Tag Archives: Racism

Setting the Stage for Black History Month

By Sabrina Völz

Pho­to Cred­it: “Woman holds up sign at the Black Lives Mat­ter protest in Wash­ing­ton DC  6/6/2020” by Clay Banks

It’s that time of year again. Feb­ru­ary 1 marks the begin­ning of Black His­to­ry Month. Before I sug­gest some use­ful resources, let’s briefly look at its origins.

Fact 1: The Unit­ed States is not the only coun­try to offi­cial­ly cel­e­brate it. In addi­tion to our neigh­bors to the North, who also cel­e­brate this time of remem­brance in Feb­ru­ary, the Irish and the Unit­ed King­dom observe Black His­to­ry Month in October.

Fact 2: The roots of Black His­to­ry Month in the U.S. can be traced back to his­to­ri­an Carter G. Wood­son and the Asso­ci­a­tion for the Study of Negro Life and His­to­ry, who togeth­er marked the sec­ond week of Feb­ru­ary – which coin­cides with Abra­ham Lincoln’s birth­day – as Negro his­to­ry week in 1926.

Fact 3: Even the Great Eman­ci­pa­tor had his fail­ures, and so it’s undoubt­ed­ly best that in 1969 stu­dents at Kent State moved to cel­e­brate the con­tri­bu­tions and cul­ture of Black Amer­i­cans for an entire month, instead of plac­ing Pres­i­dent Lin­coln, who upheld the mass pub­lic hang­ing of 38 Dako­ta Sioux on Decem­ber 26, 1862, in the cen­ter of their celebrations.

So, if your school has nev­er cel­e­brat­ed Black His­to­ry Month before, it’s nev­er too late to get on that ‘soul train’. And since we didn’t want to leave you in the lurch, we’ve pro­vid­ed a list of some suit­able blogs we’ve pub­lished over the years on sub­jects, rang­ing from cul­tur­al icons, such as Aretha Franklin, Don Cor­nelius, and Bey­on­cé, to best books and fab­u­lous films deal­ing with Black iden­ti­ty and his­to­ry. You’ll also find infor­ma­tion on some cur­rent controversies:

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Hate Country Music … Why?

By Hannah Quinque

Pho­to Cred­it: Car­ol M Highsmith

Con­fes­sion time: I like coun­try music. And no, I’m not being face­tious. And no, not just the alter­na­tive kind. Gimme a steel gui­tar, a ban­jo, and a slow south­ern drawl, and I’m jam­min’. When I put on the New Boots playlist, how­ev­er, I do get looks rang­ing from dis­be­lief to slight­ly annoyed to amused. Not that the reac­tion sur­pris­es me. As is the nature of stereo­types, there is some truth to them, but they also don’t cov­er all of the vast corn­field called coun­try music. And hon­est­ly, you don’t have to strain your ears (pun intend­ed) to pick up on all there is to hear.

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Loving pro Virginia: A Films’ Powerfully Poignant Depiction of a Family’s Longing for Home

By Hannah Quinque

“I wan­na move ’em back to the country.

I don’t care what they do to us.

I won’t raise my fam­i­ly here.”

The 2016 art­house film Lov­ing, direct­ed by Jeff Nichols, has already run one hour and nine min­utes before Mil­dred Lov­ing express­es her unwill­ing­ness to com­ply with the court sen­tence that for­bids the fam­i­ly to reside in their home state of Vir­ginia. Her deci­sion sets them on a path of no return. The route takes their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lov­ing v. Vir­ginia will pave the way toward freely mar­ry­ing, liv­ing, and lov­ing for inter­ra­cial cou­ples in the Unit­ed States (for cou­ples, which fit het­ero- and cis­nor­ma­tive stan­dards, that is.) At first glance, the desire to return to Vir­ginia might appear at odds with the vio­lent­ly hate­ful treat­ment Mil­dred and Richard Lov­ing expe­ri­enced at the hands of Vir­gin­ian author­i­ties amidst betray­al by one of their neigh­bors. At sec­ond glance, how­ev­er, the film shows that the Lov­ings’ love for their home and home state is as much a dri­ving force behind the strug­gle for equal rights as is their love for each other.

