09 February 2014

Black History Month: An Ongoing Catalyst For The Emerging Body Of African Diasporic Scholarship

 Is there a need for Black History Month? It seems that every year for a number of decades, the question lends to an ongoing debate that can be empowering or dismissed by many.  It usually depends on the political, financial or cultural leanings of the various populations.  There are those who bother to have an opinion on the topic or have a vested interest in promoting it.  

As a member of the latter group, these lovely drawings of young girls are symbolic of why I'm committed to maintaining the celebration of black history.  Our descendants not only deserve the practice but the ongoing scholarship it evokes.  We aren't post racial by any means. Our tribe in America continues to be victimized by the phenomenon of cyclic inequality. It seems that we take moderate strides  in the fight for human rights and equality only to face  familiar as well as contemporary  barriers. The latter has been covert on many fronts and since the election  of a two-term African-American President; these obstacles have become more apparent.   Another consideration is that we've never really made substantial gains and given our history in this country; some of us are content with the symbolism and "insufficient fund checks".

To take this further, there are the apologists and those who've made the pursuit of African/American history a crusade and have done quite well in the academic and elitist arenas.  They depend on considerable funding to travel, research and to give their assessments of historical inadequacies, revisionism and undisputed facts.  I've referenced two videos in which Professor Louis Henry Gates lectures about the latter and I can't help but discern that he engages in the the 'kick-stroke' technique in how he presents his findings dependent on the venue. There is confirmation of the atrocities of the slave trade, institutional racism and with little regard for the victims;{ those who were introduced to a hell on earth} he nervously chuckles as he spoke of the African leaders who were supplying their people into the inferno of enslavement. As we learn more about the paradox of the slave trade; it becomes very uncomfortable for the psyche with the added knowledge that there were  blacks who fought for the confederacy and who owned slaves. 

According to Gates, they weren't just family and there was resistance to giving up this economically viable system.  Within a 20th century context, the latter seems unfathomable but painfully true.  There are modern day versions of that mindset and as we learn over and over again; the betrayals are abound of those who look like us but have no regard for the group.  Extreme individualism and growing pockets of inter-racial relationships, families and communities who in their zest to promote color blindness have inadvertently contributed to the current white supremacist dismissiveness and backlash.  As Dr. Gates quotes Dr. West that 'we are all recovering racists'. My interpretation is that, it's a human condition, therefore, don't carry the burden of one of the most dehumanizing systems (approx. 4 centuries) followed by terrorism, segregation, second class citizenship and the ongoing fight for rights that are inherently ours. For we are human beings.  We don't need Spenser Wells: Building A Family Tree For All Humanity on genetics to give credence to the latter. It's a long and tired road; this ongoing effort to prove that we are  homo sapiens sapiens!

 As indicated above, the following are 2 video shorts of Dr. Gates' talks and a link to an interview with his daughter Elizabeth which is far less  gratuitous.  Again, the venue determines the amount of truth telling.  

I had, initially planned to address my concerns about Dr. Gates' latest PBS special; THE AFRICAN AMERICANS: MANY RIVERS TO CROSS .
However, Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda did a review that reflected some of my views and is worthy of a perusal;"A More Perfect Union": Historian Henry Louis Gates Mangles, Obscures Black History.

There is a troubling trend as more facts are revealed about our vast and complex history that border on skewed revisionism and unfortunately, facts that cannot be repudiated by renowned and respected historians. I've read Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka's moving and searing essays on Africa's despicable role in sending her offsprings into different parts of the world to undergo the most trying, revolting and dehumanizing of mass enslavements that the world has recorded.  The saying, "Discomfort is always a necessary part of enlightenment" by Pearl Cleage rings true for those of us who've gone through all the stages of Pan-Africanism as well as others in their quest for historic truths.

What we must not forget as we sift and research in the pursuit of hidden truths and the wrongs of the past are  the victims.  We spend significant time in casting blame and accepting it, however, those who paid the consequences of those actions should not be forgotten and their stories must be told.  I truly believe in the adage that in order to understand the present and the implications for the future; the past must be examined and re-examined to aid in finding more humane solutions to our current global and domestic societal inequities.  Our descendants deserve these ongoing efforts and whatever catalysts at our disposal to disseminate this information for they are still suffering from the psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical consequences of the past and yes--current warmongering and oppression.  Black History Month serves as just one of many forums for doing so.


Sid Silhouette Johnson said...

Excellent article. I was thinking about you the other day. I really enjoy reading your works. They provide so much insight.

Carolyn Moon said...

Thank you Sid. And I appreciate your
visits and feedback.!

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