Each year, I get excited about the months. The months, you ask? Yes, the months. They bring holidays, birthdays, new weather, Spring Breaks, and culture. Cultural months are always exciting. We have designated months celebrating cultures such as Latino/a culture, Black culture and GLBTQ culture.
Being on a college campus, these months are filled with great activities one could attend in order to learn something new about a different culture. One could also attend these events simply because they are fun and enjoyable. These months are here to celebrate a culture and the accomplishments that have been made throughout history.
Cultural history months are not here to take away from anyone else’s shine, and I often here backlash about these months for doing so: “Why are they here?” “Why don’t we have a white history month?” “Is there still any purpose?” and so on and so forth. If you are so lucky to have asked one of these questions, you should enroll in an ethnic studies class, or continue to read my take on the topic (not that my take is the equivalent to an ethnic studies class, you should still look into that).
Why are cultural history months here? Because our general history has a bad habit of leaving out certain people, details and facts. A majority of current history tells the story of America and the world from one point of view, so much so that we have designated history classes to fill in (or correct) all the other details (not to mention the fact that these classes are not even generally offered until one gets to college.). Cultural history months are here to fill in those blanks. You can find out facts about history you did not know by attending the activities and workshops.
Through the celebration of a cultural within in a month, we are able to step outside our comfort zones, open our minds and learn new things in a generally safe zone. These zones are special and not found everywhere. This is where you are also able to see an essence of a people. Their laugh, their dance, their food, their words, shared with you in hopes that you will like it, too.
These are the things that you will take it back with you and hopefully share it with someone you know. Hopefully give you experiences you will also remember and never be able to duplicate. Hopefully try out that dance again or that new recipe. Hopefully change the way you view this huge world into something much smaller. Hopefully show you that we are a lot more similar than different.
A month within itself is not enough time to tell all the stories, share all the jokes, and enjoy all the things that different cultures have to offer. For that reason, and that reason alone, I wish we did not have cultural history months, but that all culture was integrated into our daily lives. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Culture is integrated into our daily lives, look at all the different foods, clothing, and other items America has to offer.” While this is true, we should also ask ourselves if we know the meanings behind these dishes.
When are these certain types of clothing worn (not on Halloween) and what do they represent? What are the origins of these items, these people? Even though we have not reached a country where this is true, we have come to a good place when teaching about other cultures and their histories, and I know strides will be taken to bring us to even better place.
I am sure that the significance of cultural history months will continue to be questioned long into the future by people of different cultures and by people that show a similar ethnic background. One thing that I do know is that, for now, cultural history months are here, so you should take advantage of them.
They are here to celebrate other cultures and not take away the shine from anyone else’s. Why do we feel that when we celebrate one thing, we take away from another? That is not the case here at all. There is no competition between cultures. All are great, should be celebrated, and not one is better than the other.
Let me repeat that. Not ONE is better than the other. Once we let go of whatever sill feelings we are having about cultural history months, we will realize how intertwined everyone culture is with one another, and how important different cultures are to our country and our future. And if you are feeling inspired after this article, you are in luck: it’s Black History month. Go check out some of the cool activities the B/AACC office is putting on for the rest of the month. Enlighten yourself. Take charge of your own education. You might even find out something interesting about yourself.
Shanel Hughes is happy to celebrate a variety of cultures throughout all the months of the year. Love letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cultural history months are here to celebrate different cultures, not to compete or take away from anyone else’s culture.
Cultural history months often tell a part of or fill in the blanks in history.
You can learn much, gain much, and have a good time by taking advantage of these months.