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My #BlackHistoryMonth story:

In February of my senior year of high school, there was a Black History Month presentation scheduled. But attendance was optional.

The optional attendance policy upset the black students in the school. They staged a walkout during the lunch periods.
My 4th period class -- lunch periods shared the same time slots as 4th period classes -- was all white students, so we sat in our room during the walkout, which I think we could see from our window. None of us kids really understood why the walkout was occurring.
After all, it was a Black History Month presentation, so why should everyone have to attend it, instead of just students who were interested in Black History (whatever that meant), of whatever race? The attitude in the room was one of mainly confusion.
Something that might surprise nonwhite people: White people don't look at American history as "white history". To us, it's just history, & it includes everyone who participated in it -- whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc. Whites see American history as every American's history.
So the idea that there could be such a thing as "Black History" which was somehow different from American history seemed to be a little unreasonable and off-putting. What about French, Italian, Polish, and other Americans? Were they getting their own histories and history months?
Nobody really *wanted* to see American history fractured like that. Most of us had been told growing up -- by the government, by the media, by our entertainment, and, yes, even by our white families -- that all people are just people, and making racial distinctions is wrong.
So to see black students separating out and effectively saying, "No, there's something different about us, and it's something we'll force you all to acknowledge whether you're interested in it or not" -- well, that seemed at cross-purposes to all our prior anti-racist education.
Not to say that there weren't some racist kids in my class. One of them actually read a poem lauding the KKK. (I don't recall whether the teacher was in the room then. I'd like to think not. He was my ideal teacher. Wise. SO nice. Only ever got upset with one kid. That kid DIED.)
I've thought about the kid who read the KKK poem a lot lately with all the stuff going on in Virginia. I wonder how many people think he should have no political career (not that he does) because he read that poem, or that I should come forward if he ever tried at such a career?
Anyway, most of us white kids were royally stymied by the walkout. We'd been taught that America had fought a Civil War so that black people could be treated equal to white people, and we couldn't interpret the walkout in light of that. It seemed contradictory. It seemed *wrong*.
By the time 4th period, and the walkout, ended, the mood in the class was pretty sullen. The room was a cauldron of confusion and resentment.

As we left, my teacher said softly, "I sure do hate it when these things happen."

"Out there...or in here?" I asked.

"Yeah," he sighed.
The walkout was victorious. The school changed its policy, and both sessions of the Black History Month presentation were made mandatory for all students. Two instances of the presentation were scheduled -- freshmen and juniors in one, sophomores and seniors in the other.
I recall two speakers, both black men. The first speaker I enjoyed. He spoke about the discrimination he had experienced as a black professional -- how he had to work twice as hard to receive the same recognition as a white professional. He preached excellence. Very good speaker.
The second speaker...hoo boy. I don't remember what his overall message was. I do remember that he made all the white students in the audience stand up and prove they lack rhythm. He also remarked that chimp armpits are white, which proves whites and blacks are related after all.
That got uncomfortable laughter and some side-eye glances from the audience I was in, but things otherwise proceeded as normal.

In the other audience, though -- the freshmen and juniors -- apparently some people got so offended there were people out of their seats. Good times!
So what was the result of the #BlackHistoryMonth presentation? I can't see how it did any good, really. The walkout did nothing but make the black students on campus seem more of a separate population than they ever seemed before. The presentation itself generated some ill will.
Today. I'm sure that every person who had to sit through both the walkout and that presentation has their mind wrenched back to that unnecessarily turbulent time every February. Because February is #BlackHistoryMonth, and Black History Month won't let you forget. I never have.
The moral of the story? *Nothing good comes from racial separation.*

If you want to end #racism, you must stop thinking in terms of #race. If you put an emphasis on race for evil purposes, it's racist. Everyone knows it. But if you put an emphasis on race for good, *so is that*.
Why did I write this story? Because this happened today. And the people who champion seeing everything through the lens of #race need to realize that all they are doing is fueling those who see the world through a #racist lens. We don't need this nonsense.
And, yes, when you get right down to it, I'm saying abolish #BlackHistoryMonth. I'm saying abolish *anything* that in this day and age, when we're as integrated a society as we've ever been, keeps telling us to make artificial distinctions on the basis of #race. It isn't helping.
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