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Bianca Pang

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The Problem With Black History Month

Posted: 04/04/2014 8:56 am

(I know I'm about a month late, but it won't matter after you're done reading this).

So I have problem with Black History Month, and the reason is this: I don't believe we should assign one month out of the year (and the shortest month, mind you) to one race.

Why?

Because although, yes, it brings awareness to the history and celebrates its triumphs, it sets them apart from the norm, reiterating this whole notion of "otherness" and generating more separation. It's saying, "Oops, there was a mess up in our history, but here, here's 28 days where everyone can focus on you." Let the staring begin.

No.

What we should do is incorporate this into our everyday knowledge, every month of the year. And not just of one race/culture, but every race and culture that has been a part of Canadian history.

The amazing thing about our country is that we're still young. Compared to other countries we're like barely-legal young. We're still losing our baby teeth, learning how to walk, working out the kinks and growing into our clothes. And from what I see, the core of what Canadian-ness is, is multiculturalism. I can find Indian, Jamaican, Chinese and Japanese food all in one food court (I could've used another example, but homegirl is hungry).

As we continue to age into the rebellious-teenager phase, I think we're allowed to give our cookie-cutter history books the finger and incorporate what and who we really are: a mumbo-jumbo of every culture and race, that embraced differences before it was cool (just look at our money. It's a friggin' rainbow), and a city of please and thank-yous.

When we get to our adult years, I want to be able to look back and say, "Remember when we used to only be able to order burgers and fries in the food court and when we designated a single month to Black history? Ha ha. "

We know Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Amelia Earhart. Teach me about Daniel Hale Williams, Lewis Howard Latimer and Patricia Bath.* (I realize none of these people are Canadian, but you know what I'm trying to get at). I want to learn about the mistakes we made as a baby-country and how we evolved and fixed them, but I can't do that if they're taken out or covered up in our photo albums. As a country, I know we're better than that.

When we're of-age, we'll be the country known to have "inclusion" tatted all over our body, and not "alienation."

* Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893

Lewis Howard Latimer invented an electric lamp and a carbon filament for light bulbs.

Patricia Bath is the founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Inventor of the Laserphaco Probe for the treatment of cataracts.

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