All Voices Matter: Black History Month


Prachurjya Shreya

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

Aviance Pritchett, Staff Reporter

For me, my relationship with Black History Month is complicated. The importance of this concept, along with the civil rights movement in general and American slavery, has been drilled into me since my childhood; despite me knowing its’ significance, my elders continue to say that me and my generation need to know, because we don’t know enough according to them. 

It’s not like I’m saying that I don’t care about Black History Month, but rather I’m indifferent, but even then that word isn’t enough to really articulate how I really feel. If you were to ask what Black History Month to me when I was fourteen, I’d be able to give you a detailed answer, but nowadays I don’t really have much to say. I’m proud of my culture and the impact it has had on the world today, but that somehow does little to move me when I still have to witness and face discrimination for the color of my skin, regardless of what month it is.

What’s even worse is that over the years, companies have been trying their hand at performative awareness or activism. This year, Google released an ad of their most searched for Black History Month, which is nice and all until you find out that only 3.3 percent of its workforce is black and only 2.6 percent of its leadership roles are filled by black employees. Yes, I’m glad that they shed light on the achievements and influence of the black icons shown in their video, but with the knowledge of them employing so little black people, the initial impact that it had on you is softened quite dramatically. At least, it was for me.

I want more than just awareness. I want more than just acceptance. I want more than white guilt as a way of reparations for what has been done by their ancestors in the past. But realistically, I won’t be getting that anytime soon, much less ever, because being black in America can be described as simply as this: some people love being black, but don’t love black people. 

They love “celebrating” their love for our culture by wearing our hairstyles, tanning their skin so dark that anyone would assume that they were black and not seeing an issue with it, throwing the n-word around like its nothing, turning AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) and calling it “stan” language and somehow still using it wrong–all of this is done while simultaneously ignoring, demeaning, or lashing out at black people who have even the slightest of issues with any of it.

I guess I just want white people to truly appreciate Black History Month as much as black people do by just minding their business. Recognize the privilege they have (and yes, even if you’re a white female, or white and not cisgender, you’ve still got privilege because you’re white and therefore do not face the troubles that come from systematic racism), and be real allies by giving platforms to black people and uplifting black voices. 

We are capable of speaking and acting for ourselves, and we do not need white people to do it for us. Call me pessimistic, call me rude, call me whatever, but eventually you get a little sick of being gentle and passive. No black person is obligated to educate you on black issues. I’m not even obligated to tell you what exactly it is that I want, but here I am anyway, in hopes that there are actual allies willing to listen.