Restoring Holes In History
Photo Credit: African American Symbolic Images - Open Source
Jean McGavin, Kirkland '76 and the founder of History Chip, recently circulated an essay in celebration of Black History Month that was informative and brilliant, presenting a unique, common sense way to look at the degradation of truth and knowledge (they're one and the same) that occurs when books are banned, courses are banned, and discourse is restricted. In other words, what happens when self important officials ignore their responsibilities, in order to emulate Orwell's thought police and degrade the intellectual agora. She refers to "Holes in History", vacuums that demand to be filled. Black History Month is important because for much of our national history, it's been ignored, a big hole in our larger history. It's that simple. But what's not simple is our generational imperative to correct this historic moral shortfall.
Her essay is to be found here:
So, to paraphrase Jean, take a quiet moment to "step back and think about it". If you do, you'll realize "that we have a lot of holes in our history." Made Deliberately. I'll split hairs when she asserts that omitting African History from our national discourse makes our history incomplete. Yes, but it's worse than that; it corrupts the partial story that remains, that has never been completed. In this degraded state, the original foundation of the story and its context lose their relationship to facts. It becomes impossible to discern any truth that is left and separate it from unsupported chaff. That's not history; it's the mythology, indeed propaganda that hatred is based upon.
For decades, school textbooks in states south of the Mason-Dixon Line presented an image of African American Slaves as being happy, content with their lives as slaves. Pathetically, some of us still buy into that absurdity. Historians and Economists present a much more complex and perhaps gratifying story. Highlighting the integral role that African Americans played in the development of our nation, revealing the story of African Americans to be the story of all Americans - from the time of their first deadly, terrifying arrival, in 1619. Step back and think about it, it's before the Pilgrims arrived. Torn from their villages, their origin story in our country is just as valid as that of any ethnic group; my family's, or yours. There is no separation. It's past time to honor their epic saga.
The issues first brought to light by Black History Month have outgrown February, the time set aside to illuminate them. Because, instead of being addressed rationally, by a critical and unified electorate, they've become fuel for the metastasized regrowth of the culture wars. In addition to some brain power, let's bring Resolve and Unity to the face of this assault against our democracy. Unity and resolve can be achieved quietly, more effectively by being so. I've learned that the hard way. The music that accompanies this essay is a recent piece by Valerie Coleman, flutist and composer from Louisville, KY, titled Umoja: Anthem of Unity. Umoja is the Swahili word for Unity. Have a listen, it embodies the power and resolve that's necessary to effect the truth and the completion of our past. The accompanying image is also known as Umoja, It's the symbol that compliments the sung word.
When you get a chance, take a good look at historychip.com. And if you're feeling brave, post something. You might surprise yourself. Leave the site with a small truth, that when considered with other stories, coalesces into the larger, more forceful truth that tells the story of us all. One nation, with liberty and Justice for all...