Black History Month?
After four decades, Black History Month remains controversial.
What is your position? Should the celebration remain unchanged? Should the commemoration of African-American milestones be spread throughout the year? Or should a color-blind, seamlessly integrated timeline of the accomplishments of all races and cultures be America’s goal?
I took it upon myself to ask a collection of presidential candidates, government spokespersons and media pundits for their gut instincts on Black History Month. Any connection you draw between these unguarded, off-the-cuff comments and specific individuals are entirely up to you.
One speaker confided, “I see America as a land of equal opportunity, where if your father and your brother got to live in a white house — or casa blanca — with a rose garden, you have an equal opportunity to do so as well.”
Another political mover and shaker proclaimed, “Gone are the days when blacks were regarded as less than human. Oh, hey, could you JUMP THROUGH THESE HOOPS for me before registering to vote?”
One official shared, “It’s a national disgrace that blacks had to sweat in the hot sun picking cotton. According to the U.S. Constitution, ethanol production would have been a much better choice.”
Bold assertions were common. (“I’m sure if I had been president in the 1860s, I would have done exactly what Abraham Lincoln did — except without the whole ‘boots on the ground’ thing. And beards and stovepipe hats? Can you PAY a focus group enough to like presidents with beards with stovepipe hats?”)
One interviewee opined, “Booker T. Washington. W.E.B. Du Bois. The Tuskegee Airmen. Today’s African-Americans stand on the shoulders of giants. Speaking of that, I wish you’d stoop a little. I can’t see my reflection in the mirror.”
Comments included, “And I truly believe that steel-driving man John Henry would have laid down his hammer and died much more peacefully if someone had slipped him some medicinal marijuana — and the knowledge that his opponent the steam-powered hammer would eventually be denied its supply of coal.”
One leader agreed, “I don’t know where America would be today without the contributions of black citizens. Um, I’m not even sure where America is today WITH the contributions of black citizens. Geography is not my strong suit. I just know I can see Beijing from my front porch. You bet’cha.”
I couldn’t resist recording the observation, “I don’t really know what to say about this ‘Roots’ remake on TV. I know that I’ve done an exhaustive search of ‘TV Guide’ and not a single writer would ever come out and say definitively that this Kunta Kinte guy was not Canadian.”
Posterity needs to know, “Of course, with a concealed carry permit, Rosa Parks could have had the whole &^%$# bus. I’m just saying.”
A progressive respondent argued, “I know they called the Sidney Poitier character MISTER Tibbs, but I think he should have been allowed to use the girls’ shower if that was how he rolled.”
Celebrate black history, even if hidden agendas do tend to creep into politicians’ praises. “I have no doubt that, if he was alive today, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would declare, ‘I have been to the mountaintop — I had to climb there to escape the rising ocean levels predicted by heretofore wildly inaccurate computer models. Any day now, the polar bears will be floating into the Promised Land. Any day now…”