It’s Black History Month, a time that African Americans celebrate the history of their ancestors and the contributions that many have made to American History. From Harriet Tubman to Carter G. Woodson to Booker T. Washington to Madame C.J. Walker to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. there have been a number of “firsts” that have made a difference in helping to shape America. Along with key accomplishments, other things celebrated during black history month is food! Whenever February rolls around each year and black history programs are being planned, for many the menu is equally important. Some menus include collard greens cooked with fatback, fried chicken, chitterlings (chitlins), hog maws, etc. I just don’t get it! I was taught that Black History Month was created to celebrate accomplishments. In fact according to Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, Assistant Professor of History and African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, “The purpose of Black History Month, at least according to its founder, Carter G. Woodson, was, first, to give blacks a sense of pride in their accomplishments and, second, to educate whites on the contributions that African-Americans have made to the nation.”1
If Black History month is about the celebration of accomplishments and positiveness then why do we celebrate foods that could have a negative impact on our bodies? If Black History month is about teaching the youth the history, then let’s teach the youth about how foods that were eaten during the slavery period were vital to survival because there was no choice. Teach the youth that during the early history prior to high manufacturing food production, there were no food additives, antibiotics, or genetically modified foods, which made the food of the past, somewhat “more healthier” than it is today. The pig from the 1800’s ate healthy and lived cage free unlike the pig of today that’s crammed in facilities and many times given antibiotics to make it fatter! Teach the youth that we now have a choice in what we eat and that we have overcome not just from sitting in the back of the bus or entering from the back door, but also we have overcome from being told what we can and cannot eat–we now have the right to choose! Now that’s something to celebrate!
1McCarter, William Matt. “There is a White Sale at Macy’s: Reflections on Black History Month.” Vol.01, No. 02 (2012).
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