The OFFICIALunOFFICIAL English Bulldog Mascot

That’s Why We Pout

In Children's Literacy, History, K-12 Education, Popular Music on February 6, 2011 at 8:00 AM

A good paraphrase by denseatoms

American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) actually said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (from “Life of Reason I”).

That’s the argument fur African American History Month. It’s the argument fur setting aside time to commemorate The Holocaust as well. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

Sounds a lot like the thinking behind slavery, the slave trade and the stubbornly enduring legacy of social and economic inequality of Blacks in America:

1662 Virginia enacts a law of hereditary slavery meaning that a child born to an enslaved mother inherits her slave status.

1664 The State of Maryland mandates lifelong servitude for all black slaves. New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Virginia all pass similar laws.

1682 Virginia declares that all imported black servants are slaves for life.

1705 The Virginia Slave Code codifies slave status, declaring all non-Christian servants entering the colony to be slaves. It defines all slaves as real estate, acquits masters who kill slaves during punishment, forbids slaves and free colored peoples from physically assaulting white persons, and denies slaves the right to bear arms or move abroad without written permission.

1740 South Carolina passes the comprehensive “Negro Act,” making it illegal for slaves to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise food, earn money, and learn to read English. Owners are permitted to kill rebellious slaves if necessary.

1857 The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sanford denies citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves and denies Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories.

1861 Slaves seeking refuge with Northern forces are considered “contraband of war.” The First Confiscation Act is passed, declaring all property used in support of rebellion, including slaves, subject to capture.

You get the picture. The Holocaust lasted about 12 years from 1933 to 1945. When the American’s liberated the Holocaust victims at the end of WWII, that effectively was the end of the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews in Europe.

Slavery, on the other hand, went on and on and on and on and on, from the 1400’s to 1865 when The thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution formally abolished slavery throughout the country. On paper, anyway. Then came the clever incarnations from 1865 to 1975– The Black Code, Jim Crow, Segregation– with a smattering of bright spots of hope sprinkled in:

1868 The fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. It gives all native born and naturalized persons citizenship and gives blacks equal protection under the law.

1870 The fifteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, securing the right to vote for black adult males, neither of which were fully realized until Lyndon Johnson signed them into law in the 1960’s.

African American History Month is no more about holding anything against any one state or individual than the Holocaust Museum is about hatin’ on Germany. It’s about respect. It’s about a sober reflection on the violence and injustices of the past and having a shared goal of not repeating them or allowing them a fertile space to grow again.

Blacks don’t need to apologize or be ashamed of slavery but they are. No one even wants to talk about it, especially the Black community.  In spite of the best efforts of James Brown, Afro’s and dashikis,  shame and self loathing remain the untreated toxic waste of  400 years of slavery  and 80 years of social and economic injustice and inequality in America. Whites immediately feel  angry and threatened. Blacks are “holding it against” them.

It is this paranoid impediment to meaningful and constructive conversation that retards real social change and keeps us back tracking to hold on to advances already hard won with blood, sweat, tears, and blood. We’re just running in place now, not growing, not moving forward toward fundamentally changing attitudes. Just laws.

Meanwhile, it’s still hard fur Blacks to live in America, to be successful in America, to engage in the Pursuit of Happiness in America without the specter of fear and dread. Still. In 2011. For every Oprah, and there appears to be only one (?), there are a million not-Oprah. Just because Oprah exists does not mean racial harmony and equality and opportunity reign in America.

American Blacks may not all be collectively crying out for justice and equality and opportunity like they did in the 50’s and 60’s, but fur 28 days, we should be allowed to pout about it at least without having to ease your conscience because you feel “awkward.” You should feel something besides upset African Americans and empathetic others want to talk to and engage with one another. No one is holding anything against anyone. It takes all the energy we have to hold on to what we got.

Goodwill Energies I project
Upon Each and Every one of you
Each and every day!

Let Brotherly Love continue… Heb 13:1  Or Let’s get it STARTED at least! 28 days. African American History Month.

“And there came to be evening and there came to be morning…”

That’s life today!

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