Hey, bruh, I’m back again for our weekly explainer. I thought we might talk about Black History Month this time.
Sure! I always enjoy our talks.
In 1915, black Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History with minister Jesse Moorland. So ...
Hold up, man, I’m black! I know all that stuff. What I wanted to discuss is why some white people get so angry about it.
Because haters gonna hate, players gonna play and white people are gonna white.
OK, looks like we’re done here. Have a good day.
That’s it? That’s the reason?
What else do you want me to tell you? I would take more time out of my busy schedule of white genocide, oppressing Caucasians and practicing reverse racism to explain it, but it’s just that simple. It’s like the Geico commercial. Questioning anything that they perceive as too black: It’s what they do.
I get it. But I often hear them say that there is no need for Black History Month or that slavery was 150 years ago and Jim Crow was ended generations ago. Shouldn’t we be over it by now?
That’s a great question. I know I’m not supposed to answer a question with a question, but let me ask you a question: Let’s say I broke both of your legs right now. When you went to the doctor and he put you in a cast, would you be over it by this afternoon?
Why you gotta be so aggressive, bruh? Of course I wouldn’t be over it! But that’s different.
Why? You’d eventually heal. Sure, you’d probably be incapacitated and in pain for a long time, but you’d eventually learn how to walk again. Even if your legs were never as strong as they once were, according to your wypipo theory, you shouldn’t feel any residual resentment.
I get what you’re saying, but Jim Crow and slavery were both so long ago. Everyone knows about it, right?
To illustrate your point, a recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that only 8 percent of high school seniors knew that slavery was the cause of the Civil War, and only 12 percent understood that slavery was not just a Southern institution. More than two-thirds didn’t even know that a constitutional amendment was what ended the practice of slavery.
OK. But that still doesn’t explain why it’s important.
It’s important because it is impossible to know how this country works presently without understanding the details of slavery, the legacy of black achievements and how black people were treated throughout the history of America. It’s like trying to understand law without learning about previous cases. It is extremely relevant to understanding every other facet of American culture, including economics, politics, science and art.
Come on, fam. How do slavery and Jim Crow play a part in 21st-century economics?
If you ever wonder why black families have only 6 percent of the generational wealth that white families have, it’s partly because of Jim Crow. The two biggest drivers of economic mobility are education and homeownership.
Because of segregation and the government practice of redlining, black people were relegated to homeownership in certain areas for most of the history of this country. This not only decreased the value of black homes (if blacks were even able to own a home at all) but also increased the property values of housing in exclusively white areas. So black families have always been less likely to own or pass down their biggest asset.
Segregation also explains why black neighborhoods receive less funding. Because many universities didn’t integrate until the ’60s, black students didn’t have the same opportunities for a college education. This is how Jim Crow is still responsible for economic inequality, and knowing that these things were embedded in the Constitution is important.
OK, but politics and science? Why is black history important in those areas?
Because you can’t understand two-party politics without understanding the Southern strategy and white supremacy. The difference between the Democratic and Republican parties is essentially how they differed on slavery and how they later disagreed on civil rights. Have you ever wondered why the electoral map looks a lot like the map of the Confederacy in 1864?
Try becoming a doctor without understanding how Charles Drew pioneered the methods of blood transfusions and storing blood plasma. Cancer researchers still use Henrietta Lacks’ cells for research. Scientists couldn’t treat arthritis or synthesize steroids, estrogen and testosterone until Percy Julian figured it out. America was able to put a man in space only after Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory.
None of this is black history. It’s American history.
True. But American art?
There is no such thing.
What do you mean?
“America” has never created an art form. Black people did.
Jazz was created by black people. The blues were created by black people. Rock ’n’ roll was created by black people. Hip-hop was created by black people. Every form of American dance is an iteration of black dance. Graffiti is the only visual art form that was created in America. Vaudeville was just people singing and performing in blackface until Moms Mabley discovered she could just stand there and tell jokes, becoming the first pure American stand-up comedian.
OK, so that’s why black history is important. Because black people made America great the first time!
Yes. America is an economic superpower because of the free labor of slaves. America is a military superpower because of the black soldiers who tipped the scales in this country’s favor in every war. American art and culture are the most popular in the world because of the music, poetry and art that black people created.
There is nothing about America that can be understood if you don’t know black history. It’s like learning about how a car works and knowing nothing about the engine. Black people are not simply a part of this country; it belongs to us. Without it, this country would simply be Diet Europe filled with poor, sunburned wypipo waltzing off the beat to baroque music, joints sore from arthritis, eating bland chicken breast between hockey games as they looked up at the stars dreaming about how they could go there.
But why is it only in February? Why is it during the shortest month of the year? Why isn’t it taught year-round?
I think you know the answer to that.
Because white people gonna white.
I’ll see you next week.