As an equal opportunity blogger, who believes that all races and ethnicities should be appreciated for their contributions to the world, but not taken too seriously, I will admit to having some fun with Black History Month. Make no mistake, Black History Month is important. For too long, history has been written by ethnocentric white males of European descent. So Black History Month is a time to raise consciousness about Blacks who have made a difference in our country and in our world.
At the same time, I would be (deservedly) considered racist if I did not subject Black history to the same tongue-in-cheek approach to which I subject every other group. So, this month, my tribute to Black History Month, has been a series of daily Facebook updates which I now share with you.
1910’s – 1920’s – George Washington Carver develops hundreds of uses for peanuts, in order to provide a new crop to support agriculture in America. The peanut becomes a staple of the American diet, until a bunch of upper middle class white kids develop mysterious “peanut allergies” that require them to be at least 734 miles from food processed on machinery that once touched a peanut.
1975 – 1985 – The Jeffersons become the most popular Black television family, in a show that runs for 253 episodes. In later years, DNA testing suggests that George Jefferson is not only the namesake, but the direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson.
1967 – Comedian Flip Wilson performs a skit in which it is revealed that the voyage of Christopher Columbus is funded by Queen Isabella in order to discover Ray Charles.
2007 – Barack Obama announces race for the presidency, immediately dispelling the popular belief that all people of Kenyan descent run barefoot.
1967 – Jimi Hendrix Experience is the opening act at The Monkees concerts [You can’t make this stuff up]. He turns to drugs to try to forget.
2008 – Ignoring popular wisdom that middle Americans would never elect a Hawaiian-born president, Democrats nominate Barack Obama as their presidential candidate.
1984 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first Black Miss America. Pageant officials wake up the following morning with a hangover and force her to resign her title when they find out that up and coming models apparently pose for nude pictures along the way. She avenges them by becoming one of the only past Miss Americas to actually have a life afterwards.
2009 – In the days following Barack Obama’s inauguration as president, rapper Young Jeezy records the song My President is Black, marking the first time in history that the words black, president, Lambo and rims are used in one sentence.
2009 – Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, wears an as yet unidentified object on her head as she performs at the presidential inauguration.
1973 – O.J. Simpson becomes the first N.F.L. player to run for over 2,000 yards in a season, a mark that will stand until his run from Los Angeles’ police in 1994.
1997 – New York City’s Interboro Parkway is renamed Jackie Robinson Parkway. The Parkway honoring a Black American hero is less than 5 miles, and runs through cemeteries and city areas. In comparison, the Robert Moses Causeway, named after a “controversial” figure, runs for over 8 miles through suburbia to the beaches of Long Island. You work the math.
1964 – Boxer Cassius Clay changes his name to Mohammed Ali. The draft board finds him a few years later and he is barred from boxing when he refuses to be inducted.
1996 – Rapper Tupac Shakur is shot and killed in a music industry war. Oddly, police do not interview the Backstreet Boys, whose popularity “coincidentally” rises around this time
1997 – Rapper The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls is shot and killed in a music industry war. Surprisingly, nobody suspects the members of ‘N Sync, whose popularity “coincidentally” rises around the same time.
1984 – Singer Marvin Gaye is shot and killed. By his father. Jeez.
2000 – Rapper 50 Cent is shot. 9 times. He lives to rap again. And you wonder why people might be afraid of him?
2002 – Jam Master Jay of the Run-D.M.C. rap group, is shot and killed in a music industry war. Despite the fact that the group Coldplay is “coincidentally” on the rise at the same time, members of the group are not interviewed by police.
1999 – Amadou Diallo, an unarmed guy is shot 41 times by four plainclothes policemen in New York. They are found not guilty.
2006 – Sean Bell, an unarmed guy coming from his bachelor party, is shot 50 times by five New York policeman. They are found not guilty.
1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) is founded. Over these hundred years, Americans have referred to Blacks as Negroes, Colored People, People of Color, African-Americans and Blacks. N.A.A.C.P. figured it wasn’t worth changing the letterhead all those often.
1975 – High school student Theodore Livingston is practicing to do a DJ gig, when his mother gets home and tells him to shut the music off. Panicking, Theodore tries to stop the record by hand instead of turning off the phonograph, and “scratching” is invented. He will later become Grand Wizzard Theodore.