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Friday, December 16, 2005

Sorry Mr. Freeman, I don't agree.

Actor Morgan Freeman speaks with "60 Minutes" this Sunday and declares that the only way to get rid of racism is to stop talking about it. He also states that he believes African-American History Month is ridiculous and that he hopes black history will one day become fundamental to American History. He notes that there is no "white history month."

Well, there doesn't need to be a white history month in that the American history taught in classes is told from the perspective of those in power, who happen to be mainly white. This history is promulgated and inculcated for twelve months throughout the year not only via the classrooms but also the media. I do agree that one month is paltry in focusing on black history and yes, it would be wonderful if the history of all Americans was taught and appreciated. But that's not the case and may not be for a long time. Until then, young children coming up need to know that African-Americans (as well as Asians, Hispanics, and all the various ethnicities who now have their own appreciation months) have contributed to the creation and/or growth of this country.

As for racism being eliminated simply by never speaking on it, well that's a naive misconception. Avoidance allows the barrier of ignorance to continue to divide us; only talking about the subject, no matter how discomfiting, can chip away that barrier, allow peekholes into the "Otherness" that sets us apart. As it is, there is too much noncommunication going on now, allowing stereotypes and misperceptions to map our attitudes about those "not quite like us."

Mr. Freeman, not talking about race isn't going to keep people from seeing you as a black man. What it will do is deny an opportunity to educate those who may not share your cultural view and force them to realize (if only for a month) that there are worldviews that are just as legitimate as their own.

Per MSNBC News.

Update: Monica saw 60 Minutes and blogs that Mr. Freeman's statements made more sense within the context of his interview conducted by Mike Wallace. Monica sums it up below:

"But in context, he meant that we shouldn’t label people by race. His point was that only people getting labeled are nonwhite, mainly blacks. Who goes around saying or making a point of designating whether a person is white–or in the West nowadays, who goes around labeling Jews? (Jews got the crap labeled out of them a half dozen decades or so ago and only escaped it when they escaped wholesale discrimination–but memories are short). He asked the interviewer (Mike Wallace, I think), who said he was Jewish, if he wanted a Jewish History Month. Mike said no. Then Morgan asked why should he want a black history month then? Black history is American history.

"Excellent point. But black history month was started because the schools were ignoring it and only teaching European and the history of white people. Black history is a poor solution, but the only one to help black children learn something positive other than we lived in trees like monkeys until the whites saved us by making us slaves."

Thanks Monica for straightening out the confusion. The reported article only highlighted what they thought was the gist of the conversation, bypassing the true meaning of what Mr. Freeman was importing.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 12/16/2005 01:00:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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