Mimetalker's Blog

a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

Mimetalker

Mimetalker
Location
Illinois, USA
Birthday
January 26
Bio
On this blog: All words (other than identified quotations) © Sharon Nesbit-Davis, All rights reserved. *********************************** ********************************** You can find me on Facebook: Sharon Nesbit-Daivs, or "The Mime Writes" Logo Design by Dianaani ********************************** I work as the Education & Community Engagement Director of a Regional Arts Council which means I beg "the deciders" to fund and support the arts for everyone, not just the rich. *********************************** I am also a mime. For those that hate mimes, I understand. But you'll never find me annoying people on the street, unless I'm living there. I'm a "concert mime" ...which means you have to buy a ticket. I haven't done much mime lately...I'd rather be writing. *********************************** I've been married to my one and only since 1976. Still happy. Still in love. Two kids, eight grandkids. In college I became a Baha'i (a world religion whose main theme is unity). It keeps me relatively sane in a world gone mad.

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Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 3, 2012 2:37AM

February is for White Folks Too

Rate: 33 Flag

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It’s February and that means my son-in-law, who is African American and a spoken word poet, is booked solid with school appearances. He’ll share Black History through his poetry and hope these words will alter attitudes of mind, heart and spirit. By the end of February he will be exhausted, but he’ll have a year to recuperate.  

Dr. Carl G. Woodson single handedly started “Negro History Week” in 1926. He chose a week in mid February because it was the birth month of two individuals significant to the change of life conditions for African Americans: Abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. It began as a week and expanded to a month because there is so much to tell. Woodson was a historian and inaugurated it because it's important for people to know their contribution to humanity. He hoped it would outlive its usefulness. Woodson was an optimist. But then he would have to be to have been born of slave parents and end up with a doctorate from Harvard.

Eighty-six years later it is still needed because it’s never been taken seriously by everyone and by that I refer mostly to white people who believe it is not our history.

When whites discuss American slavery someone will point to the barbarism of other cultures including African and that Africans sold Africans. All true. But what was unique and devastating about American slavery is rarely considered. In America ill conceived science and the Bible were used to not only justify it but to prove Blacks were not fully human. Slavery ended but those ideas were not retracted and continued to be taught and assumed for generations. It's why when I was in college there were girls from small rural towns who believed Blacks grew tails at midnight. They heard that all their lives and never questioned it.

We know what happens in a family when horrific abuse is committed and no one acknowledges it or gets counseling. Refusing to talk about it or minimizing the damage doesn't make it disappear. It effects every family member...the abused and the abuser and the ones on the perimeter. Some escape and find their own way to heal. But not everyone has that fortitude or even understands how sick they are.

I think whites are still ashamed and believe if we were black we'd hate us for what was done.  That's something we need to get over. It is time to take that unflinching look at what happened, understand the impact, and begin the process of reconciliation. 

I hoped we were coming to the point Dr. Woodson envisioned and could eliminate Black History Month because we were ready to be truthful. But last year a conservative group in Texas forced through changes in textbooks to portray slavery in a more positive light and this year the Tennessee Tea Party renewed an effort to remove slavery references and mention of the country's forefathers being slave owners.

We need to fight ignorance with knowledge. That is why it is important for whites embrace Black History. Whites need to call other whites on the lies. 

That anyone survived the horrors of slavery is amazing. If whites can thrill at the accomplishments of black athletes and share in their victory and wear the T shirts, why can't we feel proud of Black Americans who survived slavery? And cheer those who have became successful despite institutionalized racism? 

Fellow white folks, it’s February. Check your TV guide and watch a reality show that will restore your faith in the human spirit.

And then tell everyone.

 

*********************************************************** 

This link will most likely upset you (I hope):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/tea-party-tennessee-textbooks-slavery_n_1224157.html

This one, "Be the healing", will inspire:

http://www.joydegruy.com/ 

Photo: Getty Images 

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Oh you have a good heart and more...Thanks for sharing..

