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What Google Could Learn About Black History Month From Gov. Jerry Brown (Don't Be Culturally Ignorant)

February is Black History Month in the U.S. and we're taking the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our Googlers and the communities in which we work and live. Our blog post below highlights some of the ongoing work we're doing with underrepresented groups, and you can follow +Life at Google to stay up to date with our celebrations throughout the month, and to find out more about our diversity efforts.

~ From Google's blog,

Really, Google?  Black History Month is the time for you to celebrate "diversity"?  I don't think so.

First off, I generally like Google.  I'm a Google shareholder, I use boatloads of Google products, and I'm even willing to forgive them for forking over private user information to the NSA without much of a fight until recently. 

That's why I'm surprised that Google could be so culturally tone deaf about the purpose and meaning of Black History Month.  Even if corporate leviathans like Google use it for a marketing opportunity, at least they're a bit more nuanced about it than Google.

Google, it's not "Diversity Month," it's "Black History Month."  The emphasis is on the history part.  It's not "Black Present Month" where you get to trot out the few black folks you have working for you, most of whom were probably born after the demise of vinyl records and probably can't be said to have made history just yet.  For most of us black folks, "Black History Month" is a time to remember the sacrifices and triumphs against adversity of our ancestors who came before us, not one of your black Googlers presently occupying a cubicle.  Would you post a blog entry during Passover saying, "We're taking the opportunity to celebrate our Jewish Googlers"?  I don't think so.

Context, Google.  It's all about context.  Let me show you how to celebrate Black History Month.  Exhibit A:  The Black History Month Proclamation from California Governor Jerry Brown, Jr.:

African-Americans have played a central role in our nation’s history, but for too long historians ignored or glossed over their contributions and the injustices they have suffered. The origins of Black History Month can be traced to the scholar Carter G. Woodson, who in 1926 conceived a yearly celebration to help rectify the omission of African-Americans from history books. Today, the observance of Black History Month throughout the United States stands as testament to the success of Woodson’s project and an example of how we can work together to make the teaching of history more honest.

The theme of Black History Month 2014 is “Civil Rights in America.” In the century between their formal emancipation and the successful campaign to have their civil rights protected by the law, African-Americans suffered oppression as brutal as the abuses of slavery and exclusion from the ever-growing prosperity that other Americans enjoyed. Facing terrible odds, they worked tirelessly to achieve full equality with other citizens, and this month we celebrate their bravery, toil and sacrifice on this long road to justice.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim February 2014, as “Black History Month.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 30th day of January 2014.

That's how it's done, Google.  Don't be culturally ignorant.


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