selma. I could do this, but you would be more convinced than I am. I didn’t get to pick my name, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was required reading, and the only reason I saw Selma was because a friend had a bootleg copy on a very long bus ride back from New York. Furthermore, because I’m in the mood to make confessions, I haven’t watched Alex Haley’s “Roots” all the way through. I know, I’m the worst black person ever.

So what I should I do in these last two days to compensate for my lack of adherence? Should I wallow in the perpetual identity crisis that is being black in America and the irony that, given the racial demographics of this school, this column will more than likely be read by more white people than black?

The danger in that course of action is that I don’t think I’ll find any answers. What does it mean that I can a write something like this and have it published for public consumption? What does it mean that I’m in an institution of higher learning writing for a nationally respected student newspaper?  What does it mean that I can actually write a column and teach someone to read it if I wanted?

I’m not expecting to stumble upon any profound answers because it’s Black History Month. I don’t believe in culturally mandated epiphanies, nor do I believe in being told how to make peace with my identity. I don’t want to treat my heritage like a transient New Year’s resolution.

If anything, I should take these two days to reflect on what it really means to be black and what it means to me before I make any grandiose promises to myself. I should reflect on what it meant to my parents, my grandparents, and their grandparents. I should take it one step further and try to keep thinking about these things on March 1. In fact why stop there? There are 11 more months in the year. Maybe if I can keep this reflection thing going this time next year, I’ll have a better memory, a couple more answers, and fewer questions.

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