Flip-Flopper: Why I’m Against Black History Month…and For It (Part 2)

by Juliette Ochieng | February 11th, 2014

Readability

Flip-Flopper: Why I'm Against Black History Month...and For It (Part 2)

by baldilocks

In the first part, I expressed my ambiva­lence toward Black His­tory Month; here, I mean to make the case for its necessity.

The Sec­ond Mind

A few months back, a per­son at another blog asked this ques­tion: how has America’s slave his­tory affected present-​day black Amer­i­cans? The answer sits right in front of our eyes, and is so com­mon that it almost never goes noticed: nearly all black Amer­i­cans who are not recent African immi­grants or the prog­eny of recent African immi­grants have Euro­pean sur­names. [i] This phe­nom­e­non is a direct result of Amer­i­can slavery.

Upon Eman­ci­pa­tion, some for­mer slaves took the last names of their most recent for­mer mas­ter; oth­ers retained the names of ear­lier mas­ters; still oth­ers appro­pri­ated their own sur­names, often that of Amer­i­can pres­i­dents up to 1865. (This is the rea­son there are so many black Amer­i­cans with last names of Wash­ing­ton, Adams, Jef­fer­son, Jack­son, Lin­coln and Johnson.)

But the point is that, black Amer­i­cans were, under pain of pun­ish­ment, sev­ered from their pre-​American his­to­ries and our names reflect this sev­er­ance, the spe­cial cir­cum­stances of the author notwith­stand­ing.

To quote myself:

Black Amer­i­cans — specif­i­cally, the descen­dants of Amer­i­can slav­ery – are the most Amer­i­can of Amer­i­cans. […] Unlike all other immi­grants to Amer­ica, our ances­tors were forcibly cut off from all of the totems of their var­i­ous West African tribes: names, lan­guages, fam­ily struc­tures, belief sys­tems. These things have buoyed all other eth­nic groups — includ­ing recent African immi­grants — in their sojourn to this coun­try and all of them had the choice to hold onto the ele­ments of their cul­tures that fit into the Amer­i­can ideal and dis­card those which were incom­pat­i­ble. Amer­i­can slaves were granted no such lux­ury. Our ances­tors were emp­tied of their iden­ti­ties and re-​created in the image of what Amer­ica had for them.

The Ottoman Empire pro­vided a prece­dent for this prac­tice and the strip­ping of the old iden­tity cou­pled with the pro­hi­bi­tion of other forms of indige­nous African com­mu­ni­ca­tion had a sim­i­lar pur­pose: to cut off “un-​coded” com­mu­ni­ca­tion between slaves, and, thereby, pre­vent con­spir­a­cies. More­over, as the Ottoman Empire aspired to cre­ate sol­diers in its own image, Amer­ica aspired to cre­ate a slave-​class in its own image. And the long-​term effect of this prac­tice remains embed­ded in our very identities.

So what is the big deal about not know­ing the his­tory of one’s peo­ple? I am often shocked to hear Amer­i­cans who cel­e­brate the vision and fore­sight of the Amer­i­can Founders ask that ques­tion. We — all Amer­i­cans — rightly hear­ken to the ideals on which this coun­try is based in order to get some per­spec­tive on the present and as guid­ance on how to pro­ceed in the future. And we exam­ine this country’s suc­cess and fail­ures for the same rea­sons. And fur­ther, many Amer­i­cans cel­e­brate being descended from Mayflower pas­sen­gers or from spe­cific Amer­i­can Indian tribes; or from Japan, or Ire­land, or…

Black Amer­i­cans, how­ever, can­not point to an actual eth­nic her­itage which con­tributed to the mix that is Amer­ica, for the rea­sons spec­i­fied. And the ad hoc her­itage which we are con­tin­u­ously build­ing and fash­ion­ing is rooted in slav­ery – foun­da­tion­ally shaky and some­thing about which many of us are unjus­ti­fi­ably ashamed. And, as a result of that mis­placed shame, all too many of us take that shame, turn it out­ward, and use it as a cud­gel in an attempt to shame white Amer­i­cans. The result: white guilt.

