How many of us could tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month? Or how many people could tell you that February is American Heart Month? How many people could tell you that April is Genocide and Awareness Prevention Month? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that is not typically common knowledge for most of the general public. This month is representative of genocide awareness and advocacy, but it would be shocking to see how little people recognize this time of the year as a prevention and awareness month.
“Most people don’t know much about genocide. The word didn’t even exist until it was coined in the 1940s”
This quote comes from an MPR news article about the formation of Genocide Awareness month. April appears to be a severe month for acts of Genocide and destruction. April has become the signifying month of many events that have triggered the acts of inhumane cruelty that have been set off and perpetuated over the past few decades. In April, 1994, the Rwandan president’s plane crashed which triggered the beginning of Genocide against hundreds of thousands. In April, 2003, the Darfur region of Sudan was attacked. Even more historical implications include the Ottoman government’s persecution of the Armenian population in April, 1915. These acts of violence have been historically influential in the perpetuation and influence of genocide.
Because genocide has been identified as needing some sort of public declaration of recognition, individual US states have begun initiatives to use April as an awareness month. In 2011, Minnesota took the initiative to designate April as a Genocide and Awareness Prevention Month. Since, New Hampshire, Texas, and California have also passed similar legislation about spreading awareness for Genocide in the month of April. Genocide is evidently making it’s way into some policies, but it is an issue that deserves the spotlight of national recognition.
Yet one of the biggest barriers to this national awareness is exactly that, the lack of awareness. How ironic is it that an month dedicated to awareness needs awareness? My point in mentioning this is that it is incredibly valuable to have an entire month dedicated to understanding and acknowledging the vicious acts of crime and violence that have been perpetrated on innocent humans. Not only is it cathartic and comforting for refugees to be able to dedicate a month to the hardships that they have come from, but awareness months have also brought extreme movements and fundraising for causes that are detrimental to human health and well-being. For example, Breast Cancer Awareness month raises millions each year for research and advocacy. Why is it that Genocide does not receive this type of attention? The simple answer to the previous question is the quote listed below, also found from the same MPR news article.
“Most people feel that preventing genocide is far beyond anything they can do as ordinary individuals. Yet it is exactly ordinary individuals who have the power to prevent genocide.”
The population does not believe that we can solve the problem. It appears to be something “too big” for us to attack. Well, that right there exemplifies the lack of awareness that perpetuates the problem. For those who are aware of the issue, you understand that it is actually the individual who makes the difference in this tragedy. Spreading awareness is like a chain or domino effect. Your awareness influences others to raise awareness and eventually, we are all aware, knowledgeable, and ready to take action. It is the awareness that gives hope for this global issue.
So why not give April some fame? Not for the rainy showers that bring May flowers or the diamond birthstone, but for awareness for a catastrophe that needs a voice.