8 events that colored black history month necessary in 2013

At the beginning of the month I questioned people in my life about whether or not they felt it was still necessary for us to have a Black History Month in America. Here at the end of the month, judging from the events that have transpired in the last few weeks, I am more sure than ever that not only do we need Black history month we need to overhaul it so it can actually do the job it was meant to do in the first place.

When I first published this article I had eight events. Each day since I have added another event. Thank goodness February is a short month! Here are eight TEN ELEVEN events that happened Black History Month 2013 that hardly inspired celebration.

 

1. ILL-LITERACY

In Fairfax county one mother has launched a campaign to have Pulitzer prize winning masterpiece by a Nobel Prize winning author banned from her county’s reading list.

Excerpt from The Washington Post:

Fairfax County parent wants ‘Beloved’ banned from school system. “It’s not about the author or the awards,” said Murphy, a mother of four whose eldest son had nightmares after reading “Beloved” for his senior-year Advanced Placement English class. “It’s about the content.”

“It’s a painful part of the African American history in parts of this country,” said the ALA’s director, Barbara Jones. “A lot of parents understandably want to protect their children from that. .?.?. However, we would strongly advise people to read the book as a whole before they make a judgment.”

 

2. IT’S IN THE MAIL

Mississippi was the last state to ratify the 13th amendment abolishing slavery in 1995. At least hey thought they did. Oops, someone messed up. The “oops” in Mississippi was reported on ABC News:

Two medical school colleagues, one an immigrant from India, the other a life-long Mississippian, joined forces to resolve a historical oversight that until this month had never officially been corrected.

The oversight was no small one either. Until February 7, 2013, the state of Mississippi had never submitted the required documentation to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, meaning it never officially had abolished slavery.

 

3. HANDS OFF MY BABY

60 year old Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden Idaho is charged with assault for allegedly slapping an African American baby on a Delta flight.

Excerpt from CNN:

The boy’s mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, of Minnesota told the FBI that she and her son were seated in row 28, seat B, on February 8 on Delta Flight 721 that originated in Minneapolis, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta this week.

The boy began crying because of the altitude change, and his mother tried to soothe him, court papers said.

Then Hundley, who was seated next to the mother and son, allegedly told her to “shut that (‘N word’) baby up,” according to court documents.

Hundley then turned around and slapped the 2-year-old in the face with an open hand, which caused the child to scream even louder, the affidavit said.

4. ALEC BALDWIN VS NEW YORK POST

Alec Baldwin stands accused of racist rant against an African American photographer for the New York Post.

Excerpt from The New York Post:

The “30 Rock’’ star grabbed the reporter, Tara Palmeri, by her arm and told her, “I want you to choke to death,” Palmeri told police, for whom she played an audiotape of the conversation.

He then called G.N. Miller — a decorated retired detective with the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau and a staff photographer for The Post — a “coon, a drug dealer,’’ Miller’s police statement said.

Baldwin also walked up to random people — including a dad pushing his child in a stroller — and told them Miller was an ex-con and drug dealer, Miller said.

“He was saying some serious racist stuff,” Miller said. “He said some choice words about my mother, and he was telling people in the street that I’m a drug dealer.

“He could have said a lot of other stuff. But he used all of the stereotypes associated with black people.”

5. WHITES ONLY

Hospital settles lawsuit with nurse after posting a sign barring African American nurses from touching, treating or caring for a white newborn baby at the behest of its’ swastika adorned father.

DETROIT (AP) — It’s been called one of medicine’s “open secrets” — allowing patients to refuse treatment by a doctor or nurse of another race.

USA Today

Veteran neonatal nurse Tonya Battle’s lawsuit accused Hurley Medical Center hospital staff of posting a note on an assignment clipboard saying that African-American nurses could not care for a certain newborn. The baby’s father had made the request after he found Battle caring for the baby, Battle said. The note later was removed, but African-American nurses were not assigned to care for the infant for about a month, according to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court in January.

On Friday evening, with Battle and two other nurses at her side, the hospital’s CEO, Melany Gavulic, read from a prepared statement that said, in part, “We regret that our policies were not well enough understood and followed, causing the perception that Hurley condoned this conduct.

The note later was removed, but African-American nurses were not assigned to care for the infant for about a month, according to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court in January.

On Friday evening, with Battle and two other nurses at her side, the hospital’s CEO, Melany Gavulic, read from a prepared statement that said, in part, “We regret that our policies were not well enough understood and followed, causing the perception that Hurley condoned this conduct.

“Hurley Medical Center is fundamentally opposed to any form of racial discrimination,” Gavulic read.

She indicated that the incident may lead to staff training, though the statement offered no specifics and did not address the allegations in the second suit.

