Commentary: So many people failed Black History Month 2017

Corey Townsend, The Root | 2/28/2017, 10:32 a.m.
Here are 8 ways to do better.
Elena Scotti/The Root

Black History Month 2017 proved my grandfather right: Common sense really isn’t that common.

This year, as in previous years, I subscribed to the notion of being #365BLACK, but I made it a point to be extra unapologetically black this year. I wore African print, consumed a little more chicken than usual and kept hot sauce in my bag #Swag.

“Adulting” has taught me that definitions vary from person to person, and this can also be said for common sense during this year’s Black History Month. Every February, my idea of celebration involves paying tribute to those who have paved numerous roads and indulging in the greatness that is melanin. For others, this simple concept was hard to grasp and even harder to execute. In 2017, the year of my Lord and Savior, there were still some folks who were out in this world confused about how to properly celebrate Black History Month.

Since I am an altruistic Christian who is always working on my admission into heaven, I feel it is my duty to help the beige on their journey not to embarrass themselves in 2018. This alone will probably secure my seat at Jesus’ table:

1. Remember: Like black lives, spelling matters.

When you’re honoring prominent figures in the black community, it is imperative that you spell their names correctly. Your tribute becomes void for even the simplest of mistakes. You end up looking racist or as if you don’t care.

I am here to tell you that Google is still a free service and will save you from the embarrassment that will ensue if you post an incorrect name. Hey, wypipo, quick history lesson: W.E.B. Du Bois ≠ W.E.B DeBois; be better than the Department of Education. The last thing America needs is for you to tap into your inner Betsy DeVos.

2. A picture is worth a thousand words.

If you’re going to celebrate one of the many great acts of black people, it is helpful to put the correct face with the name. If you are honoring a woman who freed herself from slavery, it’s best to use a photo of her and not her alleged descendant Johnny Depp. Your Black History Month post doesn’t hold the same weight when you place someone who is taupe out in front.

Be better than 45’s administration, and don’t spread #AlternativeFacts. Don’t be like the Grammys and think we all look alike, and remember that, contrary to Tangerine Mussolini’s beliefs, we do not all know each other. And I promise I will personally find you and slap the unseasoned food out of your mouth if you ever place a piece of fried chicken near any prominent figure in our history.

3. Know the history.

If you are like Vice President Mike Pence, you probably think that shouting out a white man during Black History Month is cool, but it’s not. I know it’s hard to wrap your mind around the idea that black history started before slavery, and I know it may be difficult to fathom anything having started without white influence.