Last night I went to the Ubuntu show on campus, organized by the African Student Union. I went to learn about different African cultures. It was a celebration of African identity and unity of Africans living in the United States. I had experienced a few instances of African culture before, but I had never seen it portrayed through their own eyes of what they wanted to share about their home countries. It reminded me of when we discussed in class of how African Americans want to return home to Africa and embrace the culture of their nations. In fact, the host even brought up that Ghana has called for 2019 to be a year of return, so Africans, even those not specifically from Ghana can return home.
I thought that it was very interesting to see both Africans and African Americans come together and just celebrate life. However, it was also an educational experience for many of the caucasians in the audience. There were skits that discussed African writers and activists, as well as poems that brought to light the effect of colonialism on African lives. There was even a poem about love, which demonstrated that we all face the same human struggles and that we are not all that different deep down. I thought that each segment was special in its own way and was educational for me. It was special to see Black celebrated in a time when all we hear about is how Black is bad.
The Civil Rights Movement had changed the futures of African Americans for the rest the the United State’s history. However, one such restriction upon the freedom of the African American people was the Plessy v. Ferguson legislation, which made it legally acceptable to discriminate and separate African Americans from Whites. I decided to investigate the context and the consequences of Plessy v. Ferguson to further understand why it was upheld and how it can be seen/felt today.
Homer Plessy, as he was called, was a mixed man living in New Orleans. Mr. Plessy, despite being mixed, was designated as a black man and had to sit in the “colored car” as per the Separate Car Act of 1890. Nevertheless, he had attempted to board a white’s only car only to be detained shortly after refusing to leave the “White’s only” car. Of course, this was fought all the way up to the Supreme court with the help of many people like Albion W. Tourgée and Louis A. Martinet. Albion W. Tourgée was the lead attorney for Plessy and had experience in both defending the civil rights of the African American people in court and as a Union soldier. Louis A. Martinet was an editor for a New Orleans newspaper and was capable of scrapping enough donations and general support to support the legal battle to the Supreme Court. Despite the risky decision to bring it to the Supreme Court, racial segregation was upheld and protected through the court as “separate but equal”.
As consequence of this decision, races could be segregated and treated differently, despite claims by the court that African Americans can be treated as equals. Although, this could be seen as expected as there was support for separating the races by society, from beatings, kidnappings, to lynchings. Even today, there are politicians that publicly wish to enforce white supremacy, despite their attempts to back peddle. The article mentions Steve King but who knows how many other politicians silently agree with enforcing racial supremacy upon the American citizens? Furthermore, how many people claim the inequality of races to this day can be justified by the same though the same words, “separate but equal”? he consequences of Plessy v. Ferguson lead to long-term justification of subjugating and separating of African Americans, even after it was defeated by those who fought in the Civil Rights Movement.
I found it very interesting that WWII was so significant in African American history because I didn’t know that it significantly impacted the rights of African Americans and how the Democratic Party became so significant to minorities and women as well. I thought that it was interesting to understand the political realignment that was changed over time. This improved the expansion of black political strategies, even though there was still improvement there was resistance from many white Americans. Although from what we learned it is clear that the black media also expanded at this time, which helped shape, form, and persuade the community. This in itself really helped start the Civil Rights movement because it allowed for African Americans to have a voice in American society, and it was being heard.
Within the last week, Canadian singer Daniel Caesar, during a drunken rant, made a comment on Instagram Live asking his Black fans, “Why are we being so mean to white people right now? “ His question arose after YesJulz, a White media personality, made racist and anti-Black comments. Mr. Caesar continued to state that Black people are not “on top” because “we can’t haven’t gotten with the strategy of the winning team”.
Its is disappointing to learn that an artist with so many Black fans and has such a huge media presence can make such an outlandish comments. Even in a drunken state, his words have a profound effect. But there are a few facts that Mr. Caesar fails to realize: 1) The criticism that YesJulz is facing is not to be mean, but to make her realize that her comments and actions offend a large number of people within society and could lead to negative societal effects. 2) Associating the “winning team” with race is absurd. It is true that most executives and producers within the entertainment industry are White however, to connect their race with success and ignore the success and struggles of Black and other minorities within the industry is wrong
Other celebrities (Waka Flocka, Tammy Rivera), have reacted to Daniel Caesars comments stating that because he is Canadian he may not understand the struggles Black people face in America. But discrimination is something that is faced all over the world, not just in America. It is how people respond to discrimination that makes a difference. Hopefully, this is a learning experience for Mr. Caesar, that its important to understand the cultural and political climate in another country before making such strong comments. Most importantly, Daniel Caesar should understand that in the fast-paced, get-famous-quick world that we live in, the same support that was used to build his musical profession can easily be turned into opposition that ruins his career.
Recently a Virginia Elementary School was criticized for allowing students to play a game where students pretended to be runaway slaves while navigating an obstacle course meant to represent the Underground Railroad. To add to the disappointing news, an African American student was designated as the “slave” for the game.
There are many obvious wrongs within this scenario, but what really stands out the most is the miseducation of slavery that the school was teaching the students. Instead of learning about the serious subject matter of the historical enslavement of Africans within the classroom, the school officials made mockery of the historical subject with a game.
Although the school has sent a letter following the incident apologizing for the event that transpired, more needs to be done in regards to the teaching of such subject matter. A suggestion for the educators that allowed for the “Runaway Slave Game” to occur would be to undergo a cultural competency course that would encourage the appropriate manner of teaching young children about slavery.
Before reading this piece I was completely unaware of restrictive covenants. I had always believed that it was a personal preference of the person selling the home. But now I am aware of the fact that the discriminatory action of refusing to sell someone of a different race a home is written into the neighborhood laws. I was completely shocked while reading this piece because it is just another example showing how the dominant race uses laws and restrictions to hinder the success or comfortably of the minority race. To add to that, although this reading is from 2005, I find it ridiculous that these restrictive covenants haven’t been thrown away. The fact that there are people still abiding by these racist restrictions shows that we haven’t made much progress in this country. There was a time in which it seemed as if there was an amazing amount of progress being made towards equality. But now it seems like the dominant group thinks minority groups are “content” with where they are, which couldn’t be more wrong. This requires the minority groups to fight even harder, and make sure everyone knows that they are not content. More change is necessary.
I recently saw someone post this website depicting the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in two minutes. I already knew and learned about the trade in class before I saw this video, but it was still very startling. I noticed that it depicted ships primarily going from Western Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil instead of North America. I also realized that around 1807 and 1808 the ships drastically stopped leaving Africa, however, there were still ships bringing slaves across the Atlantic. I knew all of this before, but it was interesting to see it demonstrated in a new way.
This depictions gives you an understand of the scale of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade across time. In addition, the depiction allows you to click on the dots that represent each ship and learn about its origin point, destination, and history in the trade. I understand it does not represent every slave or slave ship, but it still demonstrates the intensity of the trade and the impact it had on so many lives. The website also provides more information other countries involvement in the trade and I think it is important more people are exposed to this information and this diagram makes it easier for people to understand. It will spark an interest and hopefully inspire people to learn more about their history and the history of whole African diaspora, especially if it is being spread across social media.