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A difficult subject to express. You did it with grace. Message heard and appreciated and reminds me of a story I'll put up either here or fictionique. Thanks for this.
Your voice is strong, Sharon, and your song good and true.
I do not think white people should stop feeling ashamed. While I am not Catholic, I view this as they view the concept of original sin. Although I did not keep slaves, my parents and their parents did not keep slaves, we were born with the sin of slavery, and in order to have a good life and pay off our karmic debt, must live embracing human equality. I also feel we must accept black anger at us, and not deflect or deny it. I feel the same way about men, with regard to women. Maybe, hopefully, after many more generations have respected the sin, race and gender will become non-issues. But that it not right now.
Greenhorn:

What a load of crap. Let me remind you that no a single white or black person has any personal experience with slavery. Sure it is a part of the Country’s ugly past but so are a lot of ugly crimes in our past. Furthermore, I don’t “accept” black anger towards whites any more than I accept white anger towards blacks.

If anything, your treatment of black history month as some kind of pay-off of “karmic debt” perpetuates the racism you claim to abhor. It’s the reason a lot of white and black people refer to Martin Luther King Day as not a day of remembrance but as "annual hate white people day" and February as "annual hate white people month".
I truly hope this becomes an EP because everyone needs to hear this message you so skillfully convey. R
I think you are right.
But we also need to move on too. We must celebrate the progress that was made. It can become a copout to get stuck in the victim role. A victim is never responsible for anything and can always blame his problems on someone else. I see a constant obsession with this in some areas, and an unwillingnesss to grow and change.
The new reality is that this is a multiracial society now, and that no one group will dominate. Being a traditional minority at the moment also has its benefits. Whites can and are now victims of discrimination. A true progressive vision will include all people as victims and victimizers.
Thanks for the history lesson Mime - and you are so right - attempting to pretend something didn't happen doesn't mean it didn't happen -we have so far to go.
The argument that no one alive today has held slaves, ergo we need to just let it go is invalid. Why? Because it is not the holding of slaves that created the problem as much as the justification for holding them. That justification has been handed down through the generations, directly or indirectly, via general attitudes toward African American people as a whole. Skin color, among other things, is the detail that allows us to tell one from the other. There are still people who believe blacks are inferior beings and they show this bias constantly. A friend of mine, who is a white woman, complained just yesterday that someone mistook her black husband for a delivery person when he entered his own apartment building, a building in which they have resided together for years. It is this kind of seemingly innocent mistake that perpetuates the anger on the parts of blacks, and the shame that haunts some whites. It is the American legacy we all share, whether we like it or not.

Lezlie
Thank you for this Mime. You gave me some needed perspective for a piece I'm writing which relates to the same subject. I've always had mixed feelings about black history month. After all isn't our history simply American history, and shouldn't it be taught all year? But then reading you and others, I'm reminded that all Americans, black and white, need a nudge to focus their attention on anything in this technological age. We are all doing and learning so much. I can see how a month set aside can be useful.
When it's called Black History month, it does seem like it's the history of white people. And it encourages people to view the history of 15% of our nation as a separate little niche, taken out once a year and safely ignored for the rest.

