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Fried chicken does not celebrate Black History Month

Irere Romeo Kwihangana | Monday, February 27, 2012

It’s 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, last semester. I am walking back from Mod Quad and I happened to walk by LaFun. Three belligerent Caucasian students are talking to each other and aimlessly shouting the N-word. I call them out on it. They shout back, disregard my comment and keep on using the word. I let that pass; I wanted to go to sleep.

Tuesday morning Feb. 21 at breakfast, a good friend of mine sits across from me and tells me that there are people who have been putting fried chicken in mailboxes of groups like the African Student Association, Black Student Association and similar groups to “celebrate Black History Month.” I couldn’t help but recall that Saturday night and feel the same way. I was shocked, flabbergasted, speechless, confused, angry and disappointed. I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t know what to make of this act. Both times, I wanted to do something right then and there, but that wouldn’t amount to anything.

I would think that, as a whole, we understood what Black History Month is about. I know stereotypes exist. I know that it’s easier to joke about stereotypes than it is actually to be legitimately funny. However, is that what Black history is? Celebrating Black stereotypes? Is putting chicken or watermelon in a mailbox of a minority-focused group actually funny or does it just accentuate a gap of cultural understanding?

To me, Black History Month is about celebrating the culture and the figures that have made an impact on American history. I love fried chicken and I love watermelon, but is that all I love? No, I love technology, I love talking about learning and I am amazed by design. It might be funny, perhaps for a femtosecond — putting chicken in those mailboxes — but I hope that it is not what Black History Month has come to be. I hope that there is more to it than that.

Irere Romeo Kwihangana

sophomore

Morrissey Manor

Feb. 27