Do specially designated months unite us or divide us?

Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

February blooms possibilities. It teases us with the promise of spring; its longer days hint of warm nights to come. But in the world of human-created conceits, February could be considered the most schizophrenic of months.

Groundhogs, valentines and long-dead presidents crowd the calendar. The shortest month is also designated Black (or Afro-American or African-American, depending on whom you ask) History Month. Which means February, like March, May, June, September, October and November, is a "specially designated month."

There are at least two ways to consider the peculiarity of designated months. If I am a glass-half-full, best-of-all-possible-worlds kind of person, I might say to myself, "Gee, isn't it wonderful that our inclusive society is making progress in welcoming all people under our rainbow-covered umbrella by attempting to raise public awareness of groups warranting such a designation?"

On the other hand, if I were the glass-half-empty type, or--depending on one's perspective--either a cynic or realist, I could grumble to myself, "This is just one more typical example of a hype-infused sop thrown to any marginal group by the ruling class in order to: Keep the proles in check; dwell on their differences in order to deter them from organizing a potent and unified political force; create the illusion of acceptance by a reluctant mainstream America (read white, acquisitive, gullible, uninformed, fearful) all the while maintaining real political power where it has historically rested."

But all that bitching and moaning has no entertainment quota whatsoever and so is consequently of questionable value. And besides, everybody knows African-Americans have made gigantic strides in America. Hey, just look at the NBA! I mean, geeez, Louise, some blacks have won all kinds of recognition, and what about Colin Powell or Clarence Thomas?

Don't annoy me with those statistics on the number of young black men in college compared to the number in jail. And don't interrupt my American Idol viewing to present facts and figures about the persistence of poverty, lack of health care or education and employment opportunities for black Americans. And I sure don't wanna hear any bull about racism percolating under the surface of a politically correct social veneer.

Come March, don't bother me with Women's History Month. I mean, really, women's history? Is that, like, a calendar marking off their menstrual cycle, or what? Besides, you can tell how successful women have been since they last took to the streets demanding their rights. Just look at the number of boardrooms and courthouses jammed with chicks in gray wearing killer spiked heels with toes so pointy they oughta be declared lethal weapons. Now if that's not a measure of success, I don't know what is.

By the time May rolls around, it will be too damn hot to be thinking about either of the two groups the month marks. Not only is it Older Americans Month, but also Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. I mean, do you really expect me to give 30 seconds of my attention to geezers? And just what is Asian/Pacific American anyway? Maybe it has something to do with California. Who knows?

It figures June would be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Don't tell me it's a coincidence they picked that month: All the better for recruiting our graduating children into their ranks. It's an abomination, I tell you, an abomination. Don't get me started; my blood pressure's already too high.

What I really don't understand is this business with September, National Hispanic Heritage Month. In the first place, I thought they were calling themselves Latino these days. Guess Latino Heritage Month could be considered a tad sexist. I mean, you couldn't have Latino/Latina Heritage Month, right? Come to the think of it, Latinas can celebrate in March. Uh, well, guess it would depend on which women's history.

October is designated National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and it has me totally flummoxed. Can someone please tell me how to employ a national disability? Or is this month about disabling employment? Damn, this is exhausting; pass the remote, will ya?

Finally, (whew) we get to November and, appropriately enough, what with Thanksgiving and all, National American Indian Heritage Month. What's a "National American" anyway? November has me at least as confused as October, maybe more. Do the Arawaks count?

The problem with specially designated months is that there are too few. I say it's way past time we have a Polish-American Heritage Month. I mean, how many folks even know where Poland is, or how many blando "American-sounding" names once ended in "ski?"

A must have is Children's Mind Month. We all get to celebrate by playing each day away pretending we're kids oblivious to what the "grown-ups" call special designations. And by the end of the month, if we've played and laughed really hard, we may discover there's no need for special designations at all.

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