Dr. Chika Ezeanya: Speaking of Black History Month

Posted on February 6, 2012 by


 “The caption, Black History Month, is likely to confuse the historian, out in search of authentic African history dating back millennia.  . . . In essence, Black History Month celebrations are concerned with the exposition of the achievements of African-American former slaves within the ambit of their former colonial masters. Outside the coast of the United States therefore, this interpretation and celebration of Black history can be adjudged a misnomer.  This is because Black to most people around the world means African, and African history means the story of the people who lived in the continent in times past.”     

— From “Black (or White?) History Month” by Sister Dr. Chika Ezeanya @ the highly recommended blog, ChikaforAfrica — http://chikaforafrica.wordpress.com/

(The following are exerpts, somewhat paraphrased, from the remarks of Sister Ezeanya, as she dialoged with us on HC Updates — Voices for Excellence and Success from the World African Community, on Feb. 2, 2012 @ www.blogtalkradio.com/harambeeconnection/2012/02/02/the-hc-updates–voices-from-the-world-african-community)

“Dr. Woodson was not taking a shallow view, striving merely to be equal to whites. He was looking at the uniqueness of the history of African Americans. . . . Discounting the history of the things that their fathers experienced before they found themselves in the United States would be like almost blocking out the past of these people . . . And when you are not able to remember so much of your past  . . . you believe you don’t have precedence, things you can look up to. . . . 

“It is like one who has been abused as a child — you have to really struggle to change your mind set . . . or you end up acting like an abnormal person.  You have to go back and understand your past in order to build yourself back. So you really need to go back beyond the pains of slavery . . . And this is not in any way to undermine the achievements of African Americans. I have the highest reverence and respect for what has been achieved by that community. I count myself as one of them. . . . We are talking about a people who have passed through some things that a lot of others would have passed through and perished, but they are still standing today and are making progress. . . .

“But in doing that (studying the history) you have to also recognize that these are a people having a past beyond finding themselves in the United States. And what that past will do is help them see their ancient history and see the humanity in them, because the history of the African American in the U.S. is just the history of inhumanity, and it is difficult to get humanity out of that.

We must teach the children!!!

“But when you take your mind back to the humanity of these people, and take your mind back to the culture, and take you mind back to the knowledge that they had, take your mind back to the pride that they had, and their achievements, before you start talking about inhumanity, it brings back the fact that these were people who lived as human beings, who loved and were loved. . . .

“There is a tendency for depression to arise when all you read about is struggle and struggle — against white oppression, domination and hatred – hatred for nothing other than the color of your skin and you just might find yourself doubting your equality with other people. . . . But when there is a lot of emphasis placed on your achievements before you were forcibly taken away from your fathers’ land, where you were very comfortable and happy and had knowledge and access to so many things, it helps, it builds. It is a knowledge that builds, not a knowledge that depresses or tears down.  So that is one of the reasons why African history must be emphasized during Black History Month as well and not just African American history, in terms of Africans in the United States.”

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.
                                                           — Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”