Black History Month

Black History Month

Karina N. Mayer, Writer

Black History Month is a time to educate, combat ignorance, and rid misconceptions about the community. One of the most common mix-ups is the misuse of the terms “Black” and “African American.” Most do not know there is a difference and default to one or the other for the sake of political correctness or politeness. It is important to understand the subtle difference especially when discussing race globally versus here in the U.S. There are black people all over the world on every continent (especially with immigration), so how do we know what the right term is for each one? The term “African American” is nation specific meaning that it refers to someone who has direct ancestral lineage to the continent of Africa. In the U.S. we are usually talking about a black person who was born here and is most likely multiple generations removed from any ancestor actually from Africa. For a while in our country there was a large part of the black community who were direct descendants of enslaved Africans prompting the use of the term in order to acknowledge their American citizenship as well as their African roots. 

For the black and African American community, Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, and empower the people and moments that impact and uplift the culture. Here is some insight coming from AHS students about what this month means to them: 

Can you describe the importance of Black History Month, why it is important to you specifically?

Ona Ugonna-Ufere: It’s a constant reminder to focus on the issues that the black community still face as effects of past history.

A’zon Young: It celebrates the accomplishments of black people and the recognition of how far they have come. 

Xiomara Nyekan: Black history month is important because for a very long time black people were seen as objects in this country. It’s important to me because as a half back female and it’s good to see us get the recognition we deserve.

What is something you want people of other races to take away from Black History Month?

Amauri Pimentel: That black history and the month itself means a lot to the black community. 

Syncere Faulk: This month can influence people of younger ages and efforts to combat racism. 

Kaine Ugonna-Ufere: That both races equally played important roles in US history.

What makes Black History Month so empowering to the African American community? 

Jasmine Davies: It’s a time where the community really comes together.

Xiomara Nyekan: After being oppressed for so long, it’s nice to have a month where we are being recognized where our people are being acknowledged and appreciated. Even if it’s just a month it’s nice to have it.

Ona Ugonna-Ufere: It’s a month of focus and education, it’s very important because it promotes indulgence and aims at eliminating ignorance. 

What is your response to those who doubt the importance of celebrating Black History Month?

A’zon Young: They should respect our holidays just like we respect their holidays.

Kaine Ugonna-Ufere: Why would  you doubt the c elebration of the black men and women who shed blood sweat and tears for the present day’ prosperity? 

Syncere Faulk: I feel like they are choosing not to acknowledge the struggle and growth within the community and they need to learn about it.

Which moment or figure in Black History would you consider to be the most influential? 

Jasmine Davies: MLK and Obama

Cionni Howard: Rosa Parks, she stood up for herself, she did not want to sit in the back and she made it known to everyone 

Kaine Ugonna-Ufere: The Martin Luther King speech is the most influential moment for me. 

What do you wish Black History Month focused more on?

Cionni Howard: More of the ancestors, should be more focused on people who sacrificed their lives for the freedom 

Xiomara Nyekan: I wish it focused more on the actual people. I feel like a lot of the time we focus on the ones who are famous but don’t care about the ones who are here right now.

Amauri Pimentel: The celebration of black women.

What should people know about Black History month coming from a Black American? 

Kaine Ugonna-Ufere: It’s not a month to prove that black people are better or superior, it’s a month where the contributions from African Americans are celebrated.

Syncere Faulk: It’s a contribution to all the people who were activists against racism and segregation.

A’zon Young: Everyone should be knowledgeable about Black history month, schools should focus more on the history of black people. We tend to focus on the history a lot and the accomplishments of white me n and women but never black men and women. 

Are there any changes you can see within the Black community around this time of year (black history month)? 

Cionni Howard: People celebrate it more, on social media there are a lot more posts and recognition.

Xiomara Nyekan: We (the black community) all start to get closer to each other.

Amauri Pimentel: The vibes are high and people are more friendly 

What changes would you like to see happen around the school during this month?

A’zon Young: More days off to celebrate it, talk about it more in classes, and teach students more about it. 

Syncere Faulk: More posters around and every class to talk about black activists. Ex. in english talk ab a black author events around school. 

Xiomara Nyekan: More recognition, one little poster isn’t really doing anything. We need more recognition of our people.

Would you consider Black History Month to focus more on the struggles black people have been forced to endure throughout history? Or focusing more on the empowerment of black people currently and throughout history?

Cionni Howard: The struggle, because of how much they sacrificed for the future. Like MLK he sacrificed his life for our freedom. 

Amauri Pimentel: A combo of both, without the struggle we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Syncere Faulk: Currently and throughout history, there’s still racism and segregation but little bits of it. Now people don’t do as much to stop it or their efforts are not talked about. 

What has your experience as a black student been like at AHS? 

Kaine Ugonna-Ufere: It’s been pretty good. Interactions with people of different races and ethnicities are always fun.

Xiomara Nyekan: Very eventful. My first year was ok, (online) however, last year I was told by a student that I couldn’t go here because I’m black. It’s been very different from what I’m used to.

Amauri Pimentel: I feel no different from the rest. I am treated with kindness day in and day out. Feel better here than in my previous school. 

How do you think the culture has changed at AHS making it more (or less) inclusive? 

Syncere Faulk: I haven’t seen a change.

Cionni Howard: Audubon used to be not so diverse, and as the year went by people from all around the world joined our school making the school more diverse. Not just African Americans but people from all over the world. 

Xiomara Nyekan: They would try to be more inclusive in certain classes and the activities we do but for the most parts it’s stayed the same. This is a big part of the problem.

Black History Month is not only for Black and African Americans to celebrate. Everyone can learn more and contribute to combating racism and injustice. This may seem like an impossible task but the more who are involved the closer we get to achieving our main goal: to create and live in a world where all are equal. Happy Black History Month.