Embracing Diversity Month. Students should take the initiative to enrich their cultural awareness.

Embracing Diversity Month. Students should take the initiative to enrich their cultural awareness.

perspectives

w.malcomcolumnphotoAh, February. A month for roses by the dozen, Presidential appreciation and awkward looks in the middle of whatever social science I happen to be taking. Wait, is that last one just me? It must be Black History Month.

As one of approximately 160 African-Americans currently attending this school, I find it is my civic duty to inform you all that there isn’t anything much weirder than the exquisite experience of minding your own business and noticing that someone has been staring at you…on purpose. Do my classmates think I’m going to burst into tears at the first mention of slavery? Do they think I secretly know the answer to every question the teacher is bound to ask about the Underground Railroad? I haven’t a clue why these events occur every time February rolls around, but I’ve come to see that this month in particular brings more of these moments than those of pride in my ethnicity.

Black History Month has been a sticky subject in schools for years, decades even. Should it be celebrated? If so, why? How?

For a school like Carmel, where the vast majority of the population is either white or Asian, it becomes an issue of relevance. Either find some way to recognize it, or don’t and risk the fiery wrath of about three and a half percent of the school’s population.

In the past, CHS has done a good job of finding a happy medium. I mean, who doesn’t like listening to music one day a week during passing periods? This year just might take the cake with the art of Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass in the main commons, displays in the media center and screenings of “The Wiz” and “Sister, Sister” during SRT, but I don’t think many people actually know why all of a sudden James Brown is blasting over the speakers.

Black History Month is important because, without it, most of you will remain terribly uneducated about a decently sized chunk of American history. You should use Black History Month as an opportunity to round out your unintentionally biased education. I’ll get you started: Black History Month is in February because it’s the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, not because it’s the shortest month of the year like some people think. I strongly encourage you to pick up Why Do Black People Love Fried Chicken? And Other Questions You’ve Wondered But Didn’t Dare Ask by Nashiequa (na-shee-kwa) Washington. It’s a smart and hilarious take on many questions most people are afraid to ask about being politically correct and other topics that even I found enlightening.

With Martin Luther King Day having passed and Barack Obama currently serving his second term as President, one would think that there would an increased level for the celebration of African-American culture, but this is not the case. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Carmel needs to hit fast-forward and fully embrace the diversity that exists within these brick walls, and I’m not just talking about Black History Month.

I like watching “Remember the Titans” as much as the next person, but would it be too much to ask for a speaker to come in and talk about the Civil War? How about a 5K to raise money for scholarship programs? The spirit day possibilities are endless. I mean, it’s Carmel. We have the time and resources to do something great. And yet we sit idle, still waiting for change. Well, at least I am.

 

Amira Malcom is a photographer for the HiLite. The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach her at [email protected]

 

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