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Black History Month: A Culture of Comedy

Black History is the celebration of the effort of America to correct its past and heal its citizens. Why not contribute to the Good of that?

Merry Black History Month!

This season of the celebration of Black History is an opportunity for the world to explore things in our cultures and in our pasts that may cause hope or may have caused harm to those with whom we associate. Something that one individual may view as harmless and traditional in nature, by another, may be seen as oppressive and intimidatingly offensive.

The purpose of this article is not to bring negative attention to negative things in society to put out negative feelings. The purpose of this collection of words is to bring awareness. History is a telling of the story of things that have happened from the perspective of those who won the cultural war. History is only told by the victors. A poem hearkens back.

Black History means never forgetting the past, but avoid living in it so much that its mistakes become those of the present, propagating within the following generation.

Face Under Face Under Face...

In walked the Clown, full of the exuberance of the actions he would take.

He sat Upon his stool at his table before his mirror to show the canvas he would paint, his face.

He opened up his compartments; he opened up his places; and prepared to put on the makeup that would show people his new faces.

He put a little dab of makeup here; he put a dab of makeup there; he put a heap of rouge on his lips; Upon his head did he put big black curly hair!

When in the mirror he looked upon his finished work, the only feeling he allowed was what he felt of his character's cultural worth.

Handing out candy and bringing joy to kids, what Ol’ Black Pete, good Ol’ Black Pete did!

The face under the face Ol’ Black Pete showed, puffed with ancestral pride as the face shown on top smiled to crowds.

Dark faces in the crowds took the candy but “Ol’ Black Pete,” they would say “Doesn’t look like me! No! Not me, I say!”

Inside, however, in the thoughts that they would think, they’d say “Is this what people see when they look at me?”

“Is my life's lot always trampled feelings no matter the expense so tradition of others proud of their culture in life represents?”

Yes I will take the candy, but I will enjoy it with my face as dark as a flint!

There is another tradition not too many people may know about of Black Pete, Zwarte Piet, in its Dutch form...

Blackface

A tradition that is popular in the Netherlands is akin to a tradition of Celebration that is popular all over the world. The tradition is Christmas. During the Christmas season, we celebrate so many things that are based on Old cultural icons from the past. In the European past, there are things that are associated with Odin and Loki, Norse traditions. Some claim that these Traditions help to bring to life the reality of Old Saint Nicholas.

There is another tradition not too many people may know about of Black Pete, Zwarte Piet, in its Dutch form, popularized in the Netherlands with historical reference to the book published in 1850 by a primary school teacher, Jan Schenkman, as Sint Nikolaas en zijn Knecht translated to English as "Saint Nicholas and his Servant" ).[1]

Black History Month is an indication that society has changed to the point where history may also give voice to those who did not win because their cultures were stolen, obliterated, and absorbed.

Black Pete

Justifications abound why this next thing is so important but the effect that it has on a small minority of people is also of notable importance. In order for most characters to become a manifestation of the helper of the Dutch Santa Claus, performers have to prepare themselves by taking black makeup and smearing it all over their faces. Then, they take red, vibrant paint to make enormous lips over the bottom part of their faces surrounding their mouths--AKA, blackface.

Black Pete was Dutch Santa’s helper, believed to have come from several competing origins--a Moor, a slave, a demon, and always of a dark complexion--bringing cheer and joy to the good children and judgment to the bad children. Black Pete became what he is now as traditions changed to make him jolly, instead of a harbinger of fear to misbehaving children.

Behavioral psychology researcher and graduate, Afryka Unyque J, posted as a discussion starter in her social media,

Let's talk about it. Black face is still alive in well for Afro-Dutch citizens. Black Pete is part of the Dutch "Christmas Celebrations" and he serves as Sinterklass's helper. The Afro-Dutch have had enough! But citizens argue, “It’s harmless tradition.”

