This morning, my friend Ervenna mentioned on Facebook that she is seeing very, very little Black History month content on TV, in particular. Her comment made me think a bit, and I realized she’s right. While I am steeped in black history all the time, most of the the U.S. is not, even in this month where we could have our focus there.

The sad thing is that many of us – particularly those of us who identify as white – don’t think black history has much to do with our history at all. That’s really tragic, not to mention completely false.

Black history is our history, as a country. Whether we are descended from people who were enslaved – as my family is in part, descended from people who owned slaves, or descended from people who immigrated to this country for any number of reasons, we are all tied together by the history of not only chattel slavery but also the contributions and efforts of people of African descent.

If my research has taught me one thing, it’s this: the stories of these 286 enslaved people in Central Virginia – these are our stories, too. The stories we have forgotten or willfully hidden. The stories we have chosen to ignore or that we have quietly passed down through evening conversation. The stories that make us who we are as Americans – for better or worse.

It’s a sad statement that for us to honor these stories we have to create a special month where they should be noted, and it’s even sadder that even in that confined month we don’t give these stories ear. This fact alone says something of why we need these stories more than ever.

So here in Black History Month and all year-round, I wish, with Ervenna, that we would learn these stories, that we would own them as our own and treasure them for the beauty that they are and the tragedy we never want to repeat.

What are your feelings about Black History Month?