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1.28.2009

DubiousThoughts: Black History 2.0



Well, kids, it is that magical time yet again. A time where elementary school teachers assign that ubiquitous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech project, McDonalds airs it slew of ‘365Black’ campaign commercials and white people everywhere are left constantly on edge, making damn sure not to disturb the cosmos with the slightest mention of anything remotely offensive.


Yep, you guessed it! It’s finally Black History Month.


But there is something different about this one, my brothers and sisters. I don’t see any Kwanzaa-inspired streamers hanging from the rafters of various campus buildings. No commemorative drum circle chats at Marion Square held by the same five, grungy, dreadlocked white kids that seem to know more about Bob Marley’s smoking habits than the Rastafarian culture that molded him.


Instead, there is a silence. A dead, eerily calm silence. This same silence, oddly enough, speaks volumes and volumes to those who take the time to listen enough: Black History Month has become a relic. An ancient, often times, mythic occurrence.


This spells both good and/or bad news depending on which side of the fence you sit.

For blacks, this can be seen as a chance to breathe a heavy sigh of relief, because you will not longer have to sit idly by and watch the same three documentaries centered around those timeless ‘turning points’ in your history: the American Slave Trade, Fredrick Douglass and anybody that had something to do with the Civil Rights Movement.


Adversely, being on the cusp of electing the first biracial president into the White House, blacks will also have the daunting task of trying to blaze a new trail, so to speak. A new generation has been given new responsibilities, so now there has to be a new set of breakthroughs, pioneers and heroes that were going to have to foster as a people.


Otherwise, there won’t be much material for the good folks over at Mickey D’s to work with now will there?


I haven’t forgotten about you, my beautiful, white brothers and sisters. You guys have a great deal of work ahead of you as well.


First and foremost, you are going to have to get rid of every pre-packaged, spoon-fed and user-friendly version of our history that you may (or may not) have stored in the nether regions of your mind. And as much as you would like to contest with us, Vanilla Ice is not, nor will he ever be, one of the top 5 rappers of our time.


Instead, take a minute or two out of your day and talk to us. Who? Us. Not the ones that you see on BET and MTV, shaking their posteriors and yelling about how their jewelry costs enough to purchase a small country, (Albeit, this is a part of our overall history, but like the drunk uncle that constantly comes to the family dinners, we choose not to talk about this part much), but the ones who you see almost everyday on your way to class: your classmates!

We are your best resource for the most up-to-date news, events and history when it comes to forming the ‘new school’ edition of our black history. We are ultimately the ones who will be left in charge when our superiors become our ancestors. So why wouldn’t you want to jump at the chance to get a first-edition copy of the ‘new, black history’?


Look, the point I’m trying to get across here is that if we as a nation are going to come to the sound agreement to set aside 29 whole days to focus on the cultural obstacles and achievements of a entire race, we might as well work together to make it, well, good!


But in order for that to happen, we must first set aside the time to sit down and actually open up a line of communication between each other because, believe it or not, there are some things about black people that listening to the entire Tupac discography or watching the movie, ‘Separate, But Not Equal’, will not teach you about us.

-BJW

3 comments:

xarkGirl said...

I just love this post.

I have no clue what it's like to be a young urban black man in charleston. I'm guessing you're not real in tune with being an after-40 white female raised in Columbia.

Just like you say, we all have prejudices and misconceptions -- some due to personal experience, but many due to mass media -- about what it means to be white or black, gay or straight, old or young.

Without the courage and freedom to talk about and explore our different perspectives, we'll just stay on the polite (or not-so) opposite sides.

I really believe that writing about it will prompt thought and discussion that will prompt change. Thanks for going there.

Brian J. Wilder said...

Thank you very much for that comment.

I just wish that there was more of an open dialogue between different groups.

I think that conversation alone would be amazingly stimulating.

-BJW

Rich Harris said...

This was an excellent post. I'm following you on 12seconds as well.

I think it's important to continue to address this stuff. We all have misconceptions about other groups because it's human nature to fear something that we are not already a part of socially. I catch myself being afraid all the time....and for what?

Keep on keepin' on. I appreciate what you have to say and your straightforwardness about it.

Peace,
Rich