Happy Black History Month

Karol Collymore

Alright, I'm a little behind - it is the last day of Black History Month. Luckily, I had some Leap Year time to cover for me. I don't have anything profound to declare or any racial grudge to bear, just some reflections of the last 29 days.

I was always a BHM hater. I've thought of it as pandering to Blacks for not sharing our rich history in classrooms regularly. Not just Blacks mind you, but any other color than White and women. But as I've been looking through Black history for posts on my boss's website, I realize there is so much I haven't educated myself about. My bitterness had sown my own ignorance. I'm embarrassed that I let that happen and happy I have time to change it.

In my research of others' history, I found something out about myself. In the tiny Caribbean island of Barbados, I have an ancestor names Amaryllis who was a slave. She fell in love with a White man named Robert Collymore who himself owned slaves. He bought Amaryllis so he could be with her and upon his death, he left her everything he owned, including slaves and a lot of land. She became part of a unique power structure of free, wealthy women of color in that county. Amazing what you find when the cynical armor falls!

So, if you have time on this last day of Black History Month, do a little reading. Here's a good start.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    I was always a BHM (Black History Month) hater. I've thought of it as pandering to Blacks for not sharing our rich history in classrooms regularly.

    If ever a nation needed to do anything to improve the historical knowledge of its people, it is the United States. Much has been made of the political-geographical ignorance of the young American "idol" who thought Europe was a country. She has many thousands of people, young and old, who are just as ignorant in this field and history. In her recent book, "The Age of American Unreason," Susan Jacoby tells of two men she overheard talking in a bar about Pearl Harbor. One had never heard of it, so his companion explained it was when the Vietnamese attacked Pearl Harbor. In a sense, Ms. Jacoby's book is a history of the decline of American intelligence and the ascendancy of ignorance.

    Thanks for the very interesting link.

  • (Show?)

    Speaking of not knowing much about our past, Bill, it's really a myth that this ignorance is something new.

    America has always had those that were dumb as a post, its shallow fools who don't care to think about anything but pretty baubles and whats in front of them, it's societally accepted evil. In fact, by any neutral measure, the general American public is smarter, deeper, and more moral than we've ever been in the past. My goodness, we're about to nominate a black man to be President of the U.S.! 50 years ago, Barak Obama wouldn't have even been able to hail a cab.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    OPB ran a series in Feb. on Black History and genealogy, featuring prominent African Americans in various fields. Through the use of genetics they were able to trace their ancestry. The narrator and guide in this journey, (I forget his name) is an historian I believe. He was able to weave together historical archives and genetics (DNA matching) to put together the stories of many of these people. It was quite moving and interesting.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    In fact, by any neutral measure, the general American public is smarter, deeper, and more moral than we've ever been in the past.

    That's a very difficult statement to prove, especially when we consider the Vietnam war in which the American military killed an estimated 1.5 to 3 million Vietnamese, and our government has been supporting dictatorships around the world since shortly after the end of the Second World War and U.S. officials have been complicit in the murder and torture of people under oppression of those dictators. Then there is the ongoing crime against humanity in Iraq initiated by the Bush Administration and friends with the complicity of about three quarters of Congress and the American people.

    There are some areas in which we have become more civilized and humane, but Uncle Sam is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - capable of both good and evil. These things go in cycles, so a question might be, "Are we in a Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde phase at this time?"

    There are many episodes in American history that are not to this nation's credit, but I would submit few as bad as what have happened since, say, 1953 when the CIA in league with British intelligence overthrew the democratically-elected president of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh.

  • (Show?)

    I think you're proving my point, Bill. Look how far back in time you've had to go. 1953?

    America 150-200 years ago - Slavery legal, Genocide of indians typical, bear baiting for entertainment

    America 100-150 years ago - Sharecropping/Effective indentured servitude legal, wanton slaying of Chinese laborers typical, forced prostitution for entertainment

    America 50-100 years ago - Political disenfranchisement legal, lynching and/or murder of blacks in terrorist fashion typical (at least in the south), overt racism in entertainment

    America 0-50 years ago - Disenfranchisement reduced to a few marginal dirty tricks like caging (furtively done to avoid jail time), whites who commit murder avoid the death sentence more often than blacks, actresses still disproportionately (young and) white.

    Admittedly, there's still a lot of work to be done, but still America is nothing like it was even in the 1950s. Speaking of black history, I remember an article describing Will Smith learning the history of Muhammad Ali, what he had to go through such a short time ago, and being appalled.

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