Kenneth L. Hardin: Is Black History Month over yet?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

I used to really like February.  We’ve never had a beef and have always gotten along these last 57 years. When I was a little chitlin’ in elementary school, I got excited about going to Woolworth’s to buy the box of Valentine’s Day cards for my classmates.

As I got older, it was a smooth move in middle school to buy the small box of chocolate candy and a cheap piece of expensive looking jewelry to give to your girlfriend in front of everyone. In high school, the cost of February went up dramatically if you were on lockdown in a serious relationship.  Everyone in the school knew who was attached to whom at the hip because she wore your letter jacket. 

I’m appreciative for the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which celebrated the coming of spring by pairing women with men by a lottery selection.  Who knew we had a love Powerball drawing way back in the day. Big ups to Pope Gelasius I for his 5th century power move replacing that festival with St. Valentine’s Day. Ahhh, those good old February memories.

As I grew older and more conscious, began shaving more regularly, and wearing big boy clothes, February took on a whole ’nother meaning and became 28 days too long.  I despise it simply because for less than a full month, we get to endure all the newly woke Black intellectuals, fake revolutionaries and guilt-ridden whites posting memes, pictures, videos, bios and other Black influenced fare they’ve either been previously unaware of or afraid to share the rest of the year for fear of being labeled as too Black.

Since they’ll be issued a hall pass and forgiven by their owners for a few short weeks this month, they’ll try to run up their Black credit on Wikipedia and get overage charges on their Hood Card trying to prove they’re down with their people.  We’ll have to endure a month of Black people gyrating and dancing to hip hop music in commercials as if marketing folks think that’s the only way to grab our attention to buy their products.

This month, undercover racists and silently complicit white America will pretend to care about our advancements, and smile through paralyzed faces while feigning excitement about learning of the good ol’ safe standby names and events that have shaped a stolen people in this stolen land. 

For a short month they will celebrate the familiar people and things they once denied and fought against. Their recycled approved “His Story” list will include overly popularized representations of Black bravery that allowed us to drink white water and sit on white toilets next to those who despised us. You know, the ones they can’t teach in Florida schools and misguided politicians are trying to stop in other parts of this country although race theory is critically needed.

I’m tired of hearing about how we fought against hate as if that’s all there is to our history of accomplishments. What about sharing the accounts and stories of those who weren’t captured and enslaved? What about those who fought back to ensure their freedom? What about those who made small accomplishments and inventions that haven’t been deemed OK to celebrate as a first or only by white America? What about our rich history before we were kidnapped and stolen from our homeland? 

Isn’t Black history the same as American history? If this is truly one nation under God, as we have to say repeatedly in that pledge, why do we have two separate historical educational offerings? Why doesn’t Black History Month begin on Jan. 1 and last until Dec. 31? 

By the end of this month, I’m so disgusted with all the forced fake love, patronizing and pandering, I want to take a shower to wash off all that insincere feel-good excrement.  I question why those who see my humanity and make me feel like an equal on MLK day in January, appreciated for 28 days the next month, but then treat me like less than human the other 336 days of the year.    

Black History Month is supposed to be a time when this so-called colorblind America can reflect on the contributions of their darker skinned brother.  But the diseases of hate and discrimination can’t be eradicated with a 28-day dose of medicine comprised of feel-good temporary awareness of a people who’ve been ignored for so long, their contributions deemed irrelevant and nonexistent and continually marginalized.

Politicians will happily stand up and make empty acknowledgments this month so they can pick up their NAACP and MLK awards. Then they offer a wink and a nod with fingers crossed behind their back while reading the obligatory proclamation for this culturally appropriated month.

I’m passing on the silliness again this year.  Wake me up on March 1.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.