Each year, I get excited about the months. The months, you may ask? Yes, the months. They bring holidays, birthdays, new weather, Spring Breaks and culture. Cultural history 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.
These months are here to celebrate a culture and the accomplishments these cultures have made throughout history. These months are not here to take away from anyone else’s shine, and I often hear 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 for these months?” 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 put on during these months.
Through the celebration of a culture within a month, we are able to step outside our comfort zones, open our minds and learn new things in a generally safe manner and 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, and 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, “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? Our country? 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 people of the same culture. One thing that I do know is that as 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 silly feelings we are having about cultural history months, we will realize how intertwined everyone’s 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.
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.