Updates from Frederick Smith, former Detroiter living in Los Angeles, and author of Down For Whatever (July2005) and Right Side of the Wrong Bed (December 2007).
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Color By Number and Month
I know a bunch of black speakers, performers, artists, musicians, etc... who can't get work until February, when they're inundated with work. So a bit of advice to powers-that-be: you don't just have to hire black speakers for February, which has traditionally served as Black History Month in the U.S.
Same goes for women speakers, performers, artists in March. Gay and lesbian speakers in June... or October. Chicana/o Latina/o speakers in September/October. Asian Pacific speakers in May. You get the picture.
You can actually hire them for work throughout the entire year. Yeah, really!
I know many folks at the Cross Cultural and Multicultural Centers at California universities and colleges (CaCCCHE) have taken a pretty modernist approach to programs and events: do away with the traditional months, and include the stories, histories, and performances of people throughout the year in events. That way, people don't just see various groups as set-asides, and part of the everyday fabric of life.
I know people flinch: What? No Black History Month? No Latino Heritage Month? No Women's History Month? Asian Pacific Heritage Month?
I mean, yeah, I guess if all you're offering about folks is a 28-day drop in the bucket, and go back to the status quo after that, the idea of no heritage/history months is kinda revolting. Or if all a campus has to look forward to is one month, and then back to nothing... then... well. Nice getting paid for one month of intense work. And this is not ammunition for folks who don't want to recognize any historically marginalized groups to say... see, we don't need these months. We do. But we also need to realize that a month... just ain't gonna fly anymore.
People and their histories are real and exist beyond just the months we set aside. So why not go for a totally inclusive curriculum or event calendar that recognizes that people exist all the time... not just February, March, April, June. But it's a real effort to think outside the 30-day box that we're conditioned to think in.
And the artist/speaker types I know would definitely appreciate the work outside of their designated months... Just food for thought. fs