The Bigger Picture in African-American History

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 6:44pm

Civil Rights March (August 28, 1963)

Civil Rights March (August 28, 1963) Buy this photo
Courtesy of Unsplash.com @historyhd

 

When learning about this country and how we’ve gotten to where we are, it seems that people tend to compartmentalize the role African-Americans have in aiding this progression. African-American history has always been deemed an appropriate subject for an elective class or a topic to be discussed solely during Black History Month. It is rarely, however, incorporated into the discussions and classes that center around the important aspects of U.S. history as a whole. This segregation of information causes us to miss out on aspects of the bigger picture - that people of all races have contributed to building this nation to be the influential power it is today. Always separating black history from U.S. history also portrays it to be less essential. 
 

The contributions of Black people aren’t just important in spaces where intersectionality and inclusion are seen as trendy. They are a needed part of any space where American culture and history is relevant. By viewing African-American history as a completely separate entity, we become less aware of the ways in which Black people have positively contributed to the culture and history of America as a whole.

 

This othering of the history of black contributions definitely contributes to the othering of present-day black potential. In the same way that black people in history are never included unless we’re talking about black history specifically, in the present day, the voices of black people aren’t usually taken seriously unless we’re talking solely about the black experience. A lot of times, people only see the input of a Black person as valuable when talking about the black experience. I definitely call the increased consideration of our thoughts on our experience progress. However, when one’s willingness to listen to a black person starts and ends with conversations on African-American history, it shows that our knowledge is only seen as valid when others literally - or physically - don’t have the means to contribute. It’s the equivalent of choosing us only when we’re the only option. If we want all races to be treated and perceived as equals, then we have to make every part of us at the same level, and that includes our history.