Today is the first day of Black History Month. In my classroom, every month is Black History Month, simply because Black History is American History. Mark’s Text Terminal always observes Black History Month, mainly because the history of the African Diaspora in general, and its salubrious effect on the United States in particular, has always been of keen interest to me.
This year’s Black History Month arrives amidst a social and cultural atmosphere that has become especially ugly. Thanks to nativist loudmouths like Stephen Miller (who, incredibly, holds the position of “senior policy advisor” in the White House) and Steve Bannon, as well as the egotistical, foul-mouthed, and self-pitying “president” of the United States, our nation’s ugly bigotry is right out in the open once more. I suppose that’s a good thing–at least we know our adversaries. But it is unpleasant at best to live with.
Words are words, but the fact is that some police forces around our country appear to have declared open season on citizens of African descent. Personally, I remain bereft of the loss to our country of Trayvon Martin, a victim of the brazenly murderous instincts of a disastrous human being named George Zimmerman, who continues to have scrapes with the law.
For almost 15 years, I have lived in diverse neighborhoods in New York City. For the first seven years I was here, I lived on two different blocks in Harlem–once known as the capital of Black America. Across those seven years, I was treated only with respect by my neighbors. I ask you, rhetorically, this: if a Black man moved into a homogeneously white neighborhood, could he expect similar treatment? I rather doubt it, and that says nothing good about our country.
I continue to live in a diverse neighborhood, and I worry that the Eurocentric rhetoric emanating from the highest reaches of government, as well as the murders committed by police officers around the country, have the potential to poison relations between my neighbors, fellow subway riders, and other people with whom I passively associate here in my adopted city.
So, for Black History Month 2018, every post on Mark’s Text Terminal will be related to the history of citizens of the United States of African descent (which I say understanding that everyone on this planet, in the final analysis, is of African descent; Black History Month refers to more recent arrivals from the continent, mostly, if we are to be honest with ourselves about this, the descendants of people abducted in Africa subjugated into chattel slavery in the Americas). Let’s begin with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Black Power Movement. I’m old enough to remember it well, and feel encouraged that we may now be seeing its return, a development I welcome.
For the record, I do understand that my efforts here are mostly inconsequential. The White House has a 24-hour cable news propaganda machine (i.e. Fox News) with global reach, while I have my blog with fifteen views a day.
If you find typos in the Word document on Black Power above, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.