It’s time for that mind­set to end and there are two meth­ods of end­ing it.

First, we need to stop view­ing the slav­ery of our ances­tors as a sub­ject of shame. It is what it is and it is more than what it is…it removed us from the influ­ences of idol­a­try and Islam. That’s how God works and he did some­thing sim­i­lar with the ancient Israelites.

Sec­ondly, black his­tory needs to shake off the “rah-​rah, Team Black” aspect and focus on the truth – good and bad – as much as pos­si­ble. Some­thing which will be an aid: tech­no­log­i­cal advances in DNA test­ing. This has served to lift the fog which used to sur­round Amer­i­can slave ances­try and I pre­dict that those who avail them­selves of it will become less focused on the vic­ti­mol­ogy inher­ent in cel­e­brat­ing the depre­da­tions of slav­ery and more focused on the the good and bad of our Amer­i­can her­itage and of our sin­gu­lar African tribal her­itage – if desired.

Next part: what’s in it for white people?

To Be Continued…


[i] Between the end of the Transat­lantic Slave Trade in the 1850s and the Mboya Air­lift of 1959, black African immi­gra­tion to the USA was kept at almost zero.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2009; the sec­ond edi­tion in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

********************************************************

[olimome­ter id=4]

It’s Tues­day and while traf­fic was good yes­ter­day DaTip­Jar just plain didn’t move remain­ing at $51.11

With a weekly goal of $350 that means we’re only $298.89 to go to make week 2 in Feb­ru­ary a suc­cess as opposed to week 1.

Only 12 read­ers at $25 are needed to clear this weeks goal and start to make up on last week’s shortfall.

[olimome­ter id=2]

Your tip jar hit can help me do this. Please con­sider kick­ing in.

And now there is another rea­son to kick in on a more per­ma­nent way

Baldilocks miniIf you become one of the 55 34 sub­scribers @ at $20 a month are nec­es­sary to secure the cost of DaM­ag­nif­i­cent Seven & my monthly mort­gage on a per­ma­nent basis but do so at the $25 level
you can receive one of sev­eral Exclu­sive Orig­i­nal Chris Muir high Res Graph­ics of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of DaTechGuy’s Mag­nif­i­cent Seven Gang. like the one on the right

Beanie : $2.00USD — week­ly­Cap : $10.00USD — month­ly­Hat : $20.00USD — month­lyFe­dora : $25.00USD — month­ly­Grand Fedora : $100.00USD — monthly

Low res tha lotPlease spec­ify which of the eight hi res (includ­ing myself you wish to receive) Sub­scribe at $50 a month and receive all eight. Sub­scribe at $100 a month and get all 8 wanted posters high res graph­ics plug the high res ver­sion of all of us exclu­sively cre­ated for sub­scribers of DaT­e­chGuy blog by Chris Muir him­self!

by baldilocks

In the first part, I expressed my ambivalence toward Black History Month; here, I mean to make the case for its necessity.

The Second Mind

A few months back, a person at another blog asked this question:  how has America’s slave history affected present-day black Americans? The answer sits right in front of our eyes, and is so common that it almost never goes noticed: nearly all black Americans who are not recent African immigrants or the progeny of recent African immigrants have European surnames. [i] This phenomenon is a direct result of American slavery.

Upon Emancipation, some former slaves took the last names of their most recent former master; others retained the names of earlier masters; still others appropriated their own surnames, often that of American presidents up to 1865. (This is the reason there are so many black Americans with last names of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Johnson.)

But the point is that, black Americans were, under pain of punishment, severed from their pre-American histories and our names reflect this severance, the special circumstances of the author notwithstanding.

To quote myself:

Black Americans—specifically, the descendants of American slavery–are the most American of Americans. [...] Unlike all other immigrants to America, our ancestors were forcibly cut off from all of the totems of their various West African tribes: names, languages, family structures, belief systems.  These things have buoyed all other ethnic groups—including recent African immigrants—in their sojourn to this country and all of them had the choice to hold onto the elements of their cultures that fit into the American ideal and discard those which were incompatible.  American slaves were granted no such luxury.  Our ancestors were emptied of their identities and re-created in the image of what America had for them.

