A Cherry-Tape Joint on Black History

Words by Matthew Spence:

America erases history more than a 14-year-old who just discovered porn. We learn that as we get older, especially if you’re a POC. Growing up being a black kid, speaking from my own experience, Black History Month was a celebratory month that felt as if it wasn’t getting the deserved attention it needed. Well, in hindsight, at the time I was probably focused on playing my DS and not getting caught playing my brothers’ San Andreas (Did he have it on PS2 or XBOX, you guess?).

It felt like Groundhog Day, constantly living the same educational cycle of the usual figures we hear about: Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman (which let me clarify, I’m in no way trying to say nor imply that we shouldn’t be learning about them). From elementary to high school, it felt more of an afterthought of a month (hell, it’s the shortest month in the year for Christ sake) and that’s very upsetting, to where you think the aforementioned figures were the only people to contribute to American History.

It started to feel like info that goes through one ear and out the other. If I wanted to get bombarded with info I’m aware of already, I’d trigger my dad for a lengthy movie monologue, a John Singleton-type beat if you will. Now at the age of 23 (Nobody likes you at this age btw) a bit wiser and geeky combined with lessons from people like my brother, art forms such as introspective movies, and reading autobiographies [Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, for example] and so on. Building upon building, I’ve learned black people have to do their own history lessons. Whether it be by the grace of good college courses (if you wanna attend, to begin with), in the comfort of your house, or when you’re dicking around with friends who tell you random factoids. Doesn’t matter whether it’s research for a 60-page thesis or a quick Google search from a shower thought, as putting forth an effort is important. Of course, depends on your state, location, school district, and all that technical shit, you might get a diluted version of history. Cutting out movements and figures like deleted scenes.

Behind “Door A” is Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movement is a major pinpoint, but it feels it’s usually the safe picked. Behind “Door B” we have the Malcolm X/Black Panther Movement of the 60s and 70s. While Dr. Kings’ approach was more conventional in terms of the masses, uniting and changing with Peace, Malcolm was on the opposite side with a more “By Any Means Necessary” radical approach (Ironically, later in their lives before their deaths they would switch ideas with Martin becoming more radical and Malcolm being more peaceful). The Black Panther Party was an organization that took power into their hands presenting ideas of self-defense/protection while also serving the community by providing food, clothes, and more.

 

[Fuck J. Edgar Hoover and R.I.P. Fred Hampton]

Look at the number of everyday things that have been or are tattooed in society that Black People have created and/or have a hand in that don’t get acknowledged as such. Yet, we have to remember Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb (or well at least a more advanced one for the time). Refrigerators for your Chinese Takeout, Fire extinguishers in case your nephew finds your lighter, traffic lights, lawnmowers, clothes dryer, A/C for the hot ass summers, kitchen tables, mops, street-sweepers, typewriters, door knobs, Peanut Butter,….fucking Ice Cream wouldn’t be what it is now without being revolutionized by Augustus Jackson. Everyone loves Ice Cream yo. Now, that list of inventions was a bit unorganized, but the point remains of so much has been added to this country and world by the genius of Black People but yet gets hidden away like our secrets and bad report cards.

Whichever approach you’ll have whether you’re trying to fulfill the shoes of the rightfully radical Huey Freeman (or P. Newton) or you’re just trying to learn a bit more about Black History, it’s better late than never. It’s tight. Cause in America, learning about Black History feels like a side quest than one of the main objectives. “Black History is American History”, why that’s a phrase…. because it’s true. From brave figures spanning from the days of slavery to life-changing inventors to a lengthy scroll of figures who helped reshape society in someway in some aspect. Politics/government, music, film, poets/authors, fashion, science, mathematics, Black figures in the LGBTQ community and so much more.

“Sho-Nuff” to quote Spike Lee

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