Celebratory months honoring groups of people can be tricky. The honored sometimes wonder if all the attention is just a ploy, perhaps an excuse to go on ignoring them the rest of the year. The rest of us try to toe the line between acknowledging complaints while still celebrating the spirit of the matter.
As Black History Month draws to a close, Tayari Jones writes for the Believer about being an African American author during the month of February, and the problematic paradoxes that arise from the inevitable glut of speaking invitations. She writes:
Although many black people grumble that it is not their responsibility to educate white people about our worth, most would agree that racism stems largely from ignorance, the antidote to this is obviously education, and somebody’s got to do it. The question is whether refusing the invitations serves any purpose besides giving the writer a sense that she is doing something to address the problem. This, of course, brings in a second irony: performing a symbolic action to critique the symbolism of another equally symbolic action.