THERE IS A SAYING IN THE ACADEMIC ARENA, “If it is not written down, it did not happen,” and Black history is seldom written on the pages of American history. Racism is also subject matter that does not make its way onto the pages of American history and is often treated as a taboo subject or a four-letter word. Author and Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates has said that, for Black people in America, Racism is a physical experience of fear and violence.
Note to American history teachers, White and Black: Do not expect your Black students to absorb your history class if you do not incorporate Black history. If I sit in a classroom and only read about the contributions made by White Americans and White Europeans, then the “learning field” is never level. It is downright dishonest that American history as portrayed in history textbooks essentially makes the statement that Blacks made no salient contributions to this country. My Black ancestors helped to develop this country before, during, and after slavery. You must teach the truth without regard to what the textbooks proclaim. You are not teaching if you do otherwise.
We simply cannot afford to ignore stories about the legacy of Black history, and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement any more. Those who tire of hearing about Racism should ask yourselves, what if you were Black and had to live through the daily vulgarity of and the pathology of White American Racism, and the Dishonesty of American History?
Mr. Rutledge Pearson, my American History teacher, the adviser to the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, and my mentor, armed us with the truth, irrespective of what was “written down.” Black History is who WE are. Racism is why WE fight . . . and the Struggle, is what WE must continue. Doing nothing is not an option.
The Struggle Continues.
I HAVE BEEN THE BENEFICIARY OF GREAT WORDS SPOKEN BY GREAT MEN IN MY LIFE WHICH HELPED ME UNDERSTAND THE LEGACY OF BLACK AMERICA AND DEVELOP THE PRIDE OF WHO I AM. From my mentor Rutledge Pearson who said… “Freedom is not Free. If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.”…to A. Philip Randolph as he said to me when I was introduced to him by Mr. Pearson… “the Negro must work together and stick together” …to James Weldon Johnson’s immortal words in “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”---
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Those words have resonated with me since I memorized this Majestic Hymn as a Fourth-Grader.
Knowing who you are, and not falling victim to the false narrative that as Blacks we MUST assimilate into White American Society to “make it”, is egregious and insulting and it begs the issue about White American Racism. Yet, Blacks become whitened and many Whites expect Blacks to become whitened, which makes them comfortable. If you lose your identity as a Black person and you are not too Black, then many Whites count you as acceptable and you are given the false narrative that you have arrived.
If you are proud of your Blackness and you show your Black pride through various visible means---t-shirts and jewelry and hair and clothing fashions and conversation---then many Whites feel you are TOO Black, and you become a threat.
I will not aid anyone in the promotion of White supremacy and the subjugation of people who look like me. I will not tolerate microaggression-daily insults and dismissals-of people who look like me. This means that more likely than not, I will be killed in the commission of my most basic human right – Breathing While Black.
All my life I’ve witnessed the debate – the Black victims of real Racism trying to convince the White privileged perpetrators of real Racism, that America is in fact, STILL quite Racist. The problem is quite simple. 1) Racism is control, by Whites on Blacks, because they have numbers and can get away with it and, 2) White America’s Racist control and White America’s Racist attitude exacted on me purely based on the color of my skin. The question is, what does America intend to do about it?
The answer as I internalize it is, Nothing...Nothing at All! Some of us will keep fighting Racism and calling out White American Racism, and White America will keep saying, “What? Me Racist? I don’t have a Racist bone in my body. There is no Racism in America.” Yeah Right.
As always, The Struggle Continues.
(Augusta Savage of Green Cove Springs and Jacksonville, chose James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as her inspiration for a sculpture at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Her work would become the famed sculpture “The Harp,” in which the strings were represented by Black Americans and the soundboard was the arm and hand of God. “The Harp” was one of the most popular works of art at the World’s Fair. Sadly, it was destroyed after the Fair closed, because Augusta did not have funds to have it cast in bronze, nor to move and store the piece.)
This is the White American Racism that White Americans claim does not exist. This is the White American Racism that Black Americans, deflect as they Go-Along to Get-Along to continue to get their invitations to rub elbows with White folks.
Note the pattern...
1) A stereotypical picture of World Champion Tennis Star Serena Williams as an overweight Black petulant child jumping up and down while spitting out her pacifier when she did not get her way. The only thing they did not include is a caption about Uppity Nigger. Note too, the thin White Chair umpire is talking to a rail-thin and White Naomi Osaka. Osaka is Haitian-Japanese, and is not rail thin. Both depictions are in comparison to Serena's size.
2) A Racist Comparison between Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. Michelle is shown as a masculine Black Female...period. While Melania is shown as a peaches and cream, and petite White Female. These reprehensible pictures are disrespectful and Racist to a Black Female Tennis champion and the Black former First Lady of the United States, who achieved distinction and greatness-and still do-in their endeavors.
If you do not see the Inherent White American Racism in these two Racist newspaper cartoons, then YOU are part of the reason Racism exists in America to the Nth degree
The Struggle Continues!
Ann Delores Albertie Hurst (June 24, 1945-September 5, 2016)
Rest Well Baby. You earned Your REWARD. It is Rough, But I Thank God for the 50+ Years HE Gave Us Together..and the Great Memories...and the Great Experiences. Thank you AGAIN, for softening my "rough edges" during those 50+ years.
This last verse from one of OUR favorite songs, "You and Me against the World"...
"And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
Of you and me against the world."
I Really Miss You.---Love Ya, Me.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.