Mildred’s final deci­sion to return to Vir­ginia fol­lows after their child Don is hit by a car in the busy Wash­ing­ton neigh­bor­hood. One of the most action-dri­ven scenes in the oth­er­wise strik­ing­ly calm and qui­et movie, Don’s acci­dent serves as the final tip­ping point, ini­ti­at­ing the long jour­ney of the Lov­ing v. Vir­ginia court case.

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We Were Trumped!

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Amer­i­cans do not vote direct­ly for their pres­i­dents. We vote for the peo­ple who will vote for our pres­i­dents. Each state is assigned elec­tors, based part­ly on pop­u­la­tion, but each state is assigned an addi­tion­al two elec­toral votes, regard­less of its size. Con­se­quent­ly, a vote from a per­son in a rur­al state has more influ­ence than a vote from an urban­ized area. This sys­tem has giv­en us five pres­i­dents who came in sec­ond in the people’s vote with mixed results. Three have made us ques­tion this sys­tem. With Ruther­ford Hayes, we got Jim Crow law that denied African Amer­i­cans their civ­il rights for more than 100 years. With George W. Bush, we got the Iraq war. With Don­ald Trump, well, we got – Trump!

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More than Just a Novel: Nic Stone’s Dear Martin

By Sabrina Völz

It’s been near­ly 52 years since Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. was assas­si­nat­ed on April 4, 1968. With­out a doubt, he con­tin­ues to inspire new gen­er­a­tions and serve as a role mod­el for non-vio­lent protest and change. In hon­or of Black His­to­ry Month in Feb­ru­ary, I’d like to review a young adult nov­el that brings the con­ver­sa­tion on racism and grow­ing up Black in the Unit­ed States to a new lev­el. It inves­ti­gates whether King’s teach­ings are still rel­e­vant today and whether they can help Jys­tice, a 17-year-old, promis­ing high school stu­dent. His life is turned upside down when he tries to help his intox­i­cat­ed ex-girl­friend get home safe­ly one night. In a con­fronta­tion with two police offi­cers, Jys­tice ends up on the ground in hand­cuffs – an all-too-famil­iar sight. The prob­lem: She’s White and he’s Black. As a result of the assault, Jys­tice will nev­er be the per­son he once was.

Nic Stone’s debut nov­el, Dear Mar­tin (2017), inter­weaves the top­ics of racial pro­fil­ing, police bru­tal­i­ty, black­face, col­or­blind racism, micro-aggres­sions, and act­ing ‘White’ with ques­tions of iden­ti­ty, friend­ship, and inter­ra­cial rela­tion­ships. With that list, you might just ask your­self how the author still man­ages to tell a good sto­ry with­out get­ting too dis­tract­ed and preachy. Well, she does. But before explor­ing the top­ic fur­ther, I’ll let Nic Stone intro­duce the book in her own words.

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A Call for 60s-Style Teach-ins on Anti-Racism

By Sabrina Völz

 

Pho­to Cred­it: “DSC8902 – The Ele­phant in the Room” by damienconway30

Let’s start off with a few telling facts: The ori­gin of the word “racism” stems from the French word racisme which appeared dur­ing the last decades of the 19th cen­tu­ry. In Eng­lish, how­ev­er, accord­ing to the Mer­ri­am Web­ster Dic­tio­nary, “Racism appears to be a word of recent ori­gin, with no cita­tions cur­rent­ly known that would sug­gest the word was in use pri­or to the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry.” Now, let that sink in. The peo­ple at Web­ster are also quick to point out that just because the word is “fair­ly new” doesn’t mean that “the con­cept of racism did not exist in the dis­tant past.” No won­der we – and with we, I mean all soci­eties – have a prob­lem with racism. So let’s get to the root of it and root it out.

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