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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black History Month Is Here: My View

 

As a white man in America who has not yet turned 30, one might ask why Black History Month is important to me. The month isn't what's important to me, necessarily. American History has always intrigued me but that's not even what does it for me. I'm interested in the untold stories of the voiceless, alternative viewpoints, the truth behind the lie.

I grew up in poverty. I was still blessed with surplus but welfare vouchers and Section 8 housing lines were no stranger to me as a youth. Because of our socioeconomic status, my spiritual upbringing, and my mother's teachings, I came to identify with the "underdog" so to speak. My mom instilled in me a strong belief in God and spirituality. She reminded me that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood" so I had a keen understanding that there was more going on in the world that merely what we see. My father was an alcoholic and did not keep steady work. By age 8, my mother left him and he never paid child support or contributed financially to my upbringing. In the 3rd grade at Evers Park Elementary in Denton, Texas, Langston Hughes' niece and my teacher, Mrs. Dorothy Watts, taught me and my classmates about Black history. It fascinated me. Two of my classmates, Erin Hallman and Darnell Evans, lived in the same neighborhood as I and had similar family situations. We learned about Kwanzaa, the writings of Richard Wright, Harlem Renaissance poets and artists, Sojourner Truth and many other lesser known African-American figures in addition to the perfunctory Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman lessons that I believe everyone is taught in grade school. I kept these two classmates as lifelong friends. I believe that Mrs. Watts united us in a way. I excelled in Literature and Social Studies throughout my schooling. Upon entering college at DCCCD's Richland campus, I enrolled in Public Speaking With Emphasis On African American Studies taught by Dr. Artis Thornton. As a self proclaimed "hip-hop head", I was becoming interested in the origins of rap as an art form and the spoken word. While taking Dr. Thornton's class, we had many intense class debates. We studied Tupac Shakur, Adolf Hitler, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the Willie Lynch letter. As a former rabble rouser for the NAACP, Dr. Thornton saw something in me during our class discussion and debates. He began to call me "Dr. Mullen". I made A's in his class and he encouraged me to continue my education and pursue my doctorate. While studying at Richland Community College in Dallas, I also took African American Lit. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I began to realize how important the teaching of Mrs. Watts were. Most all of my college classmates were obtaining this knowledge for the first time and I had the privilege of learning most of it in the 3rd grade. I transferred to the University of North Texas and to study as an undergraduate. By this time, I had become somewhat of a name around campus for my performances and recorded songs. I met my current girlfriend there. I was no stranger to interracial dating but the wealth of common interests that we shared kept things interesting. I have found that she appreciates the fact that I have a complete understanding of our country's history. I believe in the concept of lying by omission. The fact that most children in America were taught history from one specific point of view has skewed what the mass populous identifies as accepted history. African-American history, or Black history as it were, is one of the missing pieces of the puzzle that defines this country. This country has been lied to about its heritage...by omission.

2 comments:

  1. I really like this and learned quite a bit from it. There is so much to learn. I was born, raised and still live in a country that is almost 90% black and the history of it and where we're truly from and the truth behind it all is something I greatly appreciate. This celebration of Black History is and forever will be a favorite of mine.
    Thanks for the post it was very enlightening.

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