Every year, a month is set aside to celebrate female success. A month to celebrate every single accomplishment by a woman in every field, from arts to sports to science; sounds good, right?
If you think about it, a month to highlight achievements from a handful of women isn’t that progressive. At some point, you start questioning whether the month is about celebrating a community or silencing it. When you have times like Black History Month and Women’s History Month, it limits conversation about these communities to a certain time period.
“While I respect what Women’s History Month represents and think it’s important to create your own time periods and spaces of appreciation, you can’t reduce equity for women’s rights to one month,” said Dominique McPhaul, Biology and Public Health dual major.
Apart from being limited to a month, accomplishments from marginalized communities are not spotlighted, unless people from said community speak up. Achievements are either downplayed or ignored, especially if they’re brought up outside their ‘designated’ months.
“I’ll be in class and I’ll bring up the impact of an African-American inventor has made on something and I’ll be told, ‘oh, Black History Month is in February’,” said McPhaul. “It doesn’t matter, because black history is a part of American history.”
Highlighting the history of these communities for four weeks out of 52 implies that it is separate from the rest of history, or that it doesn’t affect anyone who isn’t part of these communities. It goes without saying that history needs to be represented equally, especially since history is inherently unbiased. So, how does one go about changing this?
“I think once you get to a certain age, you already have your foundation and you’ve already been socialized, so it’s hard to undo that,” said McPhaul. “I think it starts with changing the curriculum that we present to children so that it is truly inclusive. When things are inclusive, you don’t need to create specific words and terms for things.”
It’s important to create a curriculum that’s truly inclusive so people’s identities can be respected. If women’s or black history is taught throughout the year, then you don’t need to set a month aside. And that’s a small step to take.