There are a number of annual celebrations of Black History Month here in Japan. I’ve attended dozens of them over the years. Have even spoken at several, and in fact will be speaking at one later this month. And more often than not, I’ll be asked the question, “Why?”

Even those who recognize that at one time BHM met a need and served a purpose wonder why their Facebook timelines are clogged with MLK’s dream, and their child’s Happy Meals are plastered with the mugs of black leaders every February. Others decry that BHM self-segregates the black experience from world history. Some say having a special race-based celebration itself fuels racism. Some even point to the presidency of Barack Obama as a clear sign that we’re on the threshold of a post-race era on this planet, and believe that once these baby boomers and other relics of a dying era die off, they’ll likely take the remaining residue of race-related injustice and inequity with them to their graves.

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