Black history has to be integrated into US history. It's actually a useful lesson about how majority rule and compromise can perpetuate a gross wrong. About the forces that preserve the status quo and try to justify it as right. I think there are plenty of parallels in the modern day.
My uncle is a genealogist, and in his research found a document. Some family member with our last name, selling a family of slaves. It's horrible to see--I have a copy somewhere. Man, woman, and children. At least they were sold together. It's haunted me for years. I wonder about finding the descendants now. What would I say? "My great great great grandfather owned yours. Sorry about that."
Thanks for this, Mimetalker. It is so true, our country's history of slavery greatly shaped who we are collectively today as a nation, and it does affect our national psyche (as well as individual lives). I agree with Carl's words that "We should learn from the past, everyone's past, and be taught how to shape a better future." It sounds like that's exactly what your son-in-law is helping the children to do...wishing him a great, full month of speaking and teaching!
I love that you love your son-in-law enough to put yourself in his shoes and that is what is at the heart of this piece. Then I read through the remarks and found Johnny Fever's remark totally wrong headed. I'm in my late 50's and I remember segregation which was mandated by white law, not black folks we had no say. So I always marvel at the people who think that our history begins and ends in 1865. For this reason alone Johnny Fever you are the perfect specimen for what Mimetalker is asking to be done. I do hope that you will consider expanding your historical references all the way to a couple of weeks ago when a Presidential candidate said out loud that he didn't want to make black people's lives better. Then think about how well that would have gone over if our current President said it. You can then sell your blinders and earplugs on Craig's List and join the real world.
Great post, significant message. As racism rises and old hatreds go unchecked, it is significant to keep standing up. There are a number of ignorant people out there, and some of them don't even know it...
It is not my intention to argue for or defend my personal beliefs, or proscribe them for everyone. I will say that as an educator in a state college, where more than a third of my students are of color, acknowledgment and acceptance of racial anger and suspicion go a long way toward opening dialog and building trust, which make for better learning. I’m grateful for the awareness that black people are pissed off at white people, are uncomfortable expressing this, just as women are about anger at men, something I get. It is ground best treaded upon delicately and with respect. When someone says, "I’m not a racist, and that’s what matters", a message is sent that it will be difficult to have a productive discussion about race.

We all have blind spots with regard to racial misunderstanding, stereotype, and bias. Blind spots don’t equal a racist, but they can bring about a painful experience for someone else. For me, the original sin concept doesn’t mean I must accept a racist identity. It means I have a lifelong responsibility to cultivate actions and views committed to equal experience. It means acknowledgment of the reality of my white privilege. It means listening. It means practicing and maintaining awareness. It means being of service to those who got an unfair deal. Teaching is a good place for that, so I'm lucky.
Desnee:

Greenheron never mentioned the word segregation, his comments were about slavery. But just the same, if you want Black History Month to be about making white people feel “ashamed”, then you are also perpetuating racism in this country.

Also perpetuating racism in this country is quoting a presidential candidate but failing to finish the rest of his sentence; “…by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money”. To be sure, it’s a statement Santorum regrets, but your shameless effort to play the race card is more evidence that you are the racist in the room. Or take L in the Southeast, she thinks whites are handing down their racist predisposition towards blacks. Its people like you, Greenheron and Southeast that belittle black history month, souring what would otherwise be an educational month and turning it into “annual hate white people month”.
1. I am a woman, not a man. I am white, not green.

2. Lezlie is a woman of mixed race.

3. Desnee, whose smart thoughtful voice is a new one to me, is apparently a woman of color, and an activist.

4. I am honored and delighted that you linked my name with theirs. Thank you, Johnny!
And we should be fighting against racism the whole year 'round.
@Johnny Fever: If they aren't somehow passing it along, how would you explain its persistence?
Well Johnny I certainly don't need to defend what green heron or L in the southeast said as they acquitted themselves quite nicely. You remind me of a video that I just watched of a woman calling a black postal worker the n-word then in the next breath telling him she was not a racist and he made her say those things. Whether you take part of the Santorum sentence or the whole sentence into account the meaning is clear. We black people are dependent on that room full of white people to give us our welfare checks. And he being a great white leader will show us how we can work our way out of the lopsided financial straits we find ourselves in. So I guess he will go back into time and undo every law, code, policy, and rule that has been written to give you an advantage over me. Because unless or until he can do that he will not be able to drag you kicking and screaming into the reality of Black History Month being about our accomplishments in spite of people such as yourself. You are the one whose blind hatred is on display here. Did it ever occur to you that while 3 women from diverse backgrounds were able to view this not as a negative but as a tool it is you who saw it as Hate White People Month? I don't think that you will be able to see that for a moment, but it sure feels good pointing it out, even to you.
That we are still talking about it in 2012 proves the impact it has had on us as a society. Look how long it is taking to heal from wounds caused by HUMAN ignorance. Yes. "White" people are humans, too.
I have sometimes wondered how African Americans could choose some religions, realizing the history of hatred and bigotry. Even among Quakers, there has been an imperfect realization of all humans are equal. Thankfully, I challenged the bullshit I was raised with (not as a Quaker) and continue to learn about the many insidious and sometimes invisible ways in which we continue to demean and dehumanize one another. thanks for this.
L in the Southeast:

I commented on this blog because I took offense to Greenheron stating that I should feel “ashamed”, have “karmic debt”, and “accept” black anger by virtue of being white. Sure some white people are taught to be racist, just like some black people are taught to be racist. What you call “persistent” racism I see as a white population far different than the white population of the past. Have you noticed the skin color of the President?

