By Piper Blake
Web Content Contributor
February is upon us and with it brings the start of Black History Month. Throughout this month, there are campus events planned that help promote the celebration of the African-American community. As a Caucasian woman I have never participated directly in Black History Month in fear I might insult those who have a reason to celebrate. Personally, I don’t believe I was taught how to participate in a celebration I wasn’t necessarily associated with. It is hard to find my role in this month without education about past trauma and wrongdoing, or facing the fear of offending others. However, I have found that research is the best solution to understanding diversity and the viewpoint of the black community.
With all the controversial conflicts between races still occurring on the news today, there is still resentment at the forefront of today’s society. That is why our generation should be the one to make the change and bring unity between these two communities that have been divided for so long, because of past generational differences lingering today. For the African-American community, they find strength and unity in what their ancestors overcame. This is one of the main ideas celebrated by this month, but this wasn’t acknowledged by others for a long time.
However, with the Black Lives Matter movement, we are beginning to see rebellion against these preconceived ideas that these two communities must be divided. There are racial barriers being broken due to the acceptance of colored men and women into higher power positions. This is allowing for change to occur and more diversity throughout all levels of society. These achievements are meant to be celebrated during this month.
With a new generation comes new struggles. People today get offended by things that have been in place for decades. This sensitivity to national reminders of history also goes for the African-American community. Sensitivity to hard issues has complicates the already difficult racial conflict we see today, but there are ways that we can educate ourselves and be involved without being disrespectful to other people’s viewpoints.
Here, we can use Marina Martinolich‘s six ways you can immerse yourself in diverse situations. An example she uses is taking classes or attending events that put you in a position you would not usually be in. This is important because it will help you see what others go through and empathize with them.
Her article states a few of the ways you can educate yourself and promote unity, but I am in no way saying that these solutions will diminish all the problems we face in society. I hope for there to be an understanding to occur between everyone. There are things of the past we can’t fix, but time, and effort, can heal all wounds. We should be able to celebrate how far we have come while not dismissing the past.
The first step in reaching an understanding is accepting each other during this month. Both groups can be held accountable and there are ways to be inclusive and uplifting from both sides. This month should not be turned into a “us vs. them” scenario. Maybe, once this understanding is achieved some of the controversy will be diminished. Everyone can choose to play a role and join in celebration of this month’s significance. Hopefully, this will be the first step to universal understanding and uniting our society.
Here is a video that thoroughly describes diversity and how it should be made a priority on campuses. Dr. Marilyn Sanders said, “Diversity is our unfinished business.” This is an issue that will always need attention.
Featured image by Piper Blake.