I’m waiting for the right “opportunity” to change

Here’s a video celebrating 25 great African American women.

This is NOT directed specifically towards Cristen, but to the greater issues of Black History Month. I’m just taking offense to the idea of Black History Month as an “opportunity”. The video was very informative (and hilarious, as Cristen always is) and I learned a lot about the contributions of black women. Cristen explicitly says in the comments that her intents are not to capitalize on the opportunity, but to show some really cool women that most people otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to. Check out her other videos, she has a fresh and analytical take on women and stereotypes, norms and roles. She also has some down-right-choke- yourself-laughing videos that are just fun to watch.

So it’s Black History Month, as many of you know by the posts, videos, interviews and essays springing up everywhere on people of colour. Some choose to celebrate the accomplishments of black women and men, and others highlight how far we still need to go as people. However, with all the awareness and attention given not only to issues of prejudice and racism, injustices in sex, sexual orientation, mental health, disabilities and religious discrimination are discussed as well. A lot get’s done in these 28 days, yet I find fault with February’s identity as “an opportunity for change.” Black History Month is a means for discussion and change, but it is not the only month to discuss what’s wrong with the world. Did someone call you a racial slur in passing? Were you discriminated against at work for your colour? Are people giving you hell and their unwanted thoughts for being in an interracial relationship? Wait until February, that’s the appropriate time to discuss it!

Though Black History month isn’t blatantly advertised as the sole time to bring up issues of colour, we shouldn’t use the existence of the month as the only opportunity to be pissed off. Autism Awareness Month should be a year long event. Mental Health Month should be discussed everyday. If you are dealing with sexual assault, depression, racism, or anything else of that nature, your voice should be heard everyday of the year. And that’s the thing, people do voice their concerns, but we don’t hear them until their voices are amplified by their assigned time, and then we have no choice but to listen. These concerns don’t expire with the end of their allocated month, day or week, so why should we act as if they do?

With that said, I’m not going to ignore February and pay attention to racism only during the other eleven months. That would be no better, really, than paying attention only in February. Let’s force people to focus on what’s wrong with the world 365. Let’s see them constantly uncomfortable, squirmish and self-reflective so that the only way to make us stop blabbering about our issues is to actually listen to them. Everyday is a good day to disrupt societal norms and effect change.

Do you feel Black History Month, and others months and days dedicated to change, work towards change while simultaneously undermining their efforts? Do you focus on issues of race, sex, sexual orientation, environmental destruction, poverty, mental health and physical health on a daily basis? If yes, what are you doing to stir things up? What are your thoughts on the video and “opportunity?”

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4 thoughts on “I’m waiting for the right “opportunity” to change

  1. I have a dream that someday people will live in a world and not even notice whether someone is black, blue, white, lavender or whatever they are. People won’t feel the need to define themselves or others based on some gender accident or age. People will be valued for their achievements, their kindness, their humor.

    • Same here. A world where your most identifying and telling feature won’t be your colour, sex, or any other physical feature that you naturally have. People fret so much over things they can’t change in others. Yes, someone may be homosexual, dark or male, but that isn’t something that they chose to be, there is no sense in penalizing them for it. Why not fixate on something that we can control — like you said, your achievements, humor and kindness?

  2. I feel like the designated times that celebrate certain causes or people should act as simple reminders. Like you said, we don’t have to talk about the issues of racial discrimination during a certain month.

    Awareness for issues pertaining to gender, sexual orientation, race, mental health, and other discriminating factors should be for every single day of the year. Designating a certain day, week, or month for a cause makes it seem like it’s only important at that time even though I know that’s not the intention.

    • I feel like it isn’t the intention either. It’s hard to get over that, because I don’t feel that removing designated days is the solution either. I guess we can just try to keep these issues in mind everyday of the year.

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