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Black Heritage 2008

It’s Black History Month again, which means it’s time for my update on the state of the “racial” division in this country. Those of you who have kept up with my writings know how I feel about Black History Month, but for those who haven’t, let me bring you up to speed.

Ebony Magazine cover (authentic)
Ebony Magazine cover (authentic)
I believe in the color blind society. I think the color of a person’s skin is no more relevant than a person’s height, hair color, or shoe size. I believe that to assign roles for or make judgments about a person on the basis of his or her skin color is—for the most part—wrong, and to talk about the subject of ethnic backgrounds with the word “race” is illogical, since we are all human beings and not separate races.

Therefore, I do not believe in Black History Month, because I do not believe that human history should be divided. The history of black people did not run concurrently with the history of white people, because there is only one history. You can talk about how black people were treated in this country as a subset of that history, but black people, based solely upon the color of their skin, do not have their own historical record. Attempts to segregate history only serve to deepen the division between the so-called races through discrimination.

And make no mistakes about it: discrimination is still with us, as divisive as ever.

No, we don’t have separate bathrooms or water fountains for blacks, but we do have separate magazines (Jet, EBONY), television channels (BET), and even entertainment awards (The NAACP Image Awards). There is no Ivory Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or National Association for the Advancement of Caucasion People Image Awards, and for good reason: such things would be discriminatory and divisive, perpetuating the myth that white people are different from black people. I argue that the concept of “black culture” is just as offensive.

Ivory Magazine cover (totally fake) - image stolen from monkeyspit.com
Ivory Magazine cover (totally fake) - image stolen from monkeyspit.com
There’s a television commercial that’s been making the rounds for the better part of a year now, highlighting all the inventions made by black people. The implication is that I should judge modern black people by the inventiveness of past black people, which is to say I should judge people based upon the color of their skin. Clearly, only people with black skin could have invented the lawnmover. How come other people don’t talk about how absurd that is?

Let me be clear here; I’m not talking about African culture or African history. Africa, as a separate continent, does have its own culture and history (a place has a unique history, as does an individual, but arbitrary groupings of people do not), but unless you’re talking about a Sudanese refugee who just came to this country in the last decade or a bonafide African immigrant, you cannot claim that black people in America have more in common with Africans than Americans. In fact, the term “African-American” is more polarizing and dishonest, in my opinion, than the word “nigger.”

Yeah, people are going to find that idea offensive, and I probably just lost a good portion of my audience, but it’s the truth. And while I’m offending people, let me ask some provocative questions:

***WARNING: POLITICAL CONTENT!!***

Is Oprah Winfrey throwing her influence around presidential hopeful Barack Obama because of the content of his character or the color of his skin? How is a black person voting for Obama because he is black different than a white person voting for Clinton because she is white? Should tall people be checking to see which candidate has more height? How can we live in a color blind society when the color of a man’s skin can get him elected?

Sinatra: the man, the legend, the blue-eyed hunk
Sinatra: the man, the legend, the blue-eyed hunk
I know; talking about Obama’s skin color is taboo (unless I am also black, and then I can talk about the good he’s doing for “my people”). It’s worse, even, than mentioning Clinton’s ovaries. Surely people will think my problems with Obama will have everything to do with the color of his skin, which is just not true. My problems with Obama have to do with his insistence on shutting down the prisons in Guantanamo Bay, pulling out of Iraq before the job is done, ending the tax cuts, and attempting to instill socialized healthcare. I was hoping Condi Rice would run on the Republican side, not because of the color of her skin, but because I think she’s stronger and more intelligent than Bush but won’t repeal what good work I think he’s done. Besides, if a black Republican and a black Democrat ran against each other, we wouldn’t have to worry about people being called racist at the voting booth.

***END OF POLITICAL CONTENT***

All political opinion aside, my point here is that, in our society, we are continuing the long and sad history of stereotyping, discrimination, and racism today by allowing people to be grouped by superficial differences in appearance. The KKK and the NAACP are not all that different, and I think the existence of both is highly offensive.

It just won't stop sucking!
It just won't stop sucking!
However, I am not attempting to argue that either should be made illegal, as that would negate the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Rather, I think we should be vocal in our opposition of all things discriminatory, which is why I have this yearly affirmation of my beliefs in the matter. I will continue to write rants on this subject as long as people continue to divide themselves for ridiculous reasons, and I will continue to do so in February as long as the offensive Black History Month is celebrated.

Until Black History Month is taken away, I hereby declare that February shall be Blue-Eyed History Month, and we should take the time to ponder and celebrate all the good things that blue-eyed people have done for this country. Let’s listen to the music of Frank Sinatra and Elvis, two pioneers in blue-eyed music, watch movies featuring an all blue-eyed cast, like a Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie, get subscriptions to Tru Blu, the magazine devoted to all things blue-eyed, and remember the work of such blue-eyed pioneers as Hans Eiberg, the man who traced the genetics of blue eyes to a common ancestor, Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio, and of course James Dyson; only a person with blue-eyes could be such a genius with vacuum cleaners.



-e. magill 02/12/2008








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