We are in the midst of what the United States and Canada honor as Black History Month, now known in America as African-American History Month. America is a better nation because of the contributions of its black citizens.
The combination of people from the myriad ethnicities that exist on earth has made America a beacon of hope and freedom to the world. We have become one culture held together by a love of freedom, a common language, and our Constitution. Sadly, we have let things like skin color, or “race,” remain a divisive subject among us.
I am reminded of a quote by actress Whoopi Goldberg about being called an “African-American.” She said
“... I dislike this idea nowadays that if you’re a black person in America, then you must be called African-American. Listen, I’ve visited Africa, and I’ve got news for everyone: I’m not an African. The Africans know I’m not an African. I’m an American. This is my country. My people helped to build it and we’ve been here for centuries. Just call me black, if you want to call me anything.“
Having met people from Africa, the only thing that they have in common with my fellow Americans who are black is skin color. I do not see black Americans as African any more than I see myself as European. The fact that we have let such a superficial thing as skin color divide us is just one of our many failings as humans.
I understand the reason and purpose behind designating this month to acknowledge the historical contributions that black Americans have made to our nation. But the contributions black Americans made were not due to their skin color, their ancestry, or any other ethnic trait. Those advancements were the result of human beings exercising their God given talents and intelligence in a meritorious society. If you give any person the advantage of the education, security, and freedom that we have in this country, they will have the chance to succeed and bring about great advancements if they have the talent and work hard. Success is not guaranteed to any of us, just the chance to try.
There is only one race … the “human race!” And instead of judging each other by something that is only skin-deep, we should judge by how we treat each other. That is what defines us as human beings. Just like Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a dream that one day we will judge each other, not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. I honor the contributions of “black” Americans who have helped make this country a better place and look forward to a day when a month is not needed to honor them separately from those of other ethnicities or skin colors.