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Black History Month

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by FilterFunk, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    I’ve been thinking about the ill-fated Black History Month thread here in TBOT. I didn’t get a chance to post in that thread, but Black History Month is something that I consider to be very important, so I felt the need to address it, especially since February is coming to an end. I’ll keep it as brief as I can:

    I was born in 1962, so I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Back then, American black history as taught in public schools was basically slavery, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. It was easy for any American, regardless of race, to think that black people had done little more for this country than pick cotton. I remember pictures on the walls of the Sunday School at my church depicting great African-Americans like pioneering surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1856 – August 4, 1931) and thinking, “Black people could be doctors back then?! And not just doctors – SURGEONS!!!” It was a tremendous lift for my spirit, and it made me want to learn more, even if public school didn’t teach such things. The feeling had nothing to do with scientific racial classification; you knew who was considered “black.” It’s too deep to be scientifically quantifiable, categorizable, or classifiable. I’m not being anti-science; I’m just saying certain historical perceptions and attitudes are just too ingrained into American society to be neatly solved.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans of any color still don’t know about Elijah McCoy, Garrett Morgan, Louis Latimer, Granville Woods, Dr. Charles R. Drew (please Google them if you’re unfamiliar; I’m trying to keep this relatively brief), and so many others, or the fact that African-American soldiers have fought valiantly in EVERY war America has ever fought, including the Revolutionary War (blacks in the military didn’t start with Vietnam, though for many decades that’s all that was openly chronicled).

    I honestly believe that if more Americans had a deeper knowledge of black history, it would somewhat improve race relations in America. It’s a lot harder to dismiss people once you have a much better understanding of how much they’re contributed to society under the most difficult circumstances.

    And that’s why Black History Month continues to be important and relevant.
    DirtDog, Arvin, BassPilot and 33 others like this.
  2. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Public school text books left a lot to be desired, I look at it this way......everyday is a chance to learn, Dr. King wanted to teach us the best lesson of all and that is judge a person by the content of they're character and not by the color of there skin or outward appearance. Its a message I have tried to live my life by. The best bumper sticker I ever saw said " the truly educated never graduate "
    ptg, slobake, FilterFunk and 6 others like this.
  3. the harp unstrung

    the harp unstrung What would Fred Rogers do? Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2014
    On The Bus
    MY favorite bumper sticker:
    “Prejudice Rarely Survives Experience”.

    If some of these Suits would sit down to a meal with some of our newest Immigrants, they would Know in their hearts that xenophobia belongs buried...

    ...that the color of a person’s skin...the language they grew up speaking...their definition of God... mean nothing.

    It’s ALL about “the content of their character”. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
    LiquidMidnight, ptg, slobake and 6 others like this.
  4. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    slobake, mellowinman and FilterFunk like this.
  5. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I agree. There is such a strong undercurrent of racism in this country, and that is where some of the apathy towards Black History comes from. Black History has been largely omitted from AMERICAN history, and it's never too late to foster its growth. I was born only a year later than you, and raised in a state (MN) where people believe we are a lot of forward thinking, open-minded tolerant people. However, I was raised in a somewhat racist construct, and I feel it took something away from my own individual freedom. People don't understand that diversity helps each of us grow and learn, and become a fully realized human being.

    Black History Month is indeed important and relevant, and hopefully that understanding will help carry it through the other 11 months of the year.
    ICM, ptg, slobake and 5 others like this.
  6. farace


    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    I hope you'll permit me to offer something for Black History Month. Sometimes you have history standing in front of you and don't even realize it. This was the case with a friendly acquaintance of mine, artist Barkley Hendricks. Barkley passed away almost a year ago. I would run into him about once a year. In the past I had the privilege of jamming with him (he claimed not to be much of a trumpet player, but I think he was being modest). He seemed to be an embodiment of jazz; he vibrated cool. In the years I knew him I knew he was an artist, and I knew he was a professor of art at a local college. He was quiet and unassuming, not boastful, and so it wasn't until after his passing that I began to know his standing in the art world. Please click on the link, and if you like what you see, Google his name and you'll find video interviews and more articles.

    I miss him.

    Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool - Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  7. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    Thank you!
    FilterFunk likes this.
  8. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    Ditto :)

    Listening in again, this fell into my lap, so-to-speak, this arvo, and it really warmed my heart, to put it mildly :) Timely to be sure, this is Alice Walker's kid so history's at the centre of this, as she talks about her experience, now a tangible part of our history.

