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via Words, Words, Words by teresa on 2/4/10Black history month is a mixed bag for me. I feel it's important, but I always feel overwhelmed. Plus, every year I see the same bogus things. McDonald's, Popeye's and Walmart come to mind, and their special commercials that attempt to pander to the community while coming across racist as hell. "Hey Look, Black people! We know you – chicken, slang, break-dancing! Buy stuff!"
I can't be too judgmental, though, because I feel guilty for not knowing more about the pioneers, inventors, innovators, artists, activists and achievers beyond the ones we typically highlight. You know who: MLK, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver - to name a few. It's not that these people aren't important (hahaha I just said "these people" that's funny), it's that there are so many others who don't seem to make the cut.
As a community who's spent so much time in the margins, it seems ironic that we would be so selfish with the cannon of "worthy Black Folk" when it comes to this month. Granted 28 days (or 29) is hardly enough to cover all of the history and inspiration, and I get that the knowledge building should happen all year round. But if the month is to raise awareness, why not raise the awareness of people who we're not, well, aware of? So, my personal projects for this month are: 1) read unfamiliar works by familiar Black authors 2) talk to the elders in my family – they're black history, too.
I'll start with Cane by Jean Toomer, and I'll call my grandma this weekend.