Monday, February 02, 2004

Black History Month: A look forward

February is Black History month, a month that is both reviled and despised by some in this country. There are some whites who feel that this is "yet another undeserved, or unneeded handout to black people." Some people feel that this is special pandering to blacks that further confirms the "blackmail" that is being exacted upon the country as a whole for the slave trade. To many people, the "shame" of slavery is paralyzing us because to speak out against special consideration or acknowledgement of black oriented events is tantamount to racism.

I just want to say that when we look at the Black experience in America, it can be said that at one time, people thought that we had contributed nothing of any merit from 1619 to 1926. Hence, the start of Black History Week. Because it has gone through several changes, I think the the reason and the relevance for this observation has been lost. Though, I think the need for this event is more dire now than what it ever was. Like the cyclical trends in unemployment, crime, drug use, and lack of family stability. Hopelessness is also cyclical. I think that if we are ever to improve our situation, we have to instill more hope in our youth. Many black kids, despite the bravado and flash displayed on the street, have no hope for the future. If there is no hope, then why should anyone try for more. I think that it is incumbent on all of us to show our kids "real" contributions that blacks have made in our country, and further to show them the tremendous odds that people in our history have overcome in pursuit of these contributions.

While inventions and innovations are important, I think that we should steer clear of lists of "firsts" that include the pressing comb or the toothpick, but more toward firsts in politics, science, the arts, music and what have you.

This rationale should not be for needless self-promotion, or self-aggrandizement, but simply to say, "You can be anything you want as well." It is fine to not like your present situation, but you can do something about it. One thing that my father always desired for me was to be "more successful than him." While success can be measured a number of ways, I don't think I am there. But, I can say that I have had more opportunities for success than my father, because of the change in times, and the sacrifices that he made.

Lets just remember, Black History is all about our future. What matters most is how you want to proceed....

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