Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Morgan Freeman on Black History Month

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

It's Feb 1 - and the beginning of Black History Month, 2012. I thought I would share Morgan Freeman's thoughts on the month. In short...he thinks it is ridiculous. What do you think? He also thinks we should stop talking about race - an intriguing proposition to be sure. But do you think that is even possible? Do you think the majority of Americans are prepared (or even willing, in some cases) to look past race?

I will add that I agree with him on one point for certain. Black history IS American history - it's hard to deny...although I am sure some of you out there will try.

In related news...this year marks the sesquicentennial of a very important decision - in 1862 President Lincoln decided the time was right to push the war in a new direction - and look towards emancipation as a Union war aim. All he needed was a victory, and he got that in September. With this in mind I should be talking more and more about slavery, emancipation, and the Union cause this year - so stay tuned.



  1. I can see the point about it being not a good idea, and I'm not sure I disagree about it.

    One thing that bugs me, though, is that 2 of my friends on facebook announced they would honor Black History Month by reading a book authored by an African-American. I could perhaps understand them trying to read about a particular person or event they thought was important, but simply to pick a book based on the skin color of the author struck me as being just wrong, almost counter to the spirit of Black History Month. "Patronizing" was one word that came to mind.

    Then again, is using skin color to pick the author any different than deciding to read a biography because the subject was African-American? If I, or anyone else, decided to read a certain book because the subject was an African-American, is that less patronizing than deciding based on the author's skin color?

  2. Frankly, I think it's Morgan Freeman who is "ridiculous." Neither the fact that he is black nor the fact that he is a celebrity lend his words and opinions any credence. I agree with him that black history is American history, and there's a case to be made for his comment that it shouldn't be relegated to one month. BUT, until the true experiences, contributions and histories of black Americans are recognized and taught as integral threads in the tapestry of American historical memory, things like Black History Month are still necessary.

    Is it a bad idea because it upsets some white people? I think the real discussion should be *why* does it upset those people? I've heard the standard, ignorant argument asking, "Well, where is White History Month?" And the old response still holds true: "EVERY month is White History Month." It's okay that black kids see the history of their people in this country glossed over for 11 months out of the year but folks are going to quibble over one month that has an educational focus on that history. Shame. It's black people and those interested in their history that should be upset that we have the shameful need to even entertain a "special" period to study this history.

    As for stopping talk about race and racism. Good luck with that. America has sat on its dirty little secret of endemic racism for so long that it will always raise its ugly head. We can pretend a color-blind society all we want but that fiction only serves pipe-dreamers, racists who want to remain under their rocks and those squeamish about confronting a very real issue that plagued our society, country and culture for hundreds of years now. And it will continue to plague us until we discuss it.

    But look at the reaction to Obama's rational and measured suggestion for national dialogue on racial issues in this country. You'd have thought he slapped somebody's mama!

    Two things in closing: 1. Why is it that there are dozens of ethnic and culture based organisations, holidays and celebrations in this country, many of very long standing, that one never hears any outcry over, yet all you have to do is add the words "black" or "African-American" and it's a separatist travesty?

    2. I fully agree with the prior poster's assessment of his co-workers' patronizing attitudes. I'd answer his question by saying that, in my opinion, deciding to read a book based on someone's skin color is infinitely more patronizing than reading a biography of a historical personage because the subject is African-American. If you choose to read about a person because it might enhance your knowledge of black history in this country, you're showing thought and care. Picking something off a shelf because the author is black, regardless of subject matter, is in the words of my great-grandmother, "triflin'."

  3. It's exciting to see people contesting the misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Mr. Freeman's words. It's time we get clear about the message from this interview - hopefully the following information helps.