Desnee:

Santorum speaks for a very small part of the Republican electorate. Having said that, what he said is factually correct. As a percent of total population, blacks are far more likely to be dependent on welfare as well as other Government programs intended for poor Americans. Santorum is right to want to give them the opportunity to provide for themselves. Or did you conveniently choose to forget about the second half of his sentence? One final question, do you agree with Greenheron or not?
As I read the comments, I am saddened by the division and enmity between the two sides that have emerged. There are good points made by those on both conflicting sides, and I'm betting the people who made those comments are good people, too. It's sad, because the disunity is what will stop any progress.

I read the Huffington Post article and it seemed the focus of that conservative party was about the reputation of that county's founding fathers, not slavery. The removal of info on slave owners was secondary, along with separation of church and state and the definition change of the US as a republic vs. democracy. The slavery bit didn't seem to be their objective.

There were great feelings and heart in your blog, Sharon, it's obvious this topic is important to you, great job!

But while emotions and feelings are a good thing, it's also a good thing to be objective and unified...with unity we can move forward.
I do appreciate people sharing their thoughts and feelings. It is only when we can freely talk and discuss and learn from each other can we grow. I encourage people who care about this to visit the link on the post "Be the healing".
February is the month when the issue of racism comes up and we find that it still is an open wound that continues to tear us apart with no solutions in sight. We celebrate African American achievement and promise, the heroes and heroines of the past and the voices of the future. Then March arrives and everything gets back to "normal"--racism is rarely discussed unless related to violence, poverty, or crime. I wish February was a longer month. Whether we're talking about "white guilt" or "black anger," at least we're talking. There's a saying, "you're as sick as your secrets." Once the secrets are exposed, the less insidious and toxic they are. All of us would benefit by open discussion--all year long.
Excellent piece and congrats on the EP - well deserved.

I'm presently engrossed in the book 'The Help,' which astutely covers the history of race. It took me a long time to realise history is important in helping us understand ourselves and others and a necessary part of moving forward for the better.

Equality and racism are continuous battles, which need addressing by everyone.
Black History Month, like Women's History Month (March, fyi) is still needed. They are needed so that people from those groups and other groups can learn of the triumphs of many (not some--many) individuals against ridiculous odds and have an understanding of the injustices suffered that constituted those odds. Frankly, I'd love to see Latino History Month and Asian American History Month as well. Having grown up in a city (Detroit) scarred by racism, and having seen some changes in attitudes among those I grew up with, as well as other social changes, I am a firm believer that we have made tremendous progress in terms of racial attitudes in this country, but it is clear that more is needed. If one or two kids open their eyes as a result of what they learn during Black History Month, we're that much farther along.
Johnny Fever you're hell bent on being white... I mean right, I seldom see a difference when I'm speaking to people such as yourself. Santorum is right to say that he will bring blacks onto the job rolls great, more power to him, because we all know that we blacks would much prefer welfare checks over paychecks and until we get a leader who can show us how to get them we are stuck on the welfare roles. Now you may not have said any of that but that is exactly what you said. In these days we need to interpret the code. We blacks have long broken the code and regardless of how you attempt to present it that is what you have said. For those who wish for us to unify I will say this find a new word because if you think for one moment that I will stand with a Johnny Fever you are seriously and sadly mistaken. If you think I will let his words stand as written and not give their true meaning, again you are mistaken. I'm not that person who appears on Rachel Maddow or one of those other shows who doesn't point out the glaring and intended racism in those opinions. It isn't for everybody and I accept that, but I'll be damned if I don't address it.
I remember being surprised to learn the forefathers owned slaves. Later I was shocked to understand they only wanted white land owning men to vote. Knowing these things helped me understand they were flawed humans and flawed humans are not going to create a system of government that is perfect. It will need to change and it has. I read the Huffington Post article, and while they changes the Tea Party is suggesting is not only about removing slavery and mention of forefathers owning slaves, it is still a part of their suggestion. I think it is a laughable proposal, but seeing that the textbooks in Texas apparently have been changed made me stop laughing. How did that happen? Were people not paying attention? Not caring? Or did they not want to enter into discussions that might make them feel uncomfortable? Disunified? Making nice doesn't work against injustice. You can state your belief without being nasty, but you need to speak up.
"Healing begins by simply telling the truth. " How true that is!
Thank you, Sharon, for this post and for the links. Both evoked the effect you hoped for.
R♥
A nice written piece... Sadly racism still exists... sometimes more subtle, but it is definitely recognizable. I agree that we should move on, but it can be difficult when we are reminded of racisim in some way... Unfortunately, the physical and mental wounds of hatred will forever be embedded in American history...
Deseree:

