SMC under represents its African American population during Black History Month
Black History Month is a celebration for achievements made by African Americans and is a time to recognize their contribution to American history. It is celebrated annually during the month of February. So why is it that I feel like no one is aware of it on the Santa Monica college campus? According to the African American History and Heritage site, Black History Month was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and former slave and celebrated author, Frederick Douglass. In 1976, Negro History Week became Black History Month and was celebrated all over North America.
Although five Black History Month events are planned for the upcoming week, I have a feeling that no one really knows or cares about attending.
"I totally forgot that [Black History Month] was supposed to be this month," said Rachel Meniane, a Santa Monica student of Caucasian ethnicity.
I find it weird that African American students know about the celebration but some students from other ethnicities forgot about it, don't care, or even worse, have never heard of it.
Is Black History Month a celebration only for Black people?
Of course students know about Dr. Martin Luther King, his famous speech, and his influence in the civil rights movement; but not a lot know about the origins of this celebration and the importance of celebrating it no matter what color you are.
"I didn't know that SMC planned any events for Black History Month," said Davis Ibata, an African American student. "I wish I'd heard of it before you told me," he added.
According to the Black Collegians program, the events were posted on their website and flyers were distributed on campus. How come, then, have most of the students of SMC not heard of it? Do the students have to be part of the program to learn more about these upcoming events?
Apparently yes, as students that are part of the program received an email from Sherri Bradford, the programs leader and counselor, telling them about the upcoming events and how important it is to "show this college that we want to celebrate our heritage."
Students told me that they were not exactly sure of how to actually celebrate Black History Month and would love to learn more about it.
‘'I have no clue what I'm supposed to do to honor Black History Month," said Brian Traore, a freshman SMC student.
Here is advice on how to celebrate it from Sherri Bradford: "please support Black History Month activities." But you wouldn't even know that if you weren't privy to her emails.
So, I also encourage all of you to celebrate Black History Month by attending the activities that are happening this upcoming week.
Yesterday, a guest artist, Kamau Daaood, spoke from 11:15a.m. to 12:35p.m. accompanied by a screening of the film "The Great Debaters" and a discussion of said film with actor Jermaine Williams.
A presentation from Dr. Benjamin Bowser on "African Americans and the issue of diversity on College campuses" will be taking place on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 11:15a.m. in Art 214. Finally, a film called "All On Mardi Gras Day" will be shown, followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Royce Osborn, the same day at 6:30p.m. in HSS 165.
All events are free and everyone is more than welcome to attend. Hopefully people feel compelled to support the events planned for the celebration of something so important. People should feel inclined to ensure that the pain of 300 years of slavery that Black people once endured will never be forgotten and concerned with the prevention of every day racism, stereotypes, and sarcasm and suspicious we still face every day.