At last it's here, Black History Month. It's the beginning of a 28-day span of black-pride groups protesting about why they have the shortest month of the year and throwing useless facts in our faces about who invented what, like we really care or will even remember. Am I right?
Every year it's always the same thing. Let's learn about George Washington Carver! As if the peanut man wasn't covered last year. Besides black history isn't totally absent from history books. I learned about all the important black people: Martin, Harriet, Frederick and Rosa, so why sit through another month of crash courses in black accomplishments?
For years, blacks have fought for a nationwide recognition of their contributions to this "great" land beyond what the schools selectively choose to acknowledge. We learn all about Ben and how he discovered electricity, but did your teacher ever tell you what brilliant physics mind actually made it possible to transmit messages via electricity?
Ancient Africans invented the process of papermaking, but have they ever been given their credit?
Then there is the credit for inventions such as the rocket catapult, refrigerator and helicopter, inventions for which credit was stolen from African Americans and given to Sir Master Sir.
Do you own a cell phone? Iron your clothes? Cut your grass? Enjoy air conditioning? Ever flipped a light switch, locked a door, brushed your hair, worn shoes, worn a hat, used the toilet? It baffles me to think of how American society would function without the contributions of so-called "monkeys."
George Washington Carver is the only "colored" given any credit and he only gets peanuts. What about soap, plastics, glue, nitroglycerine, rubber and the millions of other products he made from peanuts and the products of products made from peanuts?
The black mothers and fathers of history did more for the freedom of their people than George Washington did for the freedom of his colony.
During the centuries following the "re-founding" of this land, blacks were forced with guns, dogs and lynching to abide by laws that clearly violated human rights.
Does the 1790 First Naturalization Law sound familiar?
It declared that the United States was a white nation, justifying hate toward blacks.
In 1829, the Georgia Literacy Law threatened fines and imprisonment as penalties for teaching African Americans to read. In 1836 the District of Columbia passed a law prohibiting black businessmen from profit-making activities. Even if they were free, blacks could not work for income independent of the white man.
This country would not have half the integrity it has today if it were not for the ancestors of the black faces you see every day.
So the next time you dig up the audacity to question the importance of black history ask yourself this: Did I know any of the above?
Neither did anyone else.
But they should and you should too.
Sundarkia Newman is a senior and a representative of the Black Student Movement. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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