    I won't leave a link because this story isn't for everyone. But, I think you'll be able to find it, if you're interested :thumbsup:
    FilterFunk likes this.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Great post. Just a couple of thoughts:

    As far as what's meant by "race," nuance is needed. It's true that there's no scientific, physical or genetic meaning to the "racial" categories we use. Humanity does not come handily divided up into neat, separate categories of black, white and Asian. That doesn't mean "there's no such thing as race" - it means that our "racial" categories are social constructs, categories that WE impose on each other and on ourselves to define social groupings, based on criteria that are at least partly arbitrary. Being social rather than genetic categories, the groupings are flexible and can shift and morph over time. But they're also very persistent in practice and therefore form very powerful realities in people's lives.

    I would also comment that the neglect of some topics, like black history, can be the product of overt racism and often has been (when I had to bone up on this stuff, I was appalled at the paradigms that were still in scholarly use down to the 50s and even the 70s or 80s). Even after removing racism from the picture, though, there are also other factors that can result in the neglect of a topic in the curriculum. Most basically, history teachers have a finite amount of time in which to teach a virtually infinite subject - all of human experience over thousands of years. That forces you to select and prioritize. You're only going to be able to hit a few highlights. So, for instance, you bring up the example of a pioneering black surgeon from the 19th century. That's great - but in a college survey class, I don't even mention anything having to do with the history of medicine at all, except possibly Eugenics, sorta. There just isn't time, and too much else to do. A lot of black history gets lost in the shuffle.

    Another feature that can weigh against where a lot of black history would appear is the "great men" approach to history. You can broaden it out to "great persons," of course, and make an effort to make sure you don't default into it being "dead white male" history. But if one's teaching approach is to focus on a handful of prominent persons, then inevitably that handful will include only a limited number of blacks, and you pretty much wind up with Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman and MLK Jr. You can do much better by avoiding the "great persons" approach altogether and take a more bottom-up "total history" approach, which is probably, IMO, better history in the first place. Then you can talk more fully about the role of race in America (or anywhere else you're studying, for that matter). But then also you won't be highlighting individual figures all that much.

    All of which is really to say that I do think Black History Month is a beneficial observance, though in many ways probably more useful in a paracurricular than curricular way; special speakers, library programs, documentaries on TV, things like that all are part of the lifelong-learning process that are important to our historical consciousness.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I think if people actually studied history, and judged people because of what they did, not what they looked like, there would be a lot more equality for everyone. Color/sex/race/age/disability/ etc. is irrelevant.
  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Irrelevant to how you should judge people, yes. Irrelevant to history, no, precisely because those things are major factors in human experience that need to be understood. The whole field of "social history" is how communities categorize their members into groups and manage relations among the different categories, by assigning various privileges or burdens to each.
    knumbskull, bass12, petrus61 and 3 others like this.
  12. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    When I went to school there was very little said about black history and the contributions they made building the country. It was only about 18 years ago that I even heard of the Tuskegee Airmen. Since then, I have attended several lectures at flight museums where actual Tuskegee pilots spoke of their experience flying P-51's in WWII and the uphill battle they had becoming fighter pilots. There is a little airport in Compton, CA. They have a small museum in one of the hangers dedicated to the Airmen. Also, they have an after school program so the local kids can get exposed to aviation and have role models to inspire them. If you get a chance, stop on by.

  13. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Excellent points, hrodbert696. But even considering the finite amount of time in the classroom, it would have been nice to hear just one story about the Tuskegee Airmen or the 761st Tank Battalion, if only to whet our appetites for learning more on our own.

    Taking it out of the classroom, and keeping the focus on the military, imagine if the powers-that-be in the armed forces decades ago had chosen to offer more newsreels of non-white soldiers and pilots in combat fighting bravely for America. Then imagine movie theaters being willing to show those newsreels. It wouldn't have to be at the expense of not showing brave white soldiers and pilots; it would have simply served as brief reminders that non-whites were essential to the war effort in battle, and not just in kitchens and stockyards (even though those jobs were also essential). Then perhaps the newspapers might have been willing to print the stories, and in that way all of America would have been made aware of the brave contributions of black and other non-white members of the military. Unfortunately, Americans of color have historically been considered less patriotic; if people could have been made aware of non-white military valor throughout this country's history, it might have gone a long way toward changing America's collective attitude and perception.

    I understand that the racial climate at the time prevented these things from happening, but that's why there is a specific focus on black history even to this day.

    EDIT: While I was writing this post, @Stewie26 had already posted about the Tuskegee Airmen. Kudos, Stewie26!:thumbsup:
  14. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    It SHOULD BE irrelevant. That doesn't make it so.
  15. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    Did you learn about the Battle of Brisbane? Quite an eye-opener.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    My point was that a person's color, sex, race, religion, etc. should not matter for their ability to get a job, a house, or in any way live their life. I've spent two decades fighting, both professionally and personally, for equal rights for all.

    The real shame is there shouldn't have to be a Black History Month - the study of African-American history IS part of American history.

    As MLK said, judge by the content of character, not color of skin.
  18. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    So I don't know if this is appropriate for this thread or not, but I wanted to share something.

    I met a lady awhile back, her name is not Cindy, but we'll say it is. She's very attractive, and her and I had an immediate chemistry, and we became very close friends. I did a photo shoot for her family reunion, run by her dad, whose name is not Carl Sr, but we'll say it is. Cindy and I had that chemistry, but I was concerned about her being too young, or me being too old, and the kicker was, I really liked Carl Sr right away. He's a good man; involved with his family, and a year younger than I. I knew I could not date this man's daughter, but I really love her, so we have forged on in our close friendship, which has turned into the kind of love you have for family. Cindy is family; Carl Sr is family; Cindy's mom who isn't named Cathy but we'll call her that is family; the whole bunch of them have become family to me.

    Now there is a young man, whose name is not Carl Jr, and he's a cool young man, and when I say I was raised in a racist construct, I don't mean "racist" like hating people; I mean "stereotype people." Carl Jr. Black man. Lives in a tough city neighborhood. Smokes a blunt now and then; drinks a 40; holds up his fingers in certain "signs" in every photo he's in; runs with a motley group of guys wearing gold chains, low waistlines and listening to loud hip hop. Carl Jr died young, and in the group I knew as a teen, they would think his death was caused by drugs or guns or gang activity or something, but it wasn't like that.

    Carl Jr. got the flu. He had the flu, and he was sleeping on his dad's couch. He had pneumonia, and I don't know if he knew it or not, but he stopped breathing.

    So Cindy, being my close friend, had a favor to ask of me. She gave me a ton of photos of Carl Jr, and a list of songs, and asked me to make a video for the memorial service. I made what I think is a pretty good video. Cindy and Carl Sr had some input on the editing. It's about 40 minutes long, and I burned it to DVD and made copies for various family members, and I brought it to the church, and went upstairs to where they have the AV booth, and I made sure the pictures and sound worked, and they played it throughout the wake and the funeral, and the family thanked me, and I shared there experience of mourning a man who died far too young, and left three kids behind.

    I don't know if any of you have ever been to a Baptist Funeral, but from my observations, it seems like generally Black People are a lot more in touch with their emotions than White People, and I have never seen such a strong sense of family and community, and felt like I was very personally sharing this family's pain, and I cried a lot. I didn't know Carl Jr well. I had met him. I liked him. He had a nice smile, and he seemed like a good guy, but more than that, I dearly love his sister, his dad and his mom, and I had his kids at my house crying last week, so I felt pretty connected.

    I regret the stereotypes I have learned, some of them from well-meaning people who would not consider themselves racist at all. I believe I have largely shed them, but make no mistake; I was raised in 1960s White Suburbia, and had limited exposure to different ethnicity. In my opinion, there's still a lot for us to overcome as human beings, and sometimes we get lucky enough to meet other human beings and share their experiences, such as I have done with this family; photographing their family events over the past couple of years; being invited into their homes and hearts; and sadly, having to share their pain at the loss of a man who I genuinely wish was still here on Earth, but is not.

    February is Black History month, and it's the month we have Valentines Day, and on this particular Valentines Day, a good man left this planet, and the people who he left behind reacted with tears, and love.
    Sav'nBass, ICM, hrodbert696 and 3 others like this.
  19. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I'm still waiting on Jewish History month, and Chinese History Month, for two glaring cases of non recognition. Why are other creeds/races/etc. ignored (perhaps, reverse discrimination)? Why only Black History Month?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  20. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I watched that movie too. Not because I wanted to know more about black folks in the history of the USA, but because I like Cuba Gooding Jr.
    I have indifferent feelings about all of this. I feel like setting aside a month to honor black folks is condescending. Same with the various museums I've seen. Patronizing might be a word I'd use too.


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