Celebrating Black History Month
by G. Michael Tzerai, Feb 27, 2013
Slavery - Reflecting Back to the Birth of our Nation
United States was born out of the desire for freedom and justice. From
the old world, people came here and won their freedom from colonial
rule – from Great Britain. From a realization that they did not
want to be like the "old Europe" was born a constitution that was
revolutionary in its own time and that is unique because it has
survived over 300 years.
the leaders of our country didn't address was the issue of
slavery. Paramount to the tasks at hand were more pressing
issues: holding the union together, identifying what type of
union and crafting a language for the constitution that could be handed
to future generations.
question of slavery had to wait one hundred years. Its answer nearly
killed the union. The American Civil War was probably the most
expensive war per capita, in the loss of lives and in the destruction
of property. The country nearly went broke with this war.
Slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation spoken by President
Lincoln but it didn't quite end well. It persisted in many ways
until the question was again revisited another one hundred years later
with the explosion of the Civil Rights Movement which helped make this
country a little bit more caring about each other.
a long time, a long history: one hundred years, another hundred
years and another hundred years again.
The Image of the United States
The United States continues to have an image problem throughout the
world by virtue of its superpower status and the privilege that comes
with it, but it is changing - improving. We realize we can no
longer be the superpower we thought we would be after World War
II. One of the sources of strength for a country is raw materials
which, and in the past, were secured through wars. Wars are not
just expensive but go against the grain of the morals of society and
also help to create an image problem.
the image persists that the United States is a superpower that will
subjugate the smaller countries all over the world. This needs to
change. The defeat of extremists and the lesser use of drone
missiles, fair and balanced trade with our neighbors - all of this
near election of John Kerry for President, who opposed the Vietnam War,
and the election and re-election of President Obama - all send a clear
message to the outside world that things are changing. The United
States' representatives to the world, Secretaries of State, Hilary
Clinton and John Kerry and the previous UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, have
also contributed to the momentum of change.
The Beauty of the Makeup of the United States
One approach to solving the image problem is to start with who we are
as a people. You can think of America as the composition of everybody
else in the world because of the number of immigrants who have made
America their home. That makes the United States stand out as
fundamentally different from most every other country in the
world. How does the United States manage the differences and,
yet, remain a superpower?
United States provides a social fabric that allows all people who have
come here from somewhere else (immigrants – all generations) to do
well, then the world may begin to understand there is something right
about the United States. Through treating our own people
correctly, we can have a positive influence around the world. This is
especially true on the issue of human rights. There are gross
violations of human rights everywhere – minorities of every kind are
beauty of the makeup of the United States is that it provides an
opportunity for the United States to demonstrate our support of human
rights starting at home. Imagine being able to show that all
groups comprising our country are doing well, as the Constitution lays
it out. All members of our society are treated as equals and are
Embracing who we are fairly raises the strength of the country and
improves our capabilities in a competitive market place. We will
be recognized as a power outside of the country.
imagine what it would be like for all women to be isolated and excluded
from participation in society … You would have 50% of your people who
are considered "worthless" - not producing anything and not
contributing anything. Subjugating a sector of society, it could
be anybody, hurts the entire country. You will have an
unproductive segment of the population that needs to be taken care of,
and that zaps the energy of the country.
America to be competent in our global world, all people in America need
to have the opportunity to contribute something. Together, all citizens
contribute to its vibrancy creating a superpower with a good name, and
the country moves on. Blacks, whites, Chinese, Vietnamese, you name it,
Cape Verdean - all here together - everyone experiencing a sense of
opportunity and possibility.
Eleanor Roosevelt – The First Lady and an American heroine, had the
moral prerogative to enshrine human rights at the UN Charter. We
in the 21st century have an economic and political mandate to carrying
on with this vision - to fuse our society with the value of human
rights so that all members of our society become productive
Celebrating Black History Month is Right for our Conscience
Black History Month helps to awaken the conscience of America.
Ask yourself how much the plantation owners in the United States
benefited from free labor. Generations of enslaved people created
a huge surplus from their free labor. They were not paid salaries. They
were treated like animals.
plantation owners used their surplus to invest and create more wealth
for themselves not to improve the lives of their slaves. America,
and not very abstractly, benefited from the accumulation of surplus
from slave labor.
would argue that the accumulated wealth was spent in the Civil
War. It's very logical to say that because the United States
nearly went bankrupt. More than just black people, other groups
in our history have paid a price for the unfair distribution of
wealth. Generations of Native Americans were wiped out due to
wars and illness and the dispossession of their lands.
Today, some descendants of slaves
are now vibrant participants of our society today, excelling in all
realms of American life. Other descendants remain in poverty with
little change or hope in their lives.
Nonetheless, we must ask ourselves: How do we reconcile the conscience
of America? How do we reconcile this brutal treatment of our own social
groups by one or more other of our own groups?
Black History Month focuses on, and celebrates, the very telling of
what this country went through. It is a reminder that the fight is not
yet over. Discrimination is still present. Jobs and social
status, access to education – at any level you look, black people have
yet to be fully integrated into our society. How do we create a
country where these people - these groups - have access to opportunity
equal to everybody else in this country?
History Month focuses on one social group for which our nation's
history cannot be proud and stands for reclaiming a rightful balance of
thought and recognition for all who have been oppressed and taken
advantage of. We must continue to celebrate the Black People who
have been so important in the creation of the country we are today.
|Posted: February 22, 2013 Community Voices Initiative - Celebrating Black History - by G. Michael Tzerai
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