Why Black History Month?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

President’s Address:

Black History Month should not have to exist.

Indeed, the necessity for Black History Month comes out of the reality of a racist North American past and present. Even in today’s “multicultural” society, the achievements and struggles of black Canadians has gone unacknowledged.

It is for this reason that the Black Students’ Association continues to celebrate the triumphs of our very own. We would like you all to join us in celebrating past, present and future achievements of the black community.

Every school year, the Black Students’ Association seeks to provide a space, firstly, for black students at Western to discuss and share their daily racialized experiences, and secondly, for the general public to become educated about black culture(s) and experience(s).

As we proceed through February, BSA would like all of you to keep in mind the great contributions that blacks have made, not only to the civil rights movement, but also to the development and modernization of North America.

As long as black achievement goes unacknowledged and unappreciated in the mainstream, BSA will be committed to bringing these accomplishments to light. Indeed, even on university campuses, among the so-called “enlightened class,” there is a resistance to the celebration of the black experience, which BSA consistently must justify. And justify it, we will.

While Black History Month was established in 1976 by Afro-Americans for the Study of Afro-American Life and History to celebrate blackness, I argue that Black History Month should do the work of encouraging mainstream discourse to be more inclusive of the experiences of racialized others.

Black History Month should be temporary. I would like, at some point in the future, for the pigeonholing (into less than 30 days) of the vast accomplishments of black people, to not exist. I would like these accomplishments to be taught at every level of education, in every class about general world history, in every humanities course. I would like to see the analysis of race (as well as gender, class and heterosexism) in every area of society.

Certainly, one of the core goals of the Black Students’ Association, and in turn, Black History Month, is for black people to be made visible and recognizable in all aspects of society and curriculum.

As the current president of the Black Students’ Association, I am honoured to be a part of this project in the history of black students at Western.

While February is and continues to be a crucial time to celebrate all that the black race has done, it is also a constant reminder of how much more we need to and can achieve. I encourage you all to enjoy the festivities this month.

In Solidarity,

Rita Nketiah
President,
Black Students’ Association 2007-08

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