I'm a Black History Month Slacker

It's February 4th and I've done absolutely nothing to commemorate Black History Month. Yes, it's true. I'm a Black History Month Slacker.

I haven't read my kids any books about the usual people who's lives are unshelved during Black History Month: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. Oh and let's not forget Frederick Douglass.

I haven't even read them any books about my personal favorite, Ida B. Wells. I've always thought she was truly bad-ass because she did so much anti-lynching work that she had to carry two pistols to protect herself. I mean, look at that picture! She's not playing around!

What else? I haven't been over to the California African American Museum. I haven't been over to Ancestry.com to dig up some of my illustrious ancestors.

I've worn a lot of black clothing so far. But that's every month so that's nothing special. It does have me reminiscing a little about how in the early '90s, conscious black folks began wearing little leather medallions of Africa. They started wearing red, black and green and explained that red was for the blood, black for the people and green for the land of Africa.

The movie Malcolm X came out and all of the sudden, it became trendy to wear an X on your shirt or hat. It became cool to wear an X hat and the little leather Africa necklace. It was the thing to listen to X-Clan and Public Enemy. And then Puff Daddy destroyed it all! Two steps forward, one step back...

Anyway, when I was a school teacher, we always had a Black History Month school assembly and I'd make the kids do various research projects on historical figures. But I believe that history isn't something that only happened 100 years ago. I believe we live history. So I'd talk about amazing black folks that were alive in the present, folks that they knew, like my principal, like the secretaries at the school, like their pastor. We'd talk about what those people did that was significant and special in their every day lives. I just wanted the kids to understand that everyday people change things too.

Do corporations have Black History Month observances? I've only ever worked for non-profits and trust me, no one ever hung up a poster that said, "We appreciate our black employees". So I can't imagine corporations do much.

Not to say that corporations do nothing. Corporations will advertise to black folks with their special Black History Month spreads. You know the type: "In honor of all your ancestors have sacrificed, drink this malt liquor!" Or how about the ones that say, "Because we want you to be black and proud, relax your hair with our all natural African ingredients."

Yeah, I'm definitely a slacker. All I did this weekend was watch "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi". Then again, I got to listen to James Earl Jones voicing Darth Vader. And Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian was smokin' hot.

They both count as black history makers, don't they? I mean, black folks got cast in Star Wars!

Hmm...wouldn't it have been something if in "Return of the Jedi" when Luke takes off Vader's helmet at the end, instead of the pasty white guy, his daddy is James Earl Jones?

I can hear it now, "Luke, Obi Wan did not know how to tell you. My son, you're half black! That is why the force is so strong within you!"

That would have been a real controversy! Just think, Barack Obama could have given Luke tips on having a white mom and a black dad.

I know, I'm crazy to think such a plot line would ever have been written into Star Wars. So I'll ask you, what do you do for Black History Month? Or are you a slacker like me?

Comments

1969 said…
Loving the new template. I am a huge slacker too.

I try to incorporate black history into our everyday lives and discussions.

Better yet, I hope to make Black History. :)
Liz Dwyer said…
1969,
I heard that! I'd like to make Black history too!

I like incorporating it into my everyday life as well because Black history is American history. I don't want it to be a once a year type thing at all.
Lisa Johnson said…
I've been thinking about how at this point in time, this month with Super Tuesday tomorrow, we are truly living Black History Month, which as you said is American history.

We do need to remember the past, but we are experiencing something so special right now with Obama, we need to get out and participate and see what is going on around us. Savor it all and remember. Twenty years from now, when everyone is looking back at this time, we will be the keepers of that history.
Anonymous said…
So far, I've celebrated the black wonder of the Giants' defensive line.

(I'll do better people, just let an ex-New Yorker have her moment)

Tomorrow I'll be voting for Barack Obama in the Georgia primary - now that's black history!
Jameil said…
You know I like to celebrate all along just like you and 1969. But I put up a new state of black america post today and at least two more should be forthcoming this month.
Unknown said…
my first response just disappeared, sorry if you got them both, I wont repeat, but essentially I wanted to thank you, this is one of my favorite subjects! Was trying to share http://www.chipublib.org/002branches/woodson/woodsonbib.html with you as well! Great post, awesome subject, ofcourse! I could talk about it all day, so much has been kept from us on just how really incredible Black History is, has been and will be!
I try to read Black History all year round too because it is American History. But it's nice to do a little extra when everyone else is talking about it in Feb.

I am looking for you to make some history.
Liz Dwyer said…
Anali,
Oh my goodness, I really think I might have a heart attack before tomorrow! I'm SO nervous! C'mon California!

I absolutely agree that we're living history right now and I can't wait to remind my sons of how they ran around the living room chanting " Go Orack Orama!"

Jali,
Oh my goodness, that was funny! It's Bears all the way for me but I was totally rooting for the Giants yesterday! Go Giants!

Jameil,
I'll come by and see after I pick my shorties up from school. Hey, did Tavis Smiley already do his this year? I remember last year some of the folks on there were all, "Why ain't Barack here?" and saying, "All skin ain't kin!" - They can eat crow now.

