Why do I hate Black History Month, you ask? Because every damn day should be Black History Month. At least this should be the case for the African-Americans out there and all thinking people who seek to better understand the truth. Think about it for a minute, slavery put an unholy toll on the recording of these stories in the first place, and then more problems are added to the mix with the …
Commodification: Money, Money, Money, Money.
We sell everything these days love, religion, health, you name it. As an African-American author, filmmaker and individual, the concept of Black History Month does fill me with a bit of dread. There will be a saccharin concern for all things Afro-centric and I hope I make the dubious list. I started writing on African traditional religions over two decades ago, so my daughters would have something positive to help make them feel proud. Today I am still faced with challenges. People, of every race, tell me “ religion isn’t real,” “Voodoo is evil,” “ Well, at least you don’t practice Santeria,” and as always I am left scratching my head. Voodoo is big business, not just spells, but doughnuts and music too, and I hear more cash registers ringing and fewer souls singing everyday.
I saw someone’s status the other day and it was simply “It’s Black History month, beware the White Walkers.” I have not stopped smirking. Now I am a regular viewer of Fox News, only because that makes me smirk too, and they other day they featured a talking middle class Caucasian head telling me how great Black history month is. You can see why the “White Walker” analogy is funny, cause it’s true.
We hear far too little about the lesser known parts of Black history. Obviously I am going to get on my soapbox here about Voodoo and other African Traditional Religions. The mighty Oprah Winfrey can put Zora Neale Hurston on the book club winter reading list, but when was the last time you heard someone mention her initiations as a New Orleans Voodoo and Haitian Vodou Priestess? The masses can be prompted to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, because that is literally the fiction we want to present. I don’t hate President Barack Obama, I just don’t know why there were scandalous rumors that his mother in law practiced Santeria. The Daily Democrat called them “the worst Obama slurs yet.” Don’t we have religious freedom in this country? I don’t know if she does or not, but it should be 100 percent ok for her to practice whatever religion she chooses.
We also hear far too little about the struggles of today. I have nothing against the phenomenal work of Dr. King or Rosa Parks, but frankly I see the modern shadows of Rosa Parks walking down the streets of the inner city every day. Those all to real shadows are most likely is dealing with the fact that they just had their food stamp benefits cut, and have to cope with substandard medical care and housing, because that is the reality for many folks today.
There is funding once a year, there is a small spotlight once a year, there is a bit of renewed glory once a year and for that I am grateful. But I don’t know about you, I am a bit tired of being served crumbs. A recent article by Louisiana Weekly quotes Evan Narcisse as saying “The notions that we as a people can be neatly packaged in one month of the year and that non-Blacks are only interested in our culture for 28 (29, if it’s a leap year) out of 365 days riles me.”
Fried Chicken and Watermelon
Now, there is nothing wrong with fried chicken and watermelon. I have been making a running joke about how chicken kept coming to the fore in the recent season of American Horror Story:Coven. Then there is the very recent controversy over the California’s Carondelet High School for Girls, that choose to put Watermelon, fried chicken and cornbread on their Black history month school menu. In 2014 however, that is not the image we wish to present. As it says in the commercial for my cookbook “No fried chicken in here.”
I know these words are going to attract their own special brand of haters, mainly kooks from all walks of life who won’t take the time to digest these words, but I’m writing them anyway. I’m too old to hold my tongue. Many years ago Howard Stern called me “a pleasing Octaroon” so I guess it’s high “Yellow” time I got called a not so pleasing one. As far as Black History Month is concerned I will struggle on searching to find continued hope, a promise for future, maybe even open-mindedness for all…there are as many experiences as there are people and each moment brings new opportunity.