February is gone--Black History Month is over. But as the mother in a swirl family, I'm hardwired to discuss black history with our kids whenever the opportunity arises. They need to hear stories not shared in the media and have cultural experiences that expand their perspectives. I studied tap dance for many years and was so excited to take the kids to a live stage performance starring Savion Glover. I'll admit I was a little bummed when our 14 year-old son rated the show a pitiful "2" on a scale of 1-10. "Mom," he lamented, "He tapped for TWO HOURS." Seizing the teachable moment, I inquired, "Why would he do that? Why is tap important?" Research on their modern devices led to the understanding that the creation of tap was a direct response to the fearful acts of slaveowners who attempted to remove all methods of communication from their captives. In other words, Tap equals Genius. The rating moved up to a "4". Mission accomplished.
Three weeks ago, our 12 year-old daughter and I went to Washington D.C. with a wonderful black family from her school. Visits to the African Art Museum, African American Civil Rights Museum and the MLK Memorial were priority. Perusing in a gift shop, Mangala picked up a bookmark that featured every U.S. President. Finger scrolling the rows of faces she said, "I can't believe all of these presidents were white." She stopped on President Obama's image and said with a smile, "...and then a Star." Her innocent observation brought tears to my eyes. She clearly saw the shining glory of a black man. She has stated she likes white boys "just a little" more than black boys because "they remind me of my Dad" but she definitely likes both. More importantly, her preferences are not tainted by anyone's negative portrayal of her mother's people, but rather by her healthy relationship with the man that helps her with her math homework every night and cooks her gluten-free pancakes on demand. I'm fine with that.
Black History Month 2016 was the best I've ever experienced. It forced me to delve more deeply into the race dynamics currently happening in our country. We have a coffee table book "Los Angeles". The historical images of happy, wealthy, white people swimming, surfing, making movies, enjoying fine dining and building prosperity decades before Black Americans were allowed to vote provide a stunning contrast. Photo after photo it is apparent how HAPPY they were. There was no struggle on their faces, no stress in their brows.
Anyone who doesn't believe we need Black History Month is uneducated and narrow-minded. They diminish the Black Experience in America by trying to blend it into American History. Fact is, if African slaves had not been brought to America, the world as we know it today would not exist. We would not be as evolved as a human race. The Africans and the Europeans in the United States is a complex fusion of cultures and we continue to force each other to reach our highest potential. The blending of the cultures is not the problem. The excessive greed, the cruelty, the sexual perversion caused by the mental illness of slave masters poisoned the blend. It didn't have to be that way but it was. It is our unique legacy. And despite all of our problems, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. The racists will die off. Tolerance will become the norm. Sooner than later. Our children already understand what is really important and as long as we give them the tools to be happy and tell them the truth, Mr. Lamar is correct--We gon' be alright.