Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tazi's Corner #32 - Are Black History/Women's History Months Achieving Their Goals?

Dear Readers:

February is Black History Month; March is Women’s History Month. Does this mean that the remaining ten months of the year are dedicated to White Men’s History? And if so, what happens to Native American History and Latino History? Asian-American History? Do they not get a month of their own, too? I ask these questions not to cause fractiousness but out of true concern for the teaching of history in our American schools.

I realize that much of history’s recorded deeds are credited to men by men, and this is not a screed against those men; rather, it is a suggestion that that those who record history look deeper before recording our posterities. Surely there are people whose skin color and sex differ from that of our Founding Fathers who worked to imprint their mark directly alongside those who shaped our nation! Why not include their accomplishments along with these teachings, instead of relegating them to a separate month, as if these accomplishments are somehow made all the more impressive because it was a black man – or a woman of any color – who accomplished them? Would the words of Frederick Douglass be any less thought provoking if they were orated by a white man? Would First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s tireless work for Civil Rights be any less noteworthy if she were born with a scrotum? I realize that at the time these events took place both sex and skin color did make the words and behaviors of these now historical figures shocking, but must we still be shocked and amazed that words and actions of such high caliber could be achieved by those possessed of these traits? Haven’t we moved forward at all over the last 75 – 150 years?

Please don’t misunderstand me; I will take Black History and Women’s History any way I can get it, if only to be assured that it remains a part of a well-rounded educational curriculum, but I feel that setting aside a separate month to focus on the subject in depth leads to educators focusing on the subject solely during that prescribed time. This, to me, is the greater ignorance, and my goal is to combat this ignorance! I ask: Are Black History Month and Women’s History Month accomplishing their goals of making Americans aware of the accomplishments of our minority populations?

Many years ago, one of my Mommie’s friends challenged her to name fifty Black people of historical note. (This was before the Internet was in wide use!). Between her and a few very well-learned friends (one who is now a Librarian!) they were able to accomplish this goal. The challenger, not to be vanquished, put forth a second challenge: name ten historically notable women. Again, the group pulled it out and came up with an even dozen names at which point a final challenge was issued: name five historically notable Native Americans. All were thankful she did not ask for ten, since all they could come up with at the time was five: Sacajawea, who also counted as a woman; Geronimo; Sequoia (for whom the tree is named, but they did not know what else he did); Crazy Horse; and Sitting Bull. Squanto was remembered after the fact, and Jim Thorpe was mentioned, but it his place in history was questioned. Does sports history count as American History?

Today, I set forth this same challenge to you, my readers: How many historically notable American minorities can you name? Please leave your answers in my comments section, along with any links to further information about them!

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

2 comments:

  1. Ok, I wanted to go as minority as I could get: a list of Latin-American women. I had to cheat. Even then, the best I came up with was Sonia Sotomayor. Since you discounted sports athletes, I figured I had to discount entertainers, which was the majority of names that googled up. Perhaps your readers can help me?

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