While I appreciate the college’s efforts, I feel AACC needs to do a better job representing its African-American student body during Black History Month.
In the Pascal Gallery in the Student Union building, a display containing documents, images and a video explaining the history of lynching in Anne Arundel County and Maryland went up at the end of January. The graphic details of 41 lynchings were on full display during what was coined a pre-Black History Month exhibit.
Black History Month on campus every February seems to revolve mostly around the painful history of black people in this country, or on some type of dialogue around race meant more for non-black students.
The college hosted a Race Card event, in which students were asked to put their thoughts on race into six words on a card and stick it to a wall. This culminated in a “Meeting of the Minds” dialogue on race, but to me this serves no purpose in representing black history or serving the black members of this college.
I don’t feel the black student body here needs to be exposed to images of brutality or subjected to moderated, simple conversations around race. These seem to serve more as a history lesson for non-black students, and have the effect of bogging down in sadness what should be a celebration.
Black History Month should celebrate black history, not be used as a meditation on race.
Despite this, I did enjoy some parts of the school’s Black History Month celebration.
The Cade Center Gallery hosted an amazing exhibit called “Grey Matter: A Response to Blackness,” which featured haunting yet beautiful imagery about what it means to be African American, all from black artists.
Another exhibit went up in the Pascal Gallery as Black History Month started and was filled with items from throughout black history. While it featured a few racially insensitive items, like a mammy doll, the display was dominated by beautiful African art.
These kinds of events should dominate AACC’s Black History Month festivities. And the celebration should go beyond gallery exhibits and include events featuring black art as showcased in film and music that highlight interesting parts of black history.
We should highlight the achievements of black people in this country, not just their anguish.
The history of African Americans in this country was born from horror, and it is filled with it. However, Black History Month should serve to help us remember triumph through this pain, not scar us with images in remembrance of it.
To me, Black History Month is meant to be a month of celebration. It should be a celebration of black culture and black achievement spanning far past the history of chattel slavery.
Instead, here at AACC, it seems to serve only as a platform for black pain and a watered-down discussion of racial equality.