There is more to do

Black History Month is a reminder that the fight against racism is not over

Perris Larson, Staff Writer

Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

For far too long, achievements made by black people have been neglected. For one month their achievements are highlighted in headlines. Officially recognized in 1976 by President Ford, Black History Month became a month dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of black people in the United States. Black people have made incredible impacts on American history, but even now the acknowledgment of their existence is inadequate in many cases.

The roots of Black History Month began in 1926 as Negro History Week; which was founded by historian Carter G. Woodson. Also known as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson created the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). “He believed that black history was too important to America and the world to be crammed into a limited time frame.”

Acknowledging there has been wrong done is the first step toward moving forward in a direction toward equality; that is the purpose of Black History Month. It’s a good thing that the month sparks conversation and makes headlines, but the fight against racism goes further than a month. Every day, someone is facing the struggle of systemic racism; whether it is the wealth gap between white and black, or a white person viewing a person of color as less of a human being, there will always be an issue.

Black households are in greater need of personal savings than their white counterparts. Black people are still more likely to experience negative income shocks but are less likely to have access to emergency savings.  Because of this, Black people are more likely to fall behind on their bills and go into debt during difficult times. Right now, life is difficult for everyone, but Black people and other racial minority groups are more at a disadvantage.

Even though the United States Constitution preaches equality for all, equality wasn’t shown to everyone. When the Constitution was first written in 1787,  the idea of equality didn’t include people of color; equality only applied to white men.

People still protest that black lives matter, people still fight against discrimination and police brutality toward black people. The fight against systemic racism has always been around, but the anger caused by racism was seen by all in the summer of 2020 after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. To protest these unjust killings by police, and many more, people took to the streets to protest police brutality. 

“We must change.  It will take time.  But I firmly believe the Nation is ready to make racial justice and equity part of what we do today, tomorrow, and every day.  I urge my fellow Americans to honor the history made by Black Americans and to continue the good and necessary work to perfect our Union for every American,” said President Joe Biden in a White House Briefing on February 3 to acknowledge Black History Month.

During the month of February, everywhere you look there is some kind of reminder of Black History Month. From filters on Snapchat to posters on bulletin boards; something is always there to remind you. But there’s more to Black History Month than posting it on social media. If you are going to post about black history just for a month, then the purpose of Black History Month has truly been ignored.

It’s not like a holiday where it’s a part of your daily life for a month, and don’t think about it for another year. The purpose of Black History Month is to remind people how much black people impact our history; to remind us that people fight for equality, and die for it. Racism is an issue that can never be downplayed.

However, if people truly want to help fight systemic racism, it’s going to take a lot more than knowing racism is bad. It’s not rocket science that more action is needed. Educate children on racism, peacefully protest, donate to organizations that help black communities; listen and contribute to conversations about race, and above all, check your privilege.

Anyone who isn’t a person of color will never understand the pain that is caused by systemic racism; they can show empathy, but it takes more than empathy to fix a corrupt system.

Black History Month will always be a time of celebrating and remembering, but remembering can’t end on March 1. The only way the fight against systemic racism can continue is if we acknowledge what people did in the past, and continue to take necessary action so we can fight for a brighter future.