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Why dedicate a month to Black History?

February is Black History Month

Rev. Jack Harnish asserts, “We need a month dedicated to Black History, because most of our history has been white history, told by white writers, focusing on white characters, and mostly white men at that.”

JACK HARNISH
Retired clergy, Michigan Conference

If you haven’t noticed

it’s Black History Month. We need a month dedicated to Black History because most of our history has been white history, told by white writers, focusing on white characters, and mostly white men at that.

When I was growing up, I heard about George Washington Carver and the peanut, but I never read poetry by Langston Hughes or James Weldon Johnson until I was in college. I listened to the dulcet tones of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis singing love songs that made white folks comfortable. Still, I never learned about the Harlem Renaissance or the bigotry they endured despite their popularity. I knew about the Civil War and slavery, but no one ever told me about 1619 or the great compromise in the writing of the Constitution, which kept slavery in place.

If you haven’t noticed the focus on Black History, I assure you some people have. The white supremacists have noticed, and they are not happy.

If you haven’t noticed…

… it’s about African Americans in advertising. Today just about every TV commercial includes African Americans. Not long ago, you would have thought only white people bought toothpaste or shaving cream. I realize advertisers want to make money, but at least companies are recognizing the role African Americans play in our economy and are including them in their marketing.

If you haven’t noticed the focus on African Americans in advertising, I assure you some people have. The aggrieved white folks, who feel they are being “replaced,” have noticed, and they are not happy.

If you haven’t noticed…

… it’s about Critical Race Theory. My limited understanding of “Critical Race Theory” is that it acknowledges the central role race has played in American history, offering a lens through which we can see the whole of our story in a new light.

If you haven’t noticed, I assure you some people have. The angry parents at school board meetings are trying to block something that might make their children uncomfortable. They have noticed, and they are not happy.

If you haven’t noticed…

… it’s about an African American woman nominee for the Supreme Court. For 200 years, white males have dominated the Supreme Court, with Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas being the exceptions. Fortunately, we have seen women appointed to the court, but this is the first time a president has committed to nominating an African American woman. I say it’s about time!

If you haven’t noticed, I assure you some people have. Some TV pundits and politicians have reacted with stiff objections as if there is no possible way an African American woman could be qualified. Right-wing, white males have noticed, and they are not happy.

If you haven’t noticed the changes around race in our society, it’s about time you do … and I, for one, am very happy.

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The Michigan Conference