Once again we are here. The start of Black History Month where we get to learn about the past and be hopeful for the future. Last year, I dedicated this blog the Latinegr@s project that, in my opinion, was a great success. Now we turn the page to a new year and the project is still intact. While I will be participating in this project, I will not do it in the same way as I did last year. I will be weighing in more using my own opinions on this month as well as highlighting things and individuals that I did not get to last year.
A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and we were speaking about how her son had to pick a black person to do a report on for Black History Month. This is not that easy of a task if you think about it. There are so many historical figures to choose from that can be quite cliché. However, the choice that her son made (mostly likely with the help of his mother) was Roberto Clemente. Of course, I am all in favor for this choice. Here you have a hero who excelled in baseball as well in his community. I have documented his legacy last year.
He was told that Roberto Clemente cannot be chosen because he is not African American. Really? How much sense does that make? Do not get me wrong, this month is all about celebrating African Americans but I was also under the impression we were celebrating being black. Skin color is something that you cannot change (although Sammy Sosa and Vybz Kartel would disagree with me on this). So my question, is Black History Month strictly about being African American?
Sure I am Latino, but the color of my skin automatically puts me in a group that other poeple consider to be Black. So, I am forced to identify with this group. My skin is very much a part of me as my culture is. So does that mean that Afro Latinos should not be recognized even a little bit? What about Caribbean people in general? Some to the darkest people I know are from the islands. Of course, if we are making it exclusively for African Americans then you are excluding Africans. Is that really the point here?
I am not disputing the validity of this month. I think it is needed, but if any one person or institution is going to put limits on such things then they need to be aware that Black is very encompassing. If it is that hard to understand then make it African American Month. However, I consider this month to be very much like Latino Heritage Month in which explores all different aspect of being Latino. Black History Month should conceivably do the same thing.
I would hate to think that the word black is strictly reserved for a certain people because the Black experience does not have such limits.