I was once asked why I don’t celebrate “Black History Month.”
My answer? I don’t celebrate black history month because I just celebrate black history.
To me, Black History Month is a cheap way to appease people and minimize the major contributions that black people have contributed to the American story and will do so forever.
Black History Month places all black success into the shortest month and every leap year we get an extra day of black history. That’s not for me. To isolate the contributions that blacks have made to the global fabric to a single month and call it “Black History Month” is a disservice, not just to blacks, but to all mankind.
In my mind, “black history” is simply history, and it is a story that should forever be told in conjunction with all history, not as some separate event, but as a significant and substantial part of history that is shaping the histories of the future to this day.
It’s not that I don’t celebrate black history month because I don’t acknowledge the contributions that black people have made to our history. I don’t celebrate black history month because it is impossible to fit all of those contributions into a one-month time frame. Relegating such a celebration of this history to one month minimizes them by only focusing on the few high-profile contributors while ignoring the masses of others who have contributed to the society and success of men and women from the shadows.
As the Executive Director of EMPACT One Foundation, I understand all too well what it means to work in the shadows. Our mission is to create programs, services, and community resources that transform lives, schools, and communities. We aim to enable individuals through education and community engagement to empower themselves, their families, and their community
Every day I am in the community meeting with and working with our economically challenged members who have found themselves hardest hit by a declining economy and climbing prices. No need for notoriety, never looking for applause or accolades; simply looking to be the light at the end of someone else’s dark tunnel. Believe it or not, it is from the shadows that humanity does its greatest work. I found out a long time ago that the greatest among us are those whose names no one knows.
As a black conservative, I know how hard it can be to step out of the shadows, which has allowed me to understand the comfort of remaining in there.
I don’t need people to know my name or what I’ve done. I just need those with whom I engage to know that I’ve done what I said I would do and that’s enough for me. Blacks have always done their best work from the shadows, often out of necessity. It’s not a month’s worth of recognition we’re looking for, but merely the reliable tools for success. If you give us the tools or at least show us where to find them, we can help build our nation.
Even when those tools have been withheld from us, if you just give us time, we will create the tools, and help recreate the world.
This is why I am a conservative. I have found that the chief strategy and goal of the Republican Party is providing people — regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age or origin — access to the tools necessary to build the world that they envision for themselves, their family, and their community. That’s because those tools are shaped by the same self-evident truths that apply to every person and makeup the heart of the American idea.
Reverence for these principles is why I’m a conservative and also why “Black History Month” isn’t for me.
J Antoine Miner Sr. is a veteran of the U.S. Army, Executive Chairman and National President/CEO of EMPACT One Foundation, and single father of five.