The headline of the February 1 edition of the TIMES gave me happiness, sadness and anger. There are four activities that require absolute accuracy: reporting the news; computing math; recording history; and throwing long passes.
It has been my long held belief that one major reason many Black people don’t do more with their lives – which includes voting – is a lack of knowledge and appreciation of the struggles and sufferings many endured before and during the civil rights movement of the ‘50s, ‘60s & early ‘70s. And this lack, I believe, is based on their ignorance of the history of black people.
This is why I was so happy to see the headline that a new museum was opening in Houma that would spotlight this history in the region. But immediate sadness overcame me when I saw the inaccurate name the museum chose to report that history.You can’t get to Mexico thru Canada. And then I was angry because I realized that the founders of the museum are victims of the lack of knowledge and appreciation of the very history they are trying to share. Albeit, knowing victims!
The so-called “African-American” Museum adopts a meaningless, distorted and Jim Crow name. Africa is a continent populated by white and black people. “African” is not synonymous with being black anymore than “American” is synonymous with being white. From a historical standpoint, at the commencement of the slave trade Africa was populated by more than 3,000 tribes who were no more alike than the tribes in America. Presently the continent still has thousands of different tribes along with 53 sovereign countries each with separate language, religion and culture. Referring to someone as “African” is an insulting and meaningless stereotype.
Now let’s get to the “American” part. When you identify someone by the name of a country it means that person is a citizen of the country with all the rights, protections, privilegesof that country! Historically, who would identify black people in America as citizens? Were black people citizens when the Constitution was adopted? Was Dredd Scott a citizen? Were slaves citizens? How about Homer Plessy? Ask the descendants of Jack Conrad if he was a citizen? Were black ballplayers in the Negro Leagues citizens? Do think those brave civil rights marchers and freedom riders were citizens? Was Ruby Bridgewater a citizen? So just when is this history beginning?
Now there is one other little problem with the name. It does not mean brown and black people. It only means descendants of brown and black slaves. There are lots of brown and black people who are not so-called “African-Americans”. Can you say Bobby Jindal? Can you say David Ortiz? Can you say Eduardo Perez? Can you say Sidney Poitier? Can you say Lester and Roger Bimah? So you see, the term segregates what should be a natural social, economic, political and cultural cohesion.
Accuracy. Identify black people and our history accurately as Black. Drop the meaningless,false, distorting and divisive hyphen and celebrate Black History and the Black History Museum.