There is an ever-present argument occurring within Black America regarding what should and by extension should not be portrayed in film for the public to see.
Unfortunately, far too many African-Americans prefer that historical moments and occurrences such as ‘chattel slavery’, Jim Crow, and lynching be de-emphasized, if not totally ignored as an unspeakable unspoken that has been banished from our memories to never be seen or heard from again.
I long ago realized that a wide-swath of African-Americans are not only ashamed of the horrific past that their ancestors were subjected to by a hodgepodge of global exploiters of varying races, religions, and ideologies, who not only stole them, but also did their absolute best to maintain a demonic reign of tyranny. I have never understood why our people, the descendants of the world’s greatest Holocaust, foolishly adorn their sturdy shoulders with any portion of shame regarding these events. This is unnecessary burden feeds an all-encompassing resistance to examine the basic tenets of this nation.
Those African-Americans who refuse to deal with the entirety of our storied struggle are making a grievous error that ultimately prevents them from accessing critical answers that could explain the present condition of Black America.
Those who have allowed irrational shame to block their view of our past, fail to realize that it is often out of the darkest moments that a people’s greatest strength and reason for solidarity is derived. Such is a lesson that persons of Jewish descent have made a foundational principle.
There is no denying that persons of Jewish descent are serious about highlighting the trials and tribulations that their people have experienced, particularly during their Holocaust experience.
A few years ago, I was selected by the Jack and Anita Hess Foundation to serve as a Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this ‘educational project’ was to train Professors teaching at Historically Black Colleges and Universities about the Jewish Holocaust so that they could return to their respective campuses and teach their students about the Jewish experience. To emphasize the importance of their story, the USHMM made concentration camp survivors available for visits to each of the campuses represented in the project at no cost at all.
Obviously, persons of Jewish descent have neither shame nor trepidations when it comes to discussing their Holocaust experience in either print or film. In many ways, the Jewish Holocaust serves as a rallying point, a veritable call to arms for them.
When one considers our ancestors hellish nightmare experience, there is no doubt that there are innumerable potential ‘rally points’ for our people. These alluded to historical moments could serve as a bonding agent during critical moments; unfortunately, we have allowed illogical feelings of shame and embarrassment to cause us to foolishly bury them. Until African-Americans realize that the shame they illogically carry regarding America’s sordid racial past is not their shame, we will not be able to examine our past; it is simply too painful for many. Unfortunately, until we understand the past, our collective suffering will never cease. It is critically important that we understand how we got in this situation and the only means of doing such is by examining our entire history.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.
Please support Independent Black Scholarship; it’s the only way that we are going to free our minds.
Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
Author, ‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian
Author, O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?