 

6. CALL HER QUVENZHANE

Quvenzhane Wallis has a beautiful name that deserves respect, but that’s not what she got. At 9 years old she was the youngest nominee for Best Actress in its’ 85 year history. She had her name made fun of by host Seth MacFarland calling it an “eye chart”. WGN-TV Dean Richards posted a bastardization of her name on his Facebook page, adding a whole bunch of nonsense letters to it. And an annonymous Academy voter boldly said this in a Hollywood Reporter article:

“I also don’t vote for anyone whose name I can’t pronounce. Quvez—? Quzen—? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name — Alphabet Wallis. The truth is, it’s a very sweet but immature performance from a 9-year-old. I’ve directed children. They probably did a thousand takes and put the best ones together.”

 

7. C STANDS FOR COLOSAL MISTAKE

During the later half of the Oscars Broadcast satirical newspaper The Onion posted a hostile and derogatory tweet on their Twitter stream, calling 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis the C word. (Thank you @HFofNicholes for the lead on this story.)

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013

— The Onion (@TheOnionFebruary 25, 2013

I was even quoted in the Hollywood Reporter news article on the subject:

The tweet, sent out around 8:42 p.m. PST, quickly made the rounds on the social media website. An hour later, the offending message was deleted from The Onion’s feed. CEO Steve Hannah issued an apology Monday morning.

 

8. WHITE MODEL BLACK STORY

A 16 year old white model is painted brown and photographed as the centerpiece of an editorial entitled “African Queen” for French magazine Numéro despite having access to plenty of African American models. (Thank you @PDeeDixon for the lead on this story.)

Excerpt from Jezebel.com:

It’s impossible to look at this and not ache for young women of color who want to pursue careers in modeling (and arguably, fashion by extension). When they don’t see themselves on the runway or in magazines, it could be very easy for them to think, “huh, I guess modeling isn’t for me.” Then the status quo reigns, and the runways remain monotone. If jobs for “African Queen” photo spreads aren’t going to black women, what hope is there?

Since my original posting of this article I have found a 9th notable event, here in Chicago. 

9. LYNCHING FOR SPORT

In 2011 four white male teens decided to dissuade an African American teen from keeping company with one of their cousins by restraining him with a noose around his neck. On Wednesday February 27th, the eldest of the group was sentenced to two years of probation, required participation in healing circles with the victim and others, and he was ordered to write an essay about lynching. Apparently the learning black history is now a punishment in America.

Excerpt from NBC Chicago:

Herrmann and two other teens were accused of putting a noose around the African American victim’s neck, threatening him with a knife and calling him racially charged names. The victim was eventually able to escape the December 2011 attack.

The victim’s father said the attackers were unhappy with a relationship his son had with one of the attackers’ female cousins.

 

10. BLACKFACE ONLY GOOD FOR PARTIES

Having a black face in America historically has kept individuals from equal opportunities in education, housing, the job market, medical care. But wearing black face to a party, that brings on the fun, at least according to Assemblyman Dov Hikind. (Thank you @MusicAdamT for the lead on this story.)

Excerpt from Gawker.com:

To celebrate Purim this year, marking the deliverance of the Jewish people from extermination in ancient Persia, Hikind threw an elaborate costume party. Hikind’s wife dressed as a red-faced demon and his son painted a yin-yang symbol on his face, reportedly to look like an “angel.” And Hikind himself, the 62-year-old elected representative from one of the world’s most diverse cities? Why, he went as a basketball player, in Afro and blackface, of course.

 

11. THE MINORITIES ARE COMING

Bloomberg Businessweek is a great resource to let people know, not only what is going on financially in real time, but what to look out for coming down the pike. Being that they are a magazine they are fighting for their lives to stay edgy and relevant despite the important news they deliver. Unfortunately Bloomberg Businessweek has been bitten by the Anti-Black History month bug just like all of the people listed here before them. For this words aren’t necessary. The picture is worth a thousand of them. (More like a thousand little paper cuts that lead us to a very slow death.)

Excerpt from Slate.com:

 

Black history month doesn’t just need to be more inclusive it needs to be more honest. The bottom line is until we assimilate African American history into its’ rightful place in American history we will continue to breed a culture in society that makes way for stories like these. We have to stop undervaluing the contributions of African Americans in the past as well as diminishing their present, otherwise we will short change the future for us all.

 

SMILE On!

ML

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Comments

  1. My jaw just kept dropping lower and lower. (deep breath) Thank you for calling all of these publications and moments out. Keep raising awareness my friend… I’ll do what I can to help as well. We need to help remind everyone to think, learn and be educated before speaking or publishing.

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