Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them
"What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?" asked Frederick Douglass of the crowd gathered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852. "I answer," he continued, "a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham."
I am frustrated with Black History Month (Mois de l'histoire des Noirs) this year. I feel overwhelmed by the newspaper features, TV specials, artworks and concerts in "celebration" of black history. And, as a black woman of Jamaican parentage, and a scholar of Canadian history, I find myself questioning the direction Black History Month is going. Even though it is recognized on a national level, it has remained a series of local events and remembrances, and I'm wondering, how did we get here and is it time to rethink Black History Month?
A lot of people seem to think that because there isn’t obvious, tangible, see-it-from-a-mile-away slavery happening in their own neighbourhoods, that type of oppression is a thing of the past. But the reality is that slavery is very much alive and well in many parts of the world – including North America.
Even more than that, you help to sustain those systems of slavery. That’s right – you. Check out this cool interactive site that shows your “slavery footprint.” There’s an awesome 11-step questionnaire that gathers information about various aspects of your life and practices and produces the number of slaves working for you.
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"Who owns history? Not even the ones who made it." Kumasi, Black August Organizing Committee
Black History Month must be updated for the 21st century. February should be the month that we re-double our struggle against imperialism and white supremacy, and for reparations for slavery, the slave trade and colonialism.