Opinion | Black history is history, stop silencing it

Xzarria Peterson, Contributing Columnist

History is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. We all learned about American, European, state and world history as we journeyed through academia. In recent years, however, an important aspect of that history — Black history — has been dismissed.

As Black culture continues to become more prominent in media and politics in the way people eat, sing and speak, we tend to forget the history behind that very culture we see emulated around us. 

Growing up, when I went to school in February, we stopped everything to learn about Black inventors, creators and politicians alike. It was a joyous occasion in which students dove deep into the importance and significance of Black culture. 

By the time I reached high school, what was once the educational focal point of an entire month suddenly became glanced over. Schools began to opt out of Black history units in favor of standardized test preparation. In high school, my AP United States history teacher assumed that our predominately-Black class would already know the history well enough, and that we wouldn’t mind skipping a celebration of our shared heritage. 

After all, we had a test to study for. 

That type of blatant dismissal is why our history is so important. Our kids have a risk of growing up in schools where even the mere discussion of anything pertaining to Black history can end terribly. 

Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned the implementation of the new AP African American studies class across the entire state. 

After the backlash and media attention, the College Board modified the course’s curriculum to no longer require the teaching of contemporary Black history, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. The course no longer includes topics relating to reparations for slavery, Black queer history or Black feminism. 

Some states have deemed Black history and the way it’s being taught in classrooms to be critical race theory. Laws and policies against critical race theory in some states have created an era that seems intent on silencing Black voices that were prominent in shaping America as we see it today. 

The purpose of teaching history is to reflect and ensure awareness of issues that people have faced in prior lifetimes. Trying to erase someone’s history will never get rid of it, and it’s time we stop letting it be ignored in the first place.

The University is hosting several events through the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for UA students to engage in Black history, like art exhibits celebrating Black artists from Alabama, or the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival

The Black Faculty and Staff Association also conducts Hallowed Grounds tours, which goes over the history of Black people in Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama.

These events are not only great for learning about Black history, but also Black Alabama history. 

Black history is beautiful, and it plays an integral role in the history of the United States. It’s time to stop being fearful. Black history is not just contained to February, and it deserves to be celebrated every day.