Mockery of Black History Month

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized


              February has, for the last 25-30 years, been designated Black History Month in America, and some NAACP-type organizations are even upset that the shortest month of the year is the one chosen. Those same organizations couldn’t have been too happy with the doings at one primary school in Watts, the heart of the Black community in Los Angeles. The school was staging its own parade to honor prominent Black people, and each class was allowed to vote for notables to display posters of in the parade. When three of the “notables” turned out to be O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman, and RuPaul, heads rolled, and the three teachers responsible, who were coincidentally white, were immediately suspended. Well, I would guess so!

                 The first question is, how did kids aged 11 or under even know who these people were, as their notoriety was largely over before these kids were even born? Then we can start to question the absurdity of settling on those three, whose blackness was just a formality. Simpson might have earned some consideration if he hadn’t been a non-convicted but guilty-as-hell murderer. He’s in jail now, on a much lesser charge, but obviously the specter of his previous guilt influenced the conviction. If he had just been a retired football player, and otherwise kept out of the headlines, there might be an understanding of his prowess as one of the greatest running backs in the history of the game, but still his contribution to Black History would have been scant, compared to say, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, or even Oprah Winfrey. He once said, with considerable arrogance, “I’m not black, I’m not white, I’m just O.J.” 

                  Dennis Rodman was best known for ever-changing hair color, multiple tattoos and piercings, marrying Carmen Electra for about a day, and oh yeah, being a better than average basketball player. He was also, if not the first, certainly one of the best known for the silly habit of constantly referring to himself in third person in interviews. Since his basketball career ended in the late 90’s, he’s mostly been a reality TV fixture. Where does that fit in the picture when you’re considering the importance of the man measured against those who truly struggled and strived for the recognition that they felt their race deserved? Rodman’s concern was only for his OWN recognition. 

                   Then there’s RuPaul, a 6’5″ gay transvestite, Little Richard in a dress with about 1% of the talent, who had one disco hit in the early 90’s, and somehow that was parlayed into a temporary career as a talk show host. How does any of that brief resume fit the role of major contributor to Black history? Little Richard would have been a better choice, and that would have been pushing it a bit.

                       Ultimately, the fact that these teachers approved the classes’ choices, and may have even influenced their voting, smacks of mockery of the whole celebration. The fact that all three teachers were white doesn’t bode well in their defense. Was Robert Mugabe in the running as well? Idi Amin? Sack the three immediately, and send them to teach in Alabama!

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