Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

One Month Is Not Enough

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

One Month Is Not Enough

Article excerpt

IT'S ALMOST that time again.

From Feb. 1 through 28, a bevy of schools will pull out the stops for Black History Month, complete with special programs, speakers and videotapes on blacks from Booker T. Washington to Malcolm X.

Every year, around this time, I get requests - as do many other blacks - to give talks at schools all over town.

This year I considered saying no to all of them.

I broke down and agreed to do a couple. But I see some serious problems with Black History Month and how it is celebrated at many schools.

Quite often, schools use February to focus on black history. Then when March comes around, it's business as usual. It's treated as a fad: We'll study black history for a month and then we'll go back to ignoring it again until the next year.

Why isn't black history - and Asian history and Hispanic history and other forms of history - studied the other 11 months of the year? Why do so many schools refuse to provide a multicultural education? As a parent, I want my child to be knowledgable not only of the history of Europe and its contributions to the world, but the histories and contributions of Latin America, Asia, Africa and all points in between.

The phrase "multicultural education" evokes thoughts by some of schools that focus on multiculturalism to the exclusion of everything else.

But a proper multicultural education is nothing like that, says Arturo Madrid. Madrid is the Murchison Distinguished Professor of humanities at Trinity University in San Antonio and founder of the Tomas Rivera Center. The center, based in San Antonio, is the nation's first think tank on Hispanic and Mexican-American issues.

"There are those who prefer to demonize the idea of multicultural education," he said. "They basically try to paint a picture of those who support the concept as bad people. And on the other end of the spectrum are those who trivialize such an education by supporting a low-level concept of multiculturalism as simply an issue of self-esteem - `this is good, and you should feel proud.' "

Multicultural education should go much further than that, he says, adding that it also should go beyond history. …

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