There are certain names that are inseparable from America’s history of ingenuity. Names such as Ford, Bell, Morse, Salk, and Edison are commonly known as belonging to several of America’s brightest lights. However, there are many others—comparatively unknown others—who also catalyzed America’s march toward greatness, and I fault America’s primary, middle, and high schools for not exposing the contributions of those undeservedly obscure creative geniuses. A number of those relatively unknown inventive wonders were black, and I believe that knowledge of their achievements can only help to dispel the myth of mental inferiority that hounds people of African descent.
I’ve lost track of how many times good, solid business decision-making on my part was attributed to instinctive behavior or luck, or followed by a question such as, “You didn’t really plan for that, did you?” Yes, I’ve lost it a few times and responded with smart-alecky comments such as, “No, the programming fairy waved its magic wand and put in all 32,000 lines of code,” or my favorite retort, “If not me, who? You?” Unfortunately, it’s the same thing in pro sports. When a black player executes a good play it’s often chalked up to “natural ability,” but let the same action be performed by a non-black player and it often becomes “a smart, heads-up play.” Just listen to any team sporting event and you will likely hear such comments.
It’s clear there exists a bigoted perception that you can take the darkies out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the darkies. Sadly, statements to that effect were made to me (and to other black workers) directly and repeatedly by a few extremely biased people of other races, all of whom had something to gain by demeaning the skills and talents of their black co-workers. Actions, beliefs, and comments reflecting an unwavering conviction in the inferiority of black people are largely rooted in misinformation or absolute ignorance, thus it is education—as in the truth, not that which is politically expedient—that is one of the keys to resolving America’s racial ills.
I must stress that I am not advocating the inclusion of the “first African-American to…” as historical information to be dispensed in America’s classrooms. I believe that disseminating such knowledge in a general classroom setting would mean the first of every racial and ethnic group would then have to be listed in milestone fashion for even the most minor of achievements. It must be understood that “the first” in America tends to wear a white face simply due to America’s slowly-fading culture of racial exclusion (the reduction of which greatly angers White Nationalists) and the fact Caucasians still outnumber every other group here in America. Accordingly, as far as “the first” of most creative efforts is concerned, “the first” is mostly white. C’est la vie. The past is indelible; it is something we can neither change nor forget. Instead, we can only go forward with the lessons taught to us by history.
The exposure of America’s youth to the significant achievements of a wider range of creative Americans will open their minds to the comprehension and acceptance of African descendants (such as those in this link) as beings possessed of enormous creativity and intelligence. It’s either that or we continue to please bigots everywhere by perpetuating ignorance and celebrating intolerance.
Let’s disappoint the bigots.
All the best,
- The above image is courtesy of Pexels.com.