Black history month begins today in the USA.
Today’s google doodle features Sojourner Truth. It’s well worth learning about this great woman, this great black person, this great American. It’s women’s history. It’s black history. It’s American history. It’s my history too.
Black history month is important for us white folks, maybe now more than ever. We never heard about Sojourner Truth when we were growing up in school. They didn’t tell us about Ida B. Wells or the Massachussett’s 54th. We never heard about the first black fighter pilots to fly for America in WWII — who sacrificed lives but never lost an aircraft they were protecting. Besides Neil deGrasse Tyson and maybe George Washington Carver, can you name one black American scientist? There were lots. There are lots. Some of them are fighting tooth and nail to save the world — us white folks included — from the scourge of climate change.
This is our history, scarred with our sins. We forced a whole people to come to this land in chains, to work themselves literally to death, and then congratulated ourselves for building such an amazing land from the ground up, without thanking creation itself for the bounty of an unspoiled land, or shedding a tear for the blood and sweat of the slaves who built it or the people who preserved it so beautifully even before we arrived.
In return, those African people, those black people, have enriched our culture and our lives. Robbed of their dignity and their identity, in becoming African Americans they have blessed us. Slandered as too stupid even to be able to learn to read, let alone worthy of freedom itself, their genius has turned art and music and science and poetry upside down, forging new paths never before imagined but much imitated since. Their conscience has pushed the envelope of our society, never backing down, but testing the resolve of our morality. They have stepped up to the plate, swung the bat, competed in every endeavor humans explore, of the mind and body and spirit, and time after time they have hit a grand slam home run.
Every one of those home runs is for team America.
Most white folks don’t really understand how difficult it has been for black people and still is. The other thing I think we don’t get, is how magnificently black America has risen to this challenge. The accumulated accomplishments of black American artists, scientists, politicians, philosophers, poets, is so vast and at such a level that it is impressive, even without considering the conditions under which these great Americans had to live and work.
These days, it’s not so easy to be proud of America. Remembering our history rears the ugly head of shame. But remembering Sojourner Truth inspires pride. She was American. Her soul, her mind, forged here, among the people (including us white folks) of America. What is the best you can be?
It’s time to thank our lucky stars that the black people in this country have made America something to be proud of.