That’s right, folks, it’s Black History Month (known as “February” to racist whites). NJ.com gets us off to a strong start with the same old story we’ve been told for years. Here’s the article, with my comments in bold.
Rutgers Today talked to Khadijah White about why Black History Month is important as the university plans a series of events in observance. White, an assistant professor of journalism and media studies in the School of Communication and Information, researches race, gender and politics in media.
Why is Black History Month relevant?
There has long been a contention among student and teacher activists that educators in this country, who are predominantly white, would not teach about black history at all if it weren’t for people explicitly setting aside space and time for it. Now, at least for this month, students can learn about how African-Americans quite literally built this society and provided its foundation in so many ways. [This is preposterous because it implies differentiation of “histories” on the basis of race, which is an objectively ridiculous assertion (it reminds me of the Strong Programme, that self-parody of postmodern philosophy). If I were to study African history, I would likely find myself primarily focused on individuals and peoples who are black. Likewise, if I were to study European history, I would just as likely find myself focused on individuals and peoples who are white. Regarding American history, it’s more of a mixed bag, but the biggest players in our history have been white. Now, if someone could make a well-reasoned case that aspects of our history centered on blacks are given disproportionately less attention than they deserve based on the significance of the relevant historical events, that would be worth talking about. But that never seems to happen.]
American history has been shaped around the marginalization and exclusion of African-Americans in many arenas. As a result, there are lots of obstacles that have kept African-Americans from being fully integrated or recognized in American history. [This is, or at least was, true.] Their accomplishments have often been occluded. Take technological invention, for instance. Black inventors often didn’t get credit for their inventions, and when they did manage to get patents, white inventors often tried to steal them. Granville Woods, for instance, an engineer and inventor with more than 50 patents to his name, often had to fight off attempts by white inventors to steal his patents. [Engineers fighting over intellectual property rights is certainly not an exclusively inter-racial fixture of the technological world.] Woods is often called “the black Edison,” which I think is really a shame.
What are the most important issues Americans should be discussing during Black History Month?
We should reflect on how far we’ve come – and we’re really good at that – but also on how short we’ve fallen. One of the reasons for the recent popularity of the movie “Selma,” one of the reasons it strikes a chord with so many Americans, is that it reminds us that the issues that people were fighting for back in 1965 are still relevant now – voting rights, in particular. Some parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have been cut back, and the “voter ID” laws being proposed and passed in many states are a new way to make it more difficult for people to vote. [This is ridiculous. The voter ID laws simply require one to present photo identification prior to voting. I have to present photo identification to purchase a bottle of whiskey. The fact that many blacks are incredibly dysfunctional and consequently lack state-issued photo ID is not evidence of discrimination. Disparate impact does not prove, or even imply, disparate treatment.]
Incarceration is another – there are now more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850. [And we’re supposed to assume — in the absence of any evidence — that this is due to systemic racism, rather than accept the simpler explanation which is consistent with daily experience that this follows from the fact that blacks commit crimes at a rate disproportionate to their percentage of the population.] And the decline of public education, another major issue during the civil rights movement, has turned these sacred institutions into school-to-prison pipelines. [Again, how can this be attributed to racism?]
What’s the most important thing African-Americans are saying that the rest of America should hear?
I think lots of African-Americans are saying, look, it’s good that we have a black president, and, yes, we have come a long way. But African-Americans are falling behind and discriminated against in all kinds of measures – housing, employment, health care, the justice system, education, police killings of black citizens. [They aren’t “falling” behind; they ARE behind. Again, the disparity in outcome is not, in and of itself, evidence of systemic racism. In fact, in view of the fact that blacks are less intelligent (on average) than whites and Asians, it is to be expected.] The decline of public education in this country disproportionately affects African-Americans and people are fighting for access to water in Detroit. [Again, how is this evidence of racism?] People should really check out what’s happening with #BlackLivesMatter, which has been trending on social media in recent months. People born after the ’60s so often say they wish they were born at a time when a movement was rising up, and here’s a movement that’s happening right now. [None of my fellow Millennials have ever expressed such a sentiment in my presence. Perhaps I’m out of touch, being out here in the woods and all.]
Happy February, everyone.