The Ottoman Empire provided a precedent for this practice and the stripping of the old identity coupled with the prohibition of other forms of indigenous African communication had a similar purpose: to cut off “un-coded” communication between slaves, and, thereby, prevent conspiracies. Moreover, as the Ottoman Empire aspired to create soldiers in its own image, America aspired to create a slave-class in its own image. And the long-term effect of this practice remains embedded in our very identities.

So what is the big deal about not knowing the history of one’s people? I am often shocked to hear  Americans who celebrate the vision and foresight of the American Founders ask that question. We—all Americans—rightly hearken to the ideals on which this country is based in order to get some perspective on the present and as guidance on how to proceed in the future. And we examine this country’s success and failures for the same reasons. And further, many Americans celebrate being descended from Mayflower passengers or from specific American Indian tribes; or from Japan, or Ireland, or…

Black Americans, however, cannot point to an actual ethnic heritage which contributed to the mix that is America, for the reasons specified. And the ad hoc heritage which we are continuously building and fashioning is rooted in slavery–foundationally shaky and something about which many of us are unjustifiably ashamed. And, as a result of that misplaced shame, all too many of us take that shame, turn it outward, and use it as a cudgel in an attempt to shame white Americans. The result: white guilt.

It’s time for that mindset to end and there are two methods of ending it.

First, we need to stop viewing the slavery of our ancestors as a subject of shame. It is what it is and it is more than what it is…it removed us from the influences of idolatry and Islam. That’s how God works and he did something similar with the ancient Israelites.

Secondly, black history needs to shake off the “rah-rah, Team Black” aspect and focus on the truth–good and bad–as much as possible. Something which will be an aid: technological advances in DNA testing. This has served to lift the fog which used to surround American slave ancestry and I predict that those who avail themselves of it will become less focused on the victimology inherent in celebrating the depredations of slavery and more focused on the the good and bad of our American heritage and of our singular African tribal heritage–if desired.

Next part: what’s in it for white people?

To Be Continued…


[i] Between the end of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 1850s and the Mboya Airlift of 1959, black African immigration to the USA was kept at almost zero.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

********************************************************

Olimometer 2.52

It’s Tuesday and while traffic was good yesterday DaTipJar just plain didn’t move remaining at $51.11

With a weekly goal of $350 that means we’re only $298.89 to go to make week 2 in February a success as opposed to week 1.

Only 12 readers at $25 are needed to clear this weeks goal and start to make up on last week’s shortfall.

Olimometer 2.52

Your tip jar hit can help me do this. Please consider kicking in.

And now there is another reason to kick in on a more permanent way

Baldilocks mini If you become one of the 55 3/4 subscribers @ at $20 a month are necessary to secure the cost of DaMagnificent Seven & my monthly mortgage on a permanent basis but do so at the $25 level
you can receive one of several Exclusive Original Chris Muir high Res Graphics of the original members of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven Gang. like the one on the right

Beanie : $2.00USD – weeklyCap : $10.00USD – monthlyHat : $20.00USD – monthlyFedora : $25.00USD – monthlyGrand Fedora : $100.00USD – monthly

Low res tha lotPlease specify which of the eight hi res (including myself you wish to receive) Subscribe at $50 a month and receive all eight. Subscribe at $100 a month and get all 8 wanted posters high res graphics plug the high res version of all of us exclusively created for subscribers of DaTechGuy blog by Chris Muir himself!

Buy Raspberry Ketone Here

American 023

Try the Double Burger!

nashoba

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

Annies Book Stop of Worcester 001

Find Discounts at the Stores you Love

TOP STORES

Listen to your Granny

RWG

Forest of Assassins

Forest of Assassins

DH Gate Dot Com, Online Shopping

ecigarette

Support our favorite Charties

Read me at Examiner.com

Examiner badge2

Only 114 Million Hits to retirement!

Most Innovative Blogger 2013

Most Innovative Blogger 2013

Tags

Help a Brother Knight of Mine who needs a hand