It took me several tries to write this because what I want to say to you does not match with what I should actually say to you, nor would it be effective. I looked you up on Facebook and researched the town you are from. Your town is 96.7% white, causing me to believe your interaction with African-Americans is little to none. Even now at Hofstra, the nonwhite population is at 38 percent. Using the label “nonwhite” in the school’s demographics statistics is probably strategic because breaking down the individual races would expose the university for the environment that it really is.
Brown v. Board of Education was your first argument for this point, using it as some sort of timeline stamp to identify breaking ground in the country. Ironically enough, Long Island is still listed as one of the most segregated suburbs in the U.S. Inclusion is not the grand prize, it should be the standard. And given the demographics that I just stated about your hometown, I can see how you could misunderstand that concept. This also makes you the most unqualified to make judgments on African-American sentiments. Yes, we are allowed at these schools – but are we welcomed?
I remember going to a party off-campus one night during the spring semester. My friend from the football team invited me to stop by. As I approached the house, a stranger gave me a longing look and said I most likely wouldn’t get in. I immediately sent a text to my friend and asked if the party was full, and it wasn’t. As I got to the door, a lacrosse player informed me I couldn’t be let in and that the party was invite-only and laughed. I let him know by name who had invited me, to which he blurted, “No, I’m good.” As I walked away, I watched two white girls enter the party without question. But thanks for Brown v. Board of Education, at least I got my degree!
I was at Hofstra when Trayvon Martin was murdered. The black organizations on campus held a vigil for him. We related, spending many nights running to Dutch Treats for some candy and juice. Who would’ve ever thought that along with being black could get us killed?
During that time someone, like you, believed that because they didn’t understand the complexity and fragility of black lives, they could comment on it. They wrote inappropriate comments across the sign we made in the Student Center. It seems that since then, every week, there’s another news story breaking about an unarmed black youth being killed by police. You mentioned the significance of social media and current events – perhaps you missed the Black Lives Matter movement.
You diminished the history of African-Americans by lazily comparing it to National Pizza Day and National Margarita Day. You threw in a Morgan Freeman interview but are out of touch with reality. Black history is being misinterpreted and eradicated at a fast pace. Textbooks used in American schools, in towns like yours, are mislabeling slavery as some sort of volunteer work. Black History Month may seem pointless to you, but there is no ancestry.com for black people. The only family trees known are the ones distant relatives were hanged from. So in fact, Black History Month is needed more now than ever.
Your white privilege is strong, but I doubt you see it. You feel that because it doesn’t matter to you, or people like you, that it shouldn’t exist to anyone. You saw a Snapchat filter and didn’t like that you couldn’t use it. The truth is, black history is your history as well. The city you’re from was most likely built with black hands. Many of the things you enjoy and love probably came from black innovation. You’re young, sheltered, and inexperienced so I see why you feel the way you feel. So thanks, but no thanks to your opinion on Black History Month.
Go (black) Pride!