As a proud and intellectually curious man, I can say with all sincerity that black people, be they found in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Americas, have never been nor are they now “Niggers.” Black people have never been, nor are they now, collectively “shiftless,” “lazy,” “ignorant,” criminally pre-disposed “mendicants.” Black people have never been, nor are they now, “heathens” in need of “saving” by other races.
Black people, in fact, are not even really “black” in that pedantry considered, while the phrase came about during the ’60’s as a source of racial pride and power, the traditional English definitions of the word held and hold a different power, a limiting if not denigrating power as black is generally defined as being opposite of light or white; sad, gloomy, calamitous or despair.
You see, words, indeed, are powerful and if we know nothing else, the very notions of what we deem to be “history”–words in a textbook or from a teacher’s mouth— as far as what is included and more importantly, what is excluded from the same, remains quite telling.
As such, there is a reason that we, the people, have been taught and continue to teach half-truths and outright historical falsehoods, and it is because the maintenance of the Novus Ordo Seclorum, or the New World Order as ascribed on American money and as conceived by the early American Fathers, is that such requires an obfuscation of knowledge of the origins of mankind and even more poignantly, the origins of civilization and thoughts.
Former US Attorney General Robert Francis Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, once asked “But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?”
Indeed, what if God is black or African in appearance? And while believers may believe what they wish as far as “how” their deity looks, as for the Judeo-Christian, if we shun evolution and believe literally from the Torah and Bible that “God made man in his image,” and with science having proved that the first man and woman lived in Africa, well, logic holds that God, indeed, looks like the original Africans. I, for one, hold no issue with individuals believing that the God that they worship looks like them or their race–such is one’s prerogative. But like many Christians of African descent understand, there is a deeper reason that God, his Son Jesus and His Disciples, as well as the civilizations in North Africa–including Egypt–that pre-dated Jesus’ birth have been “white washed” in historical books and popular films. Again, the answer is because in order to control the masses of humanity, the dominant culture must control their subjects’ minds and while some pastors may hate to see me write this, while religion can be liberating, for far too long and among far too many people, religion has been, as Karl Marx once averred, the “opiate of the masses” that has been used to subjugate non-whites to the authority of whites across the Globe.
For that reason, it is important to note that even in the commercialization of Black History Month by corporations and school systems across the country, that what is taught–and how it is taught–is often mere symbolism and quite limiting in the macro. Yes, it is important to note that Rosa Parks gave up her seat on the bus, thus starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. But if children’s minds do not reach deeper into how Jim Crow began in the first place after the Civil War, it can be viewed or only understood in a vacuum.
Yes, It is important to note that George Washington Carver was a famous agronomist, researcher and inventor. But it is equally if not more important to know that when General William T. Sherman’s Field Order dedicating “40 Acres and a Mule” to newly freed blacks was scrapped, and when vanquished Confederates soon controlled farms in a peonage system known as sharecropping that was slavery by another name, then Carver’s inventions and the hard work–and underpaid work–by black farmers is not truly understood.
Yes, it is important to know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr “Had a Dream,” but in reciting that beautiful speech, if a student does not understand King’s nightmare–and the nightmares of millions of other blacks until the late 60’s who were routinely denied by law rights due to them by the US Constitution, then those words are hollow and devoid of their liberating grandiloquence.
But to delve even deeper, there is something even pernicious with the idea that Africans were devoid of any meaningful history before the advent of the Americas and Chattel Slavery. To ignore the kings and kingdoms of Sub-Saharan Africa, or to paint the pharaohs and queens of Egypt as white as Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Taylor, is telling and reinforces a sense of inferiority among the descendants of African people. More crucially, it also creates a false sense of superiority, however subtle it may be, among some descendants of Europeans who, when the Dark Ages ended and the Renaissance began, knew that in order for the pecuniary riches that were being staked in the “New World” to grow, that the same must be fostered by good, free labor.
Simply written, I, too, dream of a day in which “black” history is meshed into one and told in its complete form. But to do so requires that in this day of short attention spans and apathy, that the case is made as to how what once was, remains “what is.”
If you are concerned about black absentee fathers and the effect on crime and low education rates? See, for reference, slavery and how black families were rent asunder on the regular. See, also, the Great Society under President Lyndon Johnson and how certain government programs provided greater benefits to single, unwed mothers.
If you are concerned about low black educational achievement in many areas, consider that until 1865, it was a capital offense–punishable by death–for black slaves to learn how to read. Consider that as recent as the 1960’s, black schools were separate, unequal, underfunded and replete with sub-standard teaching materials and facilities.
Concerned that jails and prisons are filled with black men across America? Consider, then, how convict leasing after slavery became “slavery under a different name” arguably to this very day with the explosion of private for profit prisons. Or, how in many states across the south, laws were passed making non-violent offenses felonies for the purpose of allowing businessmen and sheriffs to get rich off of the free African-American labor.
If you are concerned that voter identification laws and the reduction of early voting hours have an impact on African-American voters, consider that the same are a mere recrudescence of poll taxes, literacy tests and other legal shenanigans that Southern Democrats of old–and Southern Republicans of today–use to dilute African-American voting power.
Even the mistreatment of former President Barack Obama, the first black man to live in a White House that was built by his daughter’s African ancestors (First Lady Michelle’s heritage), boils down to the fact that for some, the idea that an African-American has figuratively painted the White House Black is unsettling. This is not to say that all of the former president’s opponents despised him according to color, but dare I say that in my 45 years of living, most people typically are not candid with themselves as far as their true racial prejudices and biases.
Yes, if President Obama’s election was the crowning African-American achievement since the Civil Rights Movement, a position that I am willing to stake, then we have to consider that where he was limited in the eyes of some African-Americans is that by not having been raised in a traditional African-American home, where the peculiarities of both overt and subtle racism are taught from an early age, that such, at times, caused him difficulties with understanding how best to respond to certain issues. (See, for reference, his speeches to civil rights groups and even at Morehouse College in 2013 that have been criticized for “talking down” to African-Americans).
Clearly, the former POTUS, a constitutional law scholar by trade, understood and understands the theoretical aspects of race and racism. He knows the rank hypocrisy of his predecessor Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, whose eloquent words “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” did not apply to slaves in bondage–even his own enslaved children with Sally Hemings
But the end analysis is that from a theoretical standpoint, that the Framers of the Constitution, many of whom remain lovingly revered as paragons of Enlightenment, were dim in deeming fellow human beings 3/5 of a person for the purpose of counting the Census. Their wicked shortsightedness still reverberates across these United States, and Black History, whether during the designated month or throughout the year, serves to remind all of where this nation was–and where it remains as far as its citizens of a darker hue.