  • Let's discuss WHY black face characters are offensive from an educational perspective.
  • Is it harmless or harmful‽
  • Does the origin of the character matter in regards to offensiveness‽

Afryka opens an opportunity to speak about controversy that could lead to new cultural changes just like the introduction of Black Pete to the Dutch and Uncle Tom for Americans.

Black History Month is an indication that society has changed to the point where history may also give voice to those who did not win because their cultures were stolen, obliterated, and absorbed. They speak of things that happened that were not heroic--that do not paint the victors in the best light of the sun-scorched day. True history is ugly. It does not hide behind theories, honors, and prestigious points of pride. It is what it is.

Black Pete is in blue trimmed with white--blackface!

black-history-month-a-culture-of-comedy

Is Blackface wrong?

To answer that question is complex In the hearts and minds of many because of long-held tradition and personal feelings. The first is:

It is my Heritage and My Birthright.

Millions of people in this cultural tradition have generations of celebrating December 5th, when Black Pete appears in the streets with his other helpers to dispense with the joy and the candy. Black Pete is happy to serve and spread joy to the millions of children, doing so under the direction of Santa! Similar to long-held American beliefs.

Millions of people of the American South and throughout the nation of the United States have ancestors who bravely fought and died in the Civil War. Families split apart and the nation nearly shattered because our ancestors fought each other for the right to determine who ruled in these lands supreme, the individual states or the federal government.

“It is my great honor to put up a statue of my great-grandfathers for their heroic efforts to keep the nation pure and free. They fought for that which they believed,” some would say. “They were My family.”

Is Blackface wrong, though?

To answer that question is simple to many others because of long-held tradition and personal feelings, which can be related to trauma in many cases. The Second is:

It is my moral Code.

Answering the question is simple from my Judeo-Christian Heritage, Of course, it is wrong. As Afryka Unyque, suggested, “Let’s talk about it.”

Historically, people of African descent have been severely mistreated in the last 500 years. Whether or not those of African descent participated positively or negatively in the enslavement, abuse, slaughter, displacement, breeding, or any of it toward those of that continent, it is sad to say that instead of focusing on the problems that we have today. detractors will focus on the fact that there was on the floor, in the closet, on a shelf, in a dish, in a pot a little small rat.

Because there was a rat that means that those who were enslaved and wronged in the past did it to themselves; therefore, it absolves those who are currently enjoying the fruits of the labors of those enslaved Africans; which enjoyment blesses all users of Western technology, all the world.

See what I did there? I focused on something else when we were talking about how blackface could make people who come from cultures of slavery feel.

When it becomes our "right" to offend each other in public spaces and blacken their faces, that is when we know that liberty is being misapplied and the will of the people may need reevaluation.

Do to others that which you want them to do to you. If I had it, I would give you a million bucks because that's what I want done to me!I'll be a millionaire if you please.

No, it is not illegal, but it is wrong in that it inspires fear, hurt, oppression, and hatred of most many peopled. My Conservative Republican perspective does not care what feelings my views inspire in people becuse it is my right to have them and exercise such freedom legally. Nevertheless, I too am a Christian who cares about the feelings of those people who feel the pains of oppression and hate a thte presentation of certain political stimuli.

In a battle of conscious, the perspective I feed the most wins. Prayer to God trumps political theory in my esimations so I would remove the blackface, take down the flag, embrace my enemy and tell them I love them and am sorry they feel oppress, promising them my effort to chance the siituation within my stewardship.

If not, then I can parade around in a Nazi uniform and give our candy, or a dead WW2 victim in the German camps, or an American prisoner in an internment camp because I look too Japanese. Why don't I dress like the image of the dead body of Christianity and give everybody lollypops. All is good. Look, there is the KKK with brownies!

Where do we compromise?

There has to be a compromise between the two parties on the right and on the left. Personally, thinking about things from a neutral position I have sympathy for those who honor their Forebears. It is easy to do. If years of stories have come down to you about how wonderfully great your grandfather and grandmother were how difficult would it be to hear from someone who experienced them in a completely different way?

