Luther's impromptu Holi festival, or at least that's how it felt.
Women’s History Month to me is another reminder to constantly check my privilege as male in this world. Growing up with my family’s particular culture, I was never really challenged to critique the roles that gender played in society. Notions of masculinity were heavily enforced by both my father and mother. Whether it be paying for dinner or a wedding, I was told that it was customary for the man to pay for everything in order to prove himself to his significant other and her family. Showing strong negative emotions was also frowned upon if not done for an acceptable, and often extreme, circumstance. Of all the ideologies that influenced my childhood, one of the most patriarchal was the notion that the man was the head of the household and held all of the power.
Historically, women’s rights have been neglected for multiple reasons and with various justifications. Personally, I don’t feel that my rights have been endangered in my life. I recognize that my life could be much harder than it currently is; living in the United States and attending Luther College. I’ve lived my entire life in Iowa City. It is a relatively liberal area, and more urban than the typical corn fields and cows that people may imagine when thinking about Iowa. I cannot, however, allow myself to ignore the different situations that other women around the world live in. There are women who suffer. There are women who fight for their right to have a job, or to wear the clothes they want, or to have control over their own bodies. I am fighting, and I am writing for those women. I am fighting, and I am writing in fear that our current legislature might put me into an inferior position.
Coming from Kenya, the idea of Black History Month, when I first heard of it, was odd. Americans celebrate black history specifically for an entire month! Who celebrates history anyway? Where I am from, history is something you learn in school and occasionally when you pick up a book. My next thought was, why was white history not celebrated? What an injustice, I thought. However it was only as I grew older that I began to see its significance.
It’s that time of year, the time when we pause and celebrate Black History Month. As a Ghanaian international student, I found this celebration to be useful and necessary.
I come from a country where history, in my experience, is taught from a holistic angle, where the victories, as well as losses of Ghanaian people, are both taught. Where you are encouraged to look beyond the surface when discussing history, to probe deep and deconstruct history. I put on my critical lens when I am talking about history in general. As such, I assumed that black history would be interwoven and be an essential part of American history, after all, the black experience is a key part of American history. I assumed it would be at the core and not the margins. But I was surprised when it was not. I wondered why it wasn’t?