Posts Tagged With: black history month

3 Shows To Watch During Black History Month

If you don’t want to die, comply — bumper sticker on pickup truck in Middletown, Ohio. As the statement indicates, our whiteness emboldens us — increasing our racial divide.

In honor of Black History Month here are three videos worth watching:

1.) Truth and Power: #BlackLivesMatter. Filmed in 2016, the first episode of the Truth and Power series on Netflix deals with the Black Lives Matter movement. A look at the inception of a movement borne from the frustration of a race historically, and currently, oppressed in a society that loves its whiteness. A lot is packed into this 20-minute episode, including interviews with the movement’s leaders, authors who have written about the country’s systemic racism, and the way the group has been monitored by government agencies.

2.) Spies of Mississippi. When I watched this hour-long piece on Amazon, I learned two things: 1.) Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, my alma mater, trained the 1960s Freedom Riders and 2.) the state of Mississippi created the State Sovereignty Group to systematically undermine the efforts of Civil Right leaders. The episode is journalistic in style (it was journalists who uncovered the documents about the Sovereignty Group) and it reveals government extensive effort to keep blacks ‘in their place.’ The piece looks at the various terror tactics used by police officers, newspaper editors and unscrupulous black leaders who spied on NAACP meetings.

Similarly-themed content about broken systems and the role they place in oppression are:

  • The Naked Truth, S1:E2 Mugged. This episode explores private companies exploiting people who have been arrested (including those with charges dropped). This is accomplished by posting mugshots online and forcing people to pay a fee to have them removed — but, as the episode reveals, finding out who operates these companies is difficult.
  • Truth and Power, S1: E4 Prisoners for Sale. This 20-minute episode explores how the private prison industry is undercutting the concept of justice.

3. I am Not Your Negro. I have mentioned this in a previous post, but this should be required viewing, especially for Whites. We have a tendency to presume we understand the race issue — or more commonly simply do not care because it does not impact us. This film is based on the unfinished work of black author James Baldwin. He set out to write about his three murdered friends: Malcom X, Medgar Evers (assassinated in Mississippi) and Martin Luther King — finishing 30 pages of the project.

The film is a tragic, poignant look at the black experience in America.

Baldwin was an intellectual who did not mince words and his written words, referenced throughout the film, are as applicable today as in the 1950s-1970s when Baldwin wrote them. The film also mixes in his interviews and speeches with current events, like Ferguson, showing not much has changed. I could fill this post with Baldwin’s quotes, but will include just one, which is read by actor Samuel Jackson as the image of a lynch mob is displayed on the screen. As the camera fades away from the dead black man it zeroes in on the white murderers staring at the camera while Jackson reads Baldwin’s words:

You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And, furthermore, you give me an terrifying advantage. You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise we literally are criminals.

Categories: movies | Tags: ,

Abuse Of Power: Controlling The Minority Vote in 1890

On Nov. 1, 1890, Mississippi became the first state to adopt restrictions denying Blacks the right to vote. According to the new ‘understanding’ legislation, African Americans were permitted to vote only if they could read and interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Source: An Encyclopedia of American History in Chronological Order

Categories: American History, Facts And trivia | Tags:

Why I Support Black History Month

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges

In my role as parent I attempted to pass along one core belief to my daughter – empathy.

I wanted her to seek to understand life from another person’s point of view. If she embraces empathy in her life, I feel I accomplished something worthwhile because empathy is a powerful concept. It is living the old saying – before you judge someone walk a mile in their shoes.

Empathy is also one of the reasons I strongly believe in the need for Black History Month. As a white man living in a Congressional District that is predominantly Caucasian I have little interaction with people outside my race and have little real-life knowledge of the struggles related to being Black in America.

America’s Discriminatory Past

History is always told through the eyes of the ruling race, class or faction. When American history is seen through the eyes, of say Native Americans, (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West) it is a significantly different history than the one I know as a Caucasian.

When my daughter was in sixth or seventh grade, she and I had the opportunity to visit the Cherokee Nation – a sovereign country located in Oklahoma. Inside the lobby of the Cherokee Nation Visitor Center a film about the Trail of Tears plays on a continuous loop. When we walked in an older woman, watching the film, overcome with emotion was crying.

As she spoke with a member of the Cherokee Nation, it was apparent she had come to understand the Trail of Tears from their perspective.

The tension between Blacks and Whites has never been resolved in this country. In 2016, serious levels of racial ignorance and racial hatred are still prevalent in the United States. During the past 12 months in my neighborhood the KKK distributed membership flyers with a third-grade level rhyme — Save our Land, Join the Klan.

But, it is not the Klan that I worry about. They have been marginalized to their proper place. I worry about a White culture that refuses to admit it has a problem.

87-Year-Old Victim Of Hate

Just last summer one of the vilest acts of hatred occurred when a racist white man killed nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One of the victims, Susie Jackson, was 87. Both of my grandmothers lived to about the same age and I cannot fathom someone hating either one of them enough to shoot and murder them. I know if either were murder under such brutal conditions, I would struggle with forgiving the perpetrator and I would want action and answers.

But what unfolded after the death of those nine innocent victims was not a conversation on how to prevent such senseless acts of violence. Instead my Congressman paid lip service to the tragedy by attending the funeral while the House quietly banned a study looking into gun violence. On TV and on social media, the conversation was not about how do we address these acts of evil, instead the discussion was diverted to my Second Amendment Rights and whether or not I can fly a Confederate flag.

If my grandmothers were murdered, I would not be overly interested in people’s opinions on either of those issues.

I would want would be empathy because that would lead to action.

Categories: American History, Current Events | Tags: