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This one will likely get me in hot water
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Author:  Colston Newton [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  This one will likely get me in hot water

February is upon us and it has for some time now been designated “Black History Month.” Recently it has occurred to me that designating such a month is, despite all the good intentions of whoever thought it up, injurious to black children.

Everybody else in America is included to a greater or lesser extent in the general history of America. By setting aside a month for black history aren't we telling black youngsters that their people weren't part of the great story that made our country? That, without a set aside, their folks didn't contribute enough to be noticed? It's not so and, if the books the schools use in the general history courses suggest as much by mentioning black American very little, they need rewriting.

When I was very young back in the early 1950s, my grandmother signed me up for the Landmark Book of the Month Club. The books were biographies of Americans who'd made a difference. The books covered heroes such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It also include Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver and Charles P. Steinmetz. Honestly, I never finished the books on Jefferson and Booker T. Washington. Books about thinkers make for boring biographies. Carver and Steinmetz, however, caught my attention. Steinmetz was a sawed off little German immigrant hunchback who made alternating electricity useful. Carver created about 300 ways to use peanuts, including peanut butter. Carver's story has stuck with me. It was exciting.

Carver was born a slave and his mother was stolen by night riders when he was a child. Still, he became a great scientist.

When, as a child, I read about Carver, I knew he was black, I knew he was a slave, but I just accepted that as his starting point. As I read about him, his race never entered into my thoughts. He was an American who made significant contributions to the public.
As I look at Black History Month, I wonder why people like Carver aren't simply folded in with our great panorama. It wouldn't require much to include a section on rural poverty that mentions how Carver's work with peanuts helped people stay alive.

You can go back to the beginnings. The black folks are there.

One of the first men killed in the lead up to the Revolution was a free black, Crispus Attucks, who was shot by the British in the Boston Massacre in 1770. At the Battle of the Brandywine in 1777 “Black Samson” defended his position with a scythe and did terrible execution among the English. York went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark. The Buffalo Soldiers opened the West and were there with the Rough Riders when they took San Juan Hill. One of the real American heroes at Pearl Harbor was Dorie Miller, a black Navy cook who took over a machine gun on the USS West Virginia when she was under attack. The Red Ball Express that kept Patton's drive across France supplied was driven by black Americans. The Tuskeegee Airmen never lost a bomber they were protecting to a German fighter plane. Thurgood Marshall wasn't just the first black Supreme Court justice, he was an extraordinarily entertaining and witty man; brave, too. All that can be told right along with the rest of the history.

Maybe Black History Month was something we needed at one time. The black newspapers, for example, celebrated Miller's heroism but the white papers didn't make as big a story of it. Now, however, he and his heroism were a major part of a recent big budget movie about Pearl Harbor. American life has changed. It's become integrated. Maybe its time to integrate American history, too. With Black History Month, it's still separate. I'm not so sure it is still needed and not at all sure that at this point in our development as a people it doesn't do more harm than good.

Author:  Rancid C. [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Colston, you're ahead of your time.

Author:  Colston Newton [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Interesting you would say that, John. A man for whom I have great respect told me once I was the most complete 19th century man he'd ever met.

Author:  Buxtehude [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Squire,
You've surely earned you pay from the newspaper for this column. Keep us posted as to the varied responses that are sure to come in, be it in the form of Letters to the Editor, and even the garbled, booze-flavored, crank calls at 1:00 AM. You are right on the mark, and, you are high-lighting the positives rather than simply coddling the cranks. You've also likely ruffled enough feathers from those who need some ruffling...or a kick in the slats. Stay positive and you'll win big.

As an aside, since the Boston Revolutionary era was raised....I recently was enlightened as to why the Boston Tea Party so upset the British. Did you know that in today's dollars, the lads in Boston dumped over...ready for the numbers? In today's cash, over a million dollars worth of fine English tea was dumped into the harbor.

Bux

Author:  Dr. Trout Bum [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Colston,

I agree with what you've written.

Author:  Further North [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Spot on, IMO.

...You will get labeled a racist by some people...ignore them.

Author:  Dr. Trout Bum [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Further North wrote:

...You will get labeled a racist by some people...ignore them.



Not very difficult these days.

Author:  Oldfrat [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

One of your best, Colston!

Brad

Author:  Doug G [ Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Very good Colston.

Author:  Rancid C. [ Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: This one will likely get me in hot water

Colston Newton wrote:
Interesting you would say that, John. A man for whom I have great respect told me once I was the most complete 19th century man he'd ever met.


The goal you describe would require a post-racial society. At some point in the far distant future, that may happen. For now, group identity politics have been institutionalized in government policy. Too many people are making a living reinforcing the differences between racial groups, rather than emphasizing our similarities.

If it makes any difference, you would have been ahead of your time in the 19th Century too.

John

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