08 February 2010

Nick Jr. and Black History Month

Nick Jr. (and Sprout) are often on our TVs, but something that caught my attention this morning was a Nick Jr. commercial that made a reference to Black History Month.

Our daughter Chloe (3) watches Dora (her current favorite) and Diego, Kai-lan, Little Bill, and other shows; yet she has never even asked (or perhaps never even noticed) that they are Hispanic, Chinese, and Black. Frankly, I think that even if she did notice, she doesn't care; she watches these shows because she enjoys them. Period.

This sort of programming flies directly in the face of a notion that our society ought to be colorblind.

You might be thinking that we can't let our children grow up without knowing the history of discrimination in our country, and I wholeheartedly agree. But there is a time and place for that, and it's not for three year olds. Even then, Black History Month has been less about the history of discrimination and more about cherry-picking events, ideas, inventions, that just happen to be made by someone who was Black. This focus is never on the idea, but the person.

The Miss Black America pageant was started to protest the lack of black women in the Miss America pageant; a number of Black women have won the Miss America pageant since Vanessa Williams first won in 1984, yet we still have the Black Miss America pageant. Why?

My problem with the idea of Black (or any race) History Month is precisely that is focuses on race. This seems to be the antithesis of Dr. Martin Luther King's vision:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
When we celebrate the history of any group, based solely on their race, it flies directly in the face of Dr. King's dream, no matter how well-meaning we are. By continuing to focus on race, and not character, we push Dr. King's vision further into the future.

This isn't about race, it's about history. And it's not about Black history, it's about American history. You might wonder who said this:
"I don't want a Black History month. Black History is American History. There's no white history month.
Morgan Freeman.
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