GROWING UP AS AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN KID in Virginia, I used to appreciate the collection of positive stories about black people I’d get in the paper and on TV around this time every year. Stories about schoolchildren like me reciting portions of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, for instance, or of volunteers receiving kudos for their work in the black community and praising the inspiration of King or George Washington Carver or Rosa Parks. While their accomplishments were extraordinary, at the end of another February I’ve reached the point at which I can no longer stand to see the “history” part of Black History Month interpreted so literally — so lazily .
I’m all for celebrating achievements. The problem is, with our eyes too firmly fixed on the past, we’re missing all the things black people are accomplishing right now.