Skip to comments.Who Needs "Black History Month"?
Posted on 02/28/2002 8:54:23 AM PST by Asmodeus
Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2002 / 15 Adar, 5762
Who needs "Black history month"?
By Thomas Sowell
WHAT is called Black History Month might more accurately be called "the sins of white people" month. The sins of any branch of the human race are virtually inexhaustible, but the history of blacks in America includes a lot more than the sins of white people, which are put front and center each February.
Obviously, there is current political mileage to be gotten from historic grievances. At a minimum, politicians and activists get the media attention that is the lifeblood of their careers. Then there are racial quotas, money for special minority programs and hopes for reparations for slavery. If nothing else, some people get excuses for their own shortcomings -- and excuses are very important.
One of the many penetrating insights of the late Eric Hoffer was that, for many people, an excuse is better than an achievement. That is because an achievement, no matter how great, leaves you having to prove yourself again in the future. But an excuse can last for life.
Those black achievements which did not involve fighting the sins of white people get little attention during Black History Month. Indeed, many of those achievements undermine the blanket excuse that white sins are what prevent blacks from accomplishing more. How many people have heard of Paul Williams, who became a prominent black architect long before the civil rights revolution, or about successful black writers in the 19th century?
There was also an outstanding black high school in Washington, D.C., which had remarkable achievements from 1870 to 1955. For example, most of its graduates during that period went on to college, even though most white high school graduates did not make it to college during that era. As far back as 1899, this school's students scored higher on standardized tests than two of the three white academic high schools in the District of Columbia.
Given the terrible educational performances of so many ghetto schools, you might think that there would be great interest in how this particular school succeeded when so many others failed. But you would be wrong. Where there was any reaction at all from the black establishment to an article I wrote about the history of this school, that reaction was hostility.
Dunbar High School was an achievement, but it destroyed a thousand excuses. The prevailing dogma is that all the failures of black schools were due to the sins of white people, including inadequate funding and racial segregation. But Dunbar was inadequately funded -- its class sizes were 40 or more -- and it was racially segregated for more than 80 years. Its history of success was therefore not welcomed by black "leaders."
Another big problem with Black History Month is its narrowness. You cannot understand even your own history if that is the only history you know. Some explanations of what has happened in your history might sound plausible within the framework of just one people's history, but these explanations can collapse like a house of cards if you look at the same factors in the histories of other groups, other countries, and other eras.
Shelby Steele has pointed out that whites are desperate to escape guilt and blacks are desperate to escape implications of inferiority. But, viewed against the background of world history, neither group of Americans is unique. Nor are the differences between them. Both their anxieties are overblown.
Black-white differences in income, IQ, lifestyle or anything else you care to name are exceeded by differences between innumerable other groups around the world today and throughout history -- even when none of the factors that we blame for the differences in America was present.
For example, when the Romans invaded Britain, they came from an empire with magnificent art, architecture, literature, political organization and military might. But the Britons were an illiterate tribal people. There was not a building on the island, and no Briton's name had ever been recorded in the pages of history.
The Britons didn't build London. The Romans built London. And when the Romans left, four centuries later, the country fragmented into tribal domains again, the economy collapsed, and buildings and roads decayed. No one would have dreamed at that point that someday there would be a British Empire to exceed anything the Romans had ever achieved.
Maybe we need a British History Month.
This term meaning the genuine article derives from a brand of whisky. The phrase the real MacKay , referring to a brand of whisky of that name, appears in 1856. It was officially adopted as an advertising slogan by G.Mackay and Co. of Edinburgh in 1870. In the US, it became McCoy. The first general (non-whisky) use is by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883. Stevenson uses the MacKay spelling.
Many claim that the term derives from Norman "Kid McCoy" Selby (1873-1940), an American champion boxer who was convicted of murder in 1924. An 1899 issue of the San Francisco Examiner refers to Selby as the Real McCoy, but as the term was well-established by this time Selby is not the origin.
Alternately, it is often suggested that the term derives from Elijah McCoy (1843-1929), an inventor of a type of hydrostatic lubricators in 1872. Although he is earlier than Selby, he is not early enough to be the origin. But while clearly not the origin of the term, both Selby and Elijah McCoy may have influenced the change in spelling from MacKay to McCoy
With my assistance (in computer usage only) she submitted a well researched and written assignment. She was rewarded a "C" for her efforts by her teacher Mrs. Martin, also a Black-American. When my niece came home and told me what her grade was I was upset because I knew she had worked hard on the project and knew her subject matter really well.
I requested and was granted a conference with Mrs. Martin. Prior to this conference I was able to talk to one of my nieces classmates and was told that Germanie received an "A" for her paper which was on Jesse Jackson. I asked Germanie if she would mind if I could use her paper to prove a point. Armed with both of the papers as evidence I also requested that the schools principal (I can't remember her name right now but she is also a Black-American) be present at the meeting.
I presented the papers to Mrs. Martin and requested she explain how my nieces paper rated a "C" and Germanie's paper which was poorly hand written, used atrocious grammar and spelling and really didn't present much detailed information on the subject matter received an "A". I was told that she thought Germanie had done her best on the project and that my niece had obviously had help. I explained to her that the only help Julia received from me was computer usage related and that I thought the reason Julia received a "C" was because of the subject matter. The principal also agreed with me and at first requested and upon Mrs. Martin's hesitation demanded that Julia's grade be changed to reflect her obvious effort and knowledge.
This all took place last week and yesterday my niece came home and told me Mrs. Martin was no longer her social studies teacher. I fact she no longer taught at that school. I don't know where she is teaching now or even if she is teaching. I do like to think that this was a was a big loss for the Multicultural/PC crowd though.
My kids actually began to dread black history month.....and so did at least one of their black friends. It is such a great big huge bunch of bunk, meant only to separate and divide us. Kids know this...you can't fool them very long.
. . . or a "Compared to What" Month.
Just occurs to me that subsuming GW's birthday into "President's Day" (thereby, BTW, equally celebrating x42) places George Washington on a level below Martin Luther King when both are set in "Black History" Month.
Truth is, it's really Democrat Month.
principal (I can't remember her name right now but she is also a Black-American) . . . requested and upon Mrs. Martin's hesitation demanded that Julia's grade be changed to reflect her obvious effort and knowledge.Great work. It won't do, tho, to leave it that the perp is named and the person who did it right is left anonymous. Gotta do better than than; it'd be even better if that story were forwarded to Professor Sowell--who is keenly aware of PC in education, and would love it.
While recognizing past inequities and being a firm supporter of equality, that aim is not furthured by changing the point of inequity. History should be taught in context of the whole...black, white, Native American, Confederate...all are relevant in the big picture, but to single one out and blow it out of proportion and rewrite the context is a great injustice, to all involved. It serves to breed misundersfanding and contempt between people and is counterproductive to the purpose it claims is its goal.
My kids actually began to dread black history month.....and so did at least one of their black friends. It is such a great big huge bunch of bunk, meant only to separate and divide us. Kids know this...you can't fool them very long.The first rule of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is,
Don't Criticize, Condemn, or ComplainThe first rule of the Democratic Party (and of journalism) is,
Don't>Criticize, Condemn, orand Complain
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