How Black History Month Memes Teach about Black Culture

Updated: Apr 29

Black History Month as we now know it began in 1915 when following

the 50th commemoration of the passing of the 13th amendment, Harvard trained historian Carter G. Woodson and prominent minster, Jesse Moreland began the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History that researched and promoted the achievements of black Americans and other peoples of African descent. The Association began celebrating Negro History Week, the second week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass whose tireless activism to abolish slavery indicted the nation on its intrinsic racism and hypocrisy and president Abraham Lincoln, who signed the emancipation proclamation. By the onset of the Civil Rights era, it week long celebration turned into Negro History Month across Historically Black Colleges and Universities and on campuses with high populations of black students. In 1976, president Gerald Ford caught on to the wave and declared February black history month calling the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

 

Despite this declaration, the teaching of black history has failed to be expansive in schools and has been confined to only the month of February when black history is world history. However two decades into the millennium, young people took these limitations and created a pedagogical approach to teaching black history that is contextual and comical. Ladies and gentleman, I’m referring to black history memes. The genius of black history memes is that it blurs the lines between history and the present and reminds us that celebrating black people does not have to be only about at our achievements and our quest to display our exceptionalism but it must begin at the simple, yet powerful fact that we deserve to be celebrated because we are. Here are six of my favorite black history memes from the World Wide Web that are sure to teach, make you make you laugh and proud to celebrate black history 365 days a year.


The LL Cool J Meme

Despite the fact that black people have survived consistent real life horrors such as the transatlantic slave trade, slavery, Jim Crow laws and such, it’s baffling that Hollywood remains committed to black erasure when it kills off it’s black cast members first in horror films.  The creator of this meme rightfully hails LL Cool J as a pop culture hero for staying alive until the end in the 1999 movie Deep Blue Sea. 


The Randy Watson Meme


Black people first coined the term "mic drop" and then began to literally drop mics as self validation for excellence in performing or telling undisputed truths in public. This meme featuring Randy Watson, a character from the treasured black comedy film Coming to America is roll on the floor funny because Mr. Watson's singing is anything but excellent but yet, he exudes the confidence needed to drop a mic.


The "Girl Bye" Meme

If a black girl tells you “girl bye” or “boy bye”, she doesn’t want your sorry excuses for your mishaps. Thanks to this little black girl, all black girls have this phrase in their lexicon for use when people around us are trying us. 


The Soldier Boy Meme

When a host of the black national syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club insinuated that rapper Drake had more influence over the culture than rapper Soldier Boy, Soldier Boy's sarcastic rebuttal of “Draaaakee?” became a meme that allowed us to question every statement or question we deem as irrelevant in the same tone. Meme creator @MuvaDwin reminds us here that this was probably the same energy Rosa Parks gave to the unknown nobody who told her to move to the back of the bus thus starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott . 

BBQ Becky Meme

In 2018, a white woman who became infamously known as BBQ Becky ,when she, knowing the negative relationship between black people and the police, called the cops on a man having a cookout in an Oakland, California park. When you see BBQ Becky calling the cops inserted in any black activity, it is a reminder that a real disdain for black happiness exists, but as indicated in this meme, we know we have the support of the cultural icons of the past and present to fight for our right to be and to clown a racist.


The Beautician Meme

Every black woman knows what it’s like to go to the best hair dresser in town but you can’t get your hair done during the appointment time she or he booked you. Apparently this woman is to blame according to the internet. Every black woman and girl I know hated these long waits at the hair salon. In retrospect though, we can attest to the fact that many cultural iconic moments happened there and that going was a sort of right of passage.


I love the way the black present is persevering black history . I can’t wait for how we view these times in a black feature we are sure to be part of. Happy Black History Month . 

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