This & That: What about everyone else?

This & That: What about everyone else?

This & That: What about everyone else?
February 07
09:33 2018

February has been dedicated to the recognition of black history, showcasing important figures and heroes of African-American descent who had a significant impact on American society. Celebrating these people and their accomplishments shines a light on blacks in America who have always been marginalized throughout history, many of which believe they still are today.

While Black History Month is important, there is a need for something beyond.

When we talk about race relations in America, it seems like we only talk about black people. There is never discussion around other minority race groups, such as Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans, who are severely underrepresented and deserve the same recognition as part of American history.

One opinion I hear as part of the Black Lives Matter movement is once equality is given to black people, all other marginalized people will also receive the same treatments, as if to say Black Lives Matter is an umbrella term for all minorities. I, however, disagree with this thought. There is no guarantee that, for instance, Latinos will stop being perceived as “illegal immigrants” just because black people are now treated fairly. This is not to undermine black people or their mission in improving race relations, but to raise the question of where do other minorities stand in this debate.

It is all about perception.

The only way to really unite as a country under the term “diversity” is by a symbol for people to latch onto. Something as simple as a month dedicated to a specific group of people’s history is at least a step toward creating a better society.

It is admittedly imperfect — a month dedicated to indigenous people means there won’t be a discussion about Asian-Americans and vice versa, but we have to start somewhere.

The caveat to having a “history month” is that people only seem to focus on the inventors, scientists and political activists who did amazing things in their time and contributed to the shaping of America.

But it is not just about acknowledging the past. It is knowing how the past impacts the present. American history without black people, or any minority group for that matter, is a very different story.

We teach history in schools and herald Black History Month as part of the curriculum, maybe have those kids make projects for extra credit. But times have changed, and the typical American classroom is more than just white and black kids.

For a young child, they want to see someone like themselves represented in school. Isn’t there more to Latinos in America than just immigrants crossing the border? Isn’t there more to Muslims in America than just 9/11 and terrorism?

The only way to break stereotypes and misconceptions is by education, and it is better to take a simplistic approach because humans are simple-minded creatures.

It is easier for someone to join in on a month-long celebration of Native American history than reading about it in a textbook. Creating a culture centered around diversity is how we can achieve a better and more equal society.

Featured Image: Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Ridah Syed

Ridah Syed

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