Chairman's Corner: "ICDHR Chairman Reflects on the Blackface and its Historical Impact in America"
Conversely, our schools taught young children, both black and white, with books like Dick and Jane, which portrayed white children as being from middle-class families, with parents dressed in nice clothes and using proper English. Teachers of the time presented such comparisons as factual which fed the racism that continues to plague our nation.
I can remember, as a child, the laughs of little white children as they mocked what they saw and read in those hate filled, distorted books. As a result, those children grew up with an attitude of superiority and black children grew up with feelings of inferiority - all in the name of education.
This mocking of African Americans as a form of entertainment can be traced to slavery. In one example, while the wives of the slave masters met and enjoyed tea and conversation together,
their husbands would assemble in the barn. They would bring in a male slave, referred to as a “big buck” and a female slave and force them to have sex for the mockery and entertainment of the watching slave masters. During slavery and continuing through the appalling Jim Crow era in American History, white parents would gather their children to watch public hangings of blacks as entertainment, often bringing food for a picnic.
Today, there are those who fail to take the killing of young, unarmed black boys seriously and will argue that such acts do not constitute lynching. They fail to understand that even though we have evolved from the use of a rope slung over a tree, murdering without cause, hiding behind the obscurity of entitlement without fear of consequence, is the same thing.
Currently, we have a President of the United States, who mocks the people of Africa and Haiti and openly fosters the belief that where immigrants are concerned, they should come from predominantly white countries such as Norway. Many Americans brush off these statements by simply saying, “that's Donald”, thereby legitimizing the exclusion and stereotyping of people of color. Those who accept these views further demonstrate ignorance in not knowing that Africa is a continent which contains numerous nationalities. Each February we celebrate Black History Month; that it is necessary to have a designated month at all further illustrates a lack of seriousness when addressing the history of our nation in such a way that it is a factual sharing of experiences and contributions that crosses all Americans, regardless of race, culture, gender and nationality. Nevertheless, as we reflect this month, let us acknowledge that exclusion often carries with it stereotypes that are deeply buried in our history. Therefore, I call on politicians, community leaders, law enforcement, educators, those that promote faith and all who profess to appreciate diversity to demonstrate that to have diversity and inclusion, there must be more than one skin color, and all must be respected. (back to page one / home)