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February 20, 2002
7:11 PM   Subscribe

Did anyone else forget that February is supposed to be Black History Month? Would you believe that Black Entertainment Television (BET) did.
posted by Rastafari (12 comments total)

 
Your post is misleading and misrepresents the truth. There's no evidence in this article supporting the idea that BET actually "forgot" Black History month.

This line from the article applies to your post: "It's unfortunate that some individuals will use their media power to completely misstate the facts."
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:17 PM on February 20, 2002


Yes, it's true, I often use my media powers to misstate the facts. Thanks, Mo, for pointing that out, and making me see the light...
posted by Rastafari at 7:21 PM on February 20, 2002


Black history month is a time for other ethnic groups to learn more about black history. Black people know where they came from, they don't need to be told again and again. They have ethnic pride, as do I, I'm Irish dammit.
posted by banished at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2002


I'm American. I cannot tell you whether my family is Irish, English, German, Czech, Austrailian, Native American, Asain, or whatever because as far as my family knows, we go back to the 1700's in the States. Only through the history of my surname could I ever make any guess as to where my family may have descended, but what does it matter?

An Irish friend of mine (born and raised) was surprised at how our school celebrated St. Patrick's day here in the States. She could not understand why we made such a big deal about it. This kind of thing makes me wonder if celebrating ethnicities actually has any unifying qualities to it. Has anybody else wondered this? Does celebrating or observing ethnicitiy do any more good than celebrating our eye color or shoe size?

I understand that there are some fundamental problems with racisim. Yet I wonder if making holidays of race is just another form a segregation even if its in a festive form.
posted by crog at 10:52 PM on February 20, 2002


Crog: "I wonder if making holidays of race is just another form a segregation..."

I would have to say that's a big yeppers. I look forward to the year when a white guy's hanging out with a black guy and goes, "hey? Isn't this supposed to be black history month?" and the black guy goes, "Nah, don't worry about it. Where's our big boobed slaves with the drinks?"
posted by ZachsMind at 11:37 PM on February 20, 2002


I understand that there are some fundamental problems with racisim. Yet I wonder if making holidays of race is just another form a segregation even if its in a festive form.

I would think so; but that's just the pandering nature of multi-culturalism. It seems not long ago, we could say 'Black' for 'African-American.' How many 'African-Americans' are actually from Africa? (or for that matter, 'Irish-Americans') I doubt any of those that insist on the use of that (those) stupid phrase(s).

An exhange student from Ireland that I met at school once told me unless you're born in Ireland (and he implied lived there for a significant amount of time as well) you're not Irish. He was actually offended that people here who had never been to Ireland and/or were not born there would call themselves 'Irish-American' or 'Irish' at all. That seemed strange to me. But it's extremism makes some sense.

If we lighten that attitude, it's really just a recognition that PC attribution to ethnicity or nationalism isn't as criticized as it should be.
posted by alethe at 11:38 PM on February 20, 2002


Yet I wonder if making holidays of race is just another form a segregation even if its in a festive form.

By this definition of "segregation," Christmas would have to count as religious segregation. And it's not, at least it never was to me, and I'm Jewish.

Segregation involves forcibly dividing people up and preventing some of them from doing something (like, say, use the better drinking fountain, attend the better school, or sit in the front of the bus). Just because a situation isn't brimming over with multiculturalistic joy doesn't mean that it involves segregation.
posted by bingo at 12:01 AM on February 21, 2002


This kind of thing makes me wonder if celebrating ethnicities actually has any unifying qualities to it.

Oh, absolutely. On St. Patrick's Day, underage students from all over the tri-state area converge on Manhattan to get blind drunk and vomit all over the side streets as the parade keeps the cops busy.
posted by aaron at 12:05 AM on February 21, 2002


Um, Black History Month's no holiday. Not a festive occasion, either. I wish it was like spring break. I could use the time off from work. (It's been a rough year, and it's only *looks closely at wristwatch* February.)

crog: banished has the right idea, but I think Dr. Carter G. Woodson, its creator, started out with just one week and the intention of educating blacks about famous figures in their history.

alethe: I hereby grant you special dispensation to use "Black" in place of "African-American."*** Anybody messes with you, you tell 'em come see me and we'll get 'em sorted straightaway. Oh, me? I like "African-American" myself. You really think it's stupid? The phrase doesn't smack of political correctness to me, but an expansive, inclusive embrace of people who live in the U.S. and (choose to) claim African ancestry. When I think of folks from African countries who move to America, I think (e.g.) Nigerian, Somalia, Eritrean, Zimbabwean and so on. ...

***Does not apply to actual organizations with "African-American" in their title. Contents may settle during shipping. Substantial penalty for early withdrawal. All reserves righted, and so on. You get the picture ...
posted by allaboutgeorge at 12:07 AM on February 21, 2002


Woe be unto anyone expecting or looking for educational programming on BET. I understand they've got to make a buck; accordingly, I'd pay more for historical and serious programming if they'd provide it. Would it kill them to throw "Sankofa" or "Daughters of the Dust," or something that didn't get much exposure in theaters, like the indie film "George Washington"?

Mo Nickels: I'd say BET didn't so much forget about Black History Month so much as it wasn't part of their plan to make a fuss about it. And that's OK -- twenty years they've been on air, and viewers know what to expect from them. (Market-phile wags could argue that BET's too busy making history to add it to their programming.)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 12:19 AM on February 21, 2002


Thank you allaboutgeorge! I was worried.

The phrase doesn't smack of political correctness to me, but an expansive, inclusive embrace of people who live in the U.S. and (choose to) claim African ancestry.

Well that's fine - claiming African ancestry, though, should be about more than tagging something on to 'American.' And I don't believe any of those who insist on the use of the phrase do more than just bop others over the head for their anti-PC language.

When I think of folks from African countries who move to America, I think (e.g.) Nigerian, Somalia, Eritrean, Zimbabwean and so on.

And I would agree if those were the only people who insisted on the phrase, but they're not. (And I say agree here, because I don't want to express my opossition to the silliness of the hyphenated name to begin with). Phrases like that have become politically correct terms for ethnicity, whether you actually have any ties to truth of the claim or not. I've no problem with a person like Chinua Achebe (but I don't think he's a citizen here) saying he is African-American, but it seems disingenious of someone who is not from Africa to say so. So that's one of my points. But maybe I'm just anti-hyphens. ;-)
posted by alethe at 11:11 AM on February 21, 2002


alethe: Here's a way of looking at divisions within the African-American community.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2002


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