I rest my case. Enjoy hate white people month.
Johnny Fever apparently your case rest on you being the last white person in the world and if that is the case you may be correct.
If you go to the Museum of Black History in Baltimore, your heart would break the mean spiritedness and bigotry. Thank you for your post.
This is one of my old stories that's worth repeating here.

When I was a teacher in LA's South Central, every home room period public announcement had a segment about Black History Month. I didn't mind too much, but it annoyed me a little. Finally, I told a black teacher that they should have a White History Month to honor great white people like Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin, Al Capone, and John Wayne Gacy.

Because when you want a sociopathic serial killer or genocide commiter, nothing beats a white man.
For Black History Month, everyone should be required to read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. An eye opening book about how people of color are still being abused and discriminated against. An example being that there are currently more blacks in prison today than there were slaves in 1850. Many for non violent drug offenses even though blacks are statistically no more likely to use drugs than whites.
In school, history was my favourite subject. I would have felt cheated if I thought there were omissions or that certain facts were glossed over to make it politically correct.
"But last year a conservative group in Texas forced through changes in textbooks to portray slavery in a more positive light and this year the Tennessee Tea Party renewed an effort to remove slavery references and mention of the country's forefathers being slave owners."
Isn't there some famous quote that says to forget history is to have it repeat itself. Do you think that's what the Tea Partyers are hoping for in the long run?
I am not american, I am a witness . It is white month every month, I see what your underlying motives are, and how can race be forgotten when a white man can hunt down and gun a black boy carrying skittles and ice tea in his hand, and walk away as a free man. Its within the very core of the system, and its the ignorance and arrogance that allows you to believe that you are supreme, when in your minds you know you can be out bred. Your fears will hunt you to hell.. so you can think that we are over it all you want.. but you are the very people that are causing the door to open wide, and the Leaders will not be forgotten, because they still exist today.
Why dont you research where you are all from, and take a good look at where YOU are from. Because we all come from somewhere, and If you think you are born american blood, then you are claiming to be native american then you can hang youselves, and put the fire water to the flames. How would you feel if you child was murdered for his race? Its the hate you bred into the innocent.. and there will be a repercussion of that. It called God.
It's so true. We have a whole TV news network in this country which dedicates a portion of its efforts to convincing people, or perhaps stroking people's egos and confirming their existing bias, that reverse racism against whites is the biggest race problem in America.

We need to work hard to overcome that ugly inertia of white fear and dishonesty. How do we gain some kind of appreciation of what the true toll of three centuries of systemic torture might be, over three centuries of the cumulative psychological pain of not being allowed the privileges and joys of full humanity in the eyes of society, and over three centuries of the cumulative opportunity costs of systemic denial of economic rights and educational rights?

Even when a black man becomes President of the United States, he doesn't receive the respect he deserves for his extraordinary accomplishments, he doesn't receive the same respect that white Presidents have been accorded in the past, even by their political rivals.

Too many whites want to pretend it's all over, that we've severed ourselves from the past and we can pretend it never happened. That seems totally wrong to me.