A month to not remember: Appreciating outside the timeframe

In the spirit of African American Appreciation Month, I decided to Instagram a picture of myself sitting in the back of the bus to honor Rosa Parks’ nonviolent protest against transportation inequality. I also decided to replicate Martin Luther King Jr’s ” I Have a Dream” by tweeting about my dream. #respect.

The Library of Congress dedicates February to honor the historical African American figures (Black History month), May for Asian/Pacific Americans, September for Hispanic and Latino Americans, and November for Native Americans. However, setting aside a month to honor the heritage of a certain race defeats the purpose of appreciating said heritage. The appreciation of the many heritages throughout America should be year-round. It should not be a national commemoration but an event that takes place within every individual.

Many Americans feel a moral obligation to educate themselves on the heritages of certain races in the months set aside by Congress.  Congress places a subliminal pressure that mandates the appreciation of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American cultures. However, once the months end, only a small portion continue to further their education about the heritages. This, in itself, is not the problem.  There is an evident degree of stereotypical bias in the American public that could be replaced by a more accurate outlook if the American public further educate themselves of other ethnicities.

Since we’re on the topic of different ethnicities, Congress did not dedicate a month to celebrate the cultures of Middle Easterners and Southern Asians. Does this mean that we should not educate ourselves about these heritages? David Kozy, a retired university professor, published an article on the Center of Research on Globalization suggesting that America has a fundamentally flawed education system that could only be improved if we change our cultural values. However, this change does not need to take place on the national level in order to be effective.  The decision to educate ourselves about the various cultures and ethnicities within America should be an individual effort, not national.

Many would argue that having a month dedicated to celebrate and appreciate these cultures would only highlight the need for further awareness, not take away from it. However, further awareness of cultural diversity is currently lacking because individuals are not taking the initiative* to inform themselves about the various legacies.

Avenue Q’s song, “Everyone is a Little Bit Racist,” rings true in today’s society. However, there is a distinction between laughs and giggles from  light-hearted jokes and prejudiced comments. This distinction is education and cultural tolerance that could be achieved outside of a single month, in a year-round effort to. 

* Initiatives exclude “liking” a picture with a famous quote from an historical civil rights activists, sharing that picture, #hashtaggingitontwitter,  etc.