February is here, and if you were to pick two important events during this 28-day period, chances are you are thinking of Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. However, for Shippensburg there’s another event filling up the days on the calendar — Be Kind Month. Meant to encourage students from across campus to treat each other with kindness, many feel that this fake holiday is greatly distracting from the real ones, in particular Black History Month.
Some would say it was inconsiderate for Be Kind month to conveniently occur during Black History Month, and even more inconsiderate if their reasoning was to sandwich the two together. You see plenty of promotion for Be Kind month, Super Bowl activities in the CUB and our mascot’s new costume, but hardly enough recognition for black students and faculty.
This month on the Shippensburg official Instagram, there has been one post acknowledging Black History Month, and since then, it seems like they have called it quits for the month, sending out posts for Super Bowl events in the CUB, students (all white) playing catch, and of course, Big Red playing the saxophone on Valentine’s Day. The Ship Athletics Instagram has also posted 40 posts this month alone, and a grand total of three of those posts acknowledge Black History Month. It is embarrassing that a caricature of a bird gets more recognition than real students who are an integral part of this campus.
There is sort of an unavoidable issue in that whatever day/week/month you pick, you are going to overlap with some other "national X day/week/month." There are only 12 months to choose from, so chances are you are going to land on something that conflicts. But considering Shippensburg's issues with race on campus and in the community, it probably would have been a good idea to choose another. At the very least, they could coincide, but do not let #ShipBeKind overshadow Black history. The university should be putting more focus on it — not less.
For context, Be Kind Month is also a Shippensburg-specific thing. The mayor officially dedicated it a few years ago. So, that could be one of the reasons it gets a different amount of hype and why it is more celebrated among the community.
Regardless if it is national or local, Black History Month has been observed in February since the 1970s. Not only does the holiday get the shortest month of the year, but it now has to be overshadowed by Be Kind Month.
Shippensburg overshadowing Black History Month goes to show how little it supports Black students. The one thing that Black people get has to be shared with being kind. And let's be honest, they are sending emails about speakers and poets and so on, but how many of us are actually reading those?
I cannot speak for everyone, but I am more so looking for emails from my professors and groups I am a part of than I am anything else. Social media is how you reach your students, and if we are seeing more Be Kind propaganda than we are Black History Month the message is pretty clear — especially to Black students.