If I heard that my grandfather raped women and created children with his enslaved women it would disturb me. No disrespect, but would that not be the equivalent of molesting a farm animal or pet? Were not slaves property for labor and exchange--not human pleasure according to American slavery?

Full author disclosure, I learned that one of my ancestors owned my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and mother--allegedly fathering them both!.

Family history through my paternal line, which, thankfully, is well documented regarding one of my father’s lines of ancestry, reveals that the people owned of that lineage vein were also the children of the owner. It was easier for this man to make his own slaves. His poor spouse!


How did I come to this knowledge?

One of my cousins, related to me from the French Lineage, contacted me and informed me after I matched results in a DNA test connecting myself to her. I found the family who owned my family on my father's side. We connected! As wicked as slavery was, that family of people kept records of their slaves and I now have their names.


How does that make me feel?

Blessed to know that I have a connection to someone else on this planet and we share the same blood. I also feel ashamed to know that my blood exist because someone else had to suffer at the hands of a human being to be treated as property, a tool of lust in most cases. I choose to live in the present rather than languish in the past. The only thing that would occur is holding on to hurt that I did not experience, teaching my kids more pain and hurt to continue into the future. With this stance, I reserve my hurt and sorrow regarding what could have existed if slavery among Europeans of the peoples of the continent of Africa never devolved into the chattel-caste it did--unlike that of past slavery where slaves were mere indentured servants, still acknowledged with a measure of humans dignity.

Literally, news from all over the world is free to open the windows of revelation to eyes, ears, and minds and hearts that would never have known such things in life otherwise.

— Rodric Anthony

Merry Black History Month

Championing the effort to allow the hurt from the stolen, sold, and bred Africans who fathered and mothered what became slaves in the New World and other European civilizations to perpetuate the ease of colonial citizens to exist in the past, the celebration of Black History Month prevents the past from becoming Black Present Day and then Black Future Forever!

Black History means never forgetting the past, but avoid living in it so much that its mistakes become those of the present, propagating within the following generation. Acknowledge that the past happened, Recognize what was good and bad, Avoid repeating the same mistakes, and Actively work to create unity where division once lived is the legacy we leave our descendants is my hope, my prayer. Merry Black History Month!

Referencing Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Rodric Anthony

Comments

Mark Richardson from Utah on February 07, 2021:

I think intentions are something to consider. I know people that can be offensive with their comedy, but I don't get offended because I know the person and that they don't intend to be hurtful. Some comedy is intended to be hurtful. With comedy, you often go out on a limb and most things could offend somebody.

Rodric Anthony (author) from Surprise, Arizona on February 06, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for reading and commenting. There is a point I think I need to clear up. I do not think that blackface in and of itself is wrong. That would be the first step in calling out Halloween for allowing kids to dress up. I think that disregarding people's feelings about the offensiveness of blackface is wrong. I think blackface is inconsiderate, but not a sin. I have done whiteface and it was seen as funny, so it wasn't a problem.

Rodric Anthony (author) from Surprise, Arizona on February 06, 2021:

That is the spirit, Ruby! Why do I have to put you down to lift myself? I don't! Why should I expect you to pay the price of your ancestors when I reap the benefit of the labors of the past just as well as any other person living in the modern era? I shouldn't!

We can acknowledge each other's past and love the journey made to get to all the good we have now.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 06, 2021:

I found your article to be very interesting, Rodric. Of course, black face was wrong, but I honestly did not know that when I was young. i always thought slavery was wrong.

I am glad you wrote this article as i think you had an important message to share. I am glad you found a bit of your heritage even if it was with a slave owner. I think it is better to know than not know. Thanks for sharing this information, Rodric.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 06, 2021:

While reading your article, I felt a new knowledge concerning slavery. I can in no way condemn the acts of white slave owners, but I felt a pride in your writing, and that's wonderful. Hopefully we've learned that all lives matter. We may celebrate differently, we may enjoy some foods more than others, but we all love our family's and want only the best for them. I enjoyed reading your Black History Month.