Silence Can Be Our Greatest Enemy: A reflection on Black History Month

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” -Martin Luther King Jr. 

Black History Month is one of the most important months of the year. Why? Not just because it enlightens people on African-American heritage, but it also lets racists know that we will not be silent, no matter how much they try to oppress us. Black History Month is important because it is one of the ways we can speak up and let people know that we have a story that needs to be told all over the world, and that there is so much more to our story than what America says. Almost since America has first began, African-Americans have been abused, criticized, and scorned. We have been told time and time again that we don’t know our own story, and that it “isn’t all about us.” Not only that, but we also have been handed an unflattering image of what people in our race act like.

African-American men are almost always seen as aggressive, scary, thuggish, and illiterate, and African-American women are constantly having to prove themselves to their coworkers, or mask their voices to seem more “white and proper.” It seems as though no one wants to hear our story. From being beaten by police officers for “non-compliance,” to being snubbed at the Oscars and Grammys once again, it feels as though the world is constantly trying to suppress our voices and ignore our talents. Why? Because we are rising and breaking racial boundaries, and America simply can’t handle it. That is why Black History Month is important. Every time it seems as though the racists are winning, when Black History Month rolls around, it’s like a bug in their ear saying: “Hey Buddy, thought you could silence us? Think again.” 28 days may not seem like a lot, but so much can happen in so little time. Hearing the stories of past heroes who fought for equality and justice can inspire a young activist, or even a policy maker to take that final step that could potentially turn the world on its heels. Black History Month is also important because it reminds African-Americans that we have been through and accomplished so much, so why give up fighting and let the “haters” win? There is still so much work left to do, and it is normal to be tired. However, there have been so many examples of people who did not give up, even when it felt like the whole world was pressuring them to. For example, Rosa Parks did not give up her seat to a white passenger, despite being told by law enforcement to move to the back. Think of how scared she must have been, saying no to someone who could have taken her life in an instant. In spite of that, she still did not give up her seat. Black History Month reminds us of stories like hers and more that tell us that it is vital we do not give up. So why is Black History Month important? It drowns out the deafening silence forced on African-Americans by those who hate us.

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