As February is coming to a close, I want to take some time to reflect on diversity and the importance of Black History Month. Diversity, on the surface, provides the illusion of having people from different places in one place. Diversity is so much more and detailed than that. Not only is it a variety of people, but it encompasses beliefs, ideas, customs, and traditions. These categories hold no meaning without understanding and acceptance. As I have said all month, the two key components of diversity are understanding and acceptance. If you do not take anything else away from this series, this should be the takeaway.
Black History Month has recently been under scrutiny, and I have not quite been able to justify the opposing viewpoint. Without highlighting and honoring an integral point in history, it would forever be lost, and it is a shame this month-long celebration was ever in question. Black History holds treasures and monumental moments. People gave sacrifices and fought for a cause greater than themselves. The majority is not always right, and for the people who identified as the minority, they stood strong in dedication and convictions to make their voices heard.
A single month, let alone the shortest month, does not adequately provide enough time to properly honor the courageous efforts of the Civil Rights leaders. Diversity is expected to be recognized every day of the year, but limitations are placed on Black History. The celebration and honor should be carried throughout the year. The value of history is priceless, and placing restrictions on such history only fuels the belief that it is not worthy of being recognized all year long.
There is not much more I can say about these matters. So, I leave you with this: Black History does not cease to exist the other days of the year, and diversity needs to be addressed more adamantly.
The discussion is far from concluding for society’s sake, but as for this series, it is marking its end with Diversity: The Last Installment.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
Let America Be America Again
Poem By: Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
"A poet, novelist, fiction writer, and playwright, Langston Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties and was important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance."