Celebrating Our Past, Ignoring Our Future?

February 10, 2011  |  

If people still celebrate Black History Month like they used to, schools should be covered in pictures of black geniuses: inventors, athletes, entertainers and more–it’s only right. The accomplishments and contributions of our people deserve it. But one gentleman, a columnist for The Washington Post by the name of Colbert I. King, an African-American journalist, thinks we need to quit focusing so much on the past every February and take responsibility for a muddled future.

In an article entitled “Celebrating black history as the black family disintegrates,” published this past weekend, King makes the point that we’re ignoring the major issues we need to be dealing with while we exalt those from the past. The main problem being that the black family is falling apart as we speak. According to the Census bureau, King says the percentage of two-parent families is now only 38 percent. Not much to celebrate. Because of these things, young men and women are having their own families, but not seeing them through. Young mothers are exiting school at a rapid rate to have their children, and men would rather hold guns than babies, according to his studies and the work of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. An increase in the dependance on food stamps, cash assistance and medical coverage from the government is a sad response the writer believes we’re settling with, making it less of a phobia to have kids at a young age. How many young parents do you see walking around with babies like the new “it” accessory?  He also says this is causing less responsibility to be taken by the youth and their parents:

“A 16-year-old mother who reads at a sixth-grade level drops out of school? Blame the teacher. Knock the city for underserving girls during their second and third pregnancies. Blast social workers for not doing enough to help children with developmental disabilities or kids in foster care. Carp at the counselors responsible for troubled youth in detention.”

It all sounds like we might not have too much to celebrate, but then again why shouldn’t we celebrating? Is King trying to say that in a month where we display black pride we need to really be re-evaluating if we’ve come far at all? Does he think we don’t have much to be proud of? A friend of mine poignantly pointed out that African-Americans are not the only group of people having trouble with teen pregnancy and single family homes, we just get put on blast for it a lot more. So why knock our love for finding strength and inspiration in the people that have come before to help us mentally make it in “the calamity in our midst” as King would say? Yet the writer also makes some interesting points. So, the question still remains, are we going goo-goo eyed over the past in an attempt to take attention away from the problems awaiting us in the future? What do we really need to be doing this month and the other 11 months of the year?

What do you think?

Read the article here.

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