Houseonahill.org
I hate when that happens! I didn't get your first response but that's okay. Black history really is incredible, isn't it? I'm so glad I have the opportunity now to read and learn about the people and events that got left out of my history textbooks. I'll check out the link!

Cloudscome,
That's true. It is nice to do something extra meaningful. I guess sometimes I think there's a whole lot of BHM cheese out there.

And gosh, I don't know how I'm going to make history. Since my eldest now wants to be a famous actor, maybe I'll be known as the mom of an Oscar winner? No, just kidding. I don't know what I'm going to do that's going to make history, but I can feel it. Maybe my book (that I haven't written anything for in two weeks) will make history?
Lola Gets said…
Lando Calrissian was hot. I was only 7 years old when that movie came out, and I still knew it, lol.

You should come read my post about "Ghetto Month."

L
Miriam said…
I'm a slacker too. But -prompted by your post- I hope to do one soon. At least within Febuary!
I celebrate our history year round, and yes it is part of American history.

Why is Black History month during the shortest, coldest month of the year. I'm salty.

(go giants!!!)
Unknown said…
I'm definitely a Black History slacker, and I'm ashamed to say that. What kind of example am I setting for my offspring and grandson? Oh, the guilt...but as anali said, we are participating in history NOW.

I haven't been watching television so I get all of my election information from the Internet. I guess I can't handle too much in my life right now, but I do intend to vote. And I'm doing it early in the morning, JUST IN CASE. Strange things have happened, you know.

And Star Wars is the bomb! One of my homegirls bought me an Obi Wan Kenobi sword with sound effects a few months ago, and I celebrated by watching ALL SIX movies! I don't care who doesn't like it; I'm a Star Wars geek and PROUD of it! Lando Calrissian was sizzlin' hot!
Liz Dwyer said…
Lola,
Yes, he was definitely hot with his pressed hairdo! LOL! I remember my aunts and my mom talking about how fine Billy Dee was and I agreed!

Miriam,
Well, it is a leap year this month, right? So we have plenty of time!

NYC/CR,
But it's the month with Valentine's Day so it's just a reflection of how much love black folks have in their hearts. Okay, I know, that's a stretch but that's what I tell myself!

Angela,
Did you go storm your polling place already? :) There is so much conflicting info about these propositions, but all I want to know is why in the world someone would think we need even more gambling in this state? Just crazy!

I love that you have an Obi-Wan Kenobi sword. Sound effects too? That's awesome! I'm still trying to get over Jar Jar Binks but gosh, I love those movies too!
I wish I knew more about Western black history. I spoke with a guy in the Open Grove (gosh I don't remember his name.... um....) He said that there's a lot of black Western history - free blacks, slaves who moved west with their owners, black people owning businesses, etc. Having grown up in the West, and my ancestors immigrated to the west, I feel more closely aligned in the West.

Well, I guess I have something to do eh? ;)

Love the new blog - it's wonderful!
Miriam said…
Miriam,
Well, it is a leap year this month, right? So we have plenty of time!

ROFL!
I think every month is Black History month. There have been so many black men and women who made significant contributions to America whose names are not known and whose praises were never sung.

This is true in every field of human endeavor, not just entertainment.

And yes, Billie Dee Williams is very hot.
Sundry said…
Instead of offering anything substantive, I'll suggest that you watch "Bingo Long's Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings" for another James Earl Jones/ Billy Dee Williams hit. I don't know how it holds up, but I was 15 when it came out and I persuaded multiple people to take me to see it again and again. And it's about Negro League baseball, so it's sort of more or less historical.
Liz Dwyer said…
Claudia,
It's a really interesting topic, isn't it? I think they have some info about black cowboys at the Gene Autry Museum. I've never been in there but my husband says it's really cool. I also didn't know until a few years ago about how black folks were in the group of people that founded LA.

Miriam
Yes, more time than usual this year! Folks will be doing something special on the 29th!

Heart,
Yes, those people you never hear about, the folks who just kept on working hard and doing their thing, the folks who made a difference in their own neighborhoods and towns, the ones whose names I don't know, those are the people I admire the most.

Sundry,
Oh cool, I'll check and see if it's on Netflix. Or if the library has it. It'd be neat to see the two of them together.
I am a slacker but I fully intend on renting 'The Color Purple' or something this month.
Liz Dwyer said…
DMB,
That's a good idea. I've been trying to pick a book to read that would have some sort of relevance, but I haven't settled on one yet. I thought about rereading "Bullwhip Days" or else that book by the Delaney Sisters, "Having our Say".
Lydia said…
You crack me up!!

Well, since I am black 365 days a year, as are my children, we observe black history and black PRESENT every day!!

You have pointed out something very important. It is critical that we know where we came from and the sacrifices made for us, but it is JUST as important to recognize the history that is being made now!!

You are not a slacker girl! You know what time it is! Every day is a celebration of the accomplishments of African Americans!

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