I stayed home today because the fact that I needed to consolidate a few things was starting to wear on me, and I have a busy weekend ahead, and possibly won’t find the time to handle my business.
When M. got home, we sat down to eat — she a spaghetti and bacon leftover dish and I the last of my miso chicken and gravy — and I asked her what I should write about today for Black History Month.
As she often does at my questions, she sighed HEAVILY and dropped her head in her hands. Generally, this is accompanied by a laugh filled with hopelessness, silently asking what she has done to the universe to deserve this.
I was hoping to post our episode of her fab ‘cast, Black Famous, which I hope will be called “But DMX doesn’t have any protest songs,” but it may not be ready tonight.
Most of tonight was devoted to digging more into plantation tours and how they’re treated by the guides giving them. The positive news is that more sites and more tours are realizing that they cannot whitewash what happened on those lands, and thus devote guided tours exclusively to learning about the atrocities of daily life that took place for enslaved people on the property. Monticello has a tour devoted to the Hemings family. Oak Alley Plantation rebuilt six structures that were used as slaves’ quarters and gives guided tours focusing on their stories. There are, thankfully, others. Now is not the time to ignore history, and while we celebrate achievements today and of the past 30, 40, 50 years, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to square with what came before. Slavery built this country, and we not only need to accept it, but we need to confront it and continue fighting its lingering effects.
It would be false to say I’m excited to hear these stories — who can be excited to hear narratives of others’ enslavement? — but I am happy that they have not been lost to time and apathy, and that they are being told.
UNRELATED: I get really, really excited when I’m listening to something and it sounds like something else I’ve heard. I don’t have a huge mental library of music, but I do cross a few genres and stumble upon samples, recognize chord similarities, or music I’ll call “kin,” every so often. The other night, this happened while we M. and J. watching “Unsolved Mysteries.” The opening theme sounded so familiar, but it took a few minutes before I could put my finger on why: it’s family to Kanye’s “Ni**as in Paris.” Look it up, it’s there.
Similarly, I’m listening to “The Payback” by James Brown and as soon as I heard the ladies in the background calling “yes we can!” I started searching the library. Kendrick sampled it in “King Kunta.” Should I have known that in 2015? You can argue that, since the internet exists and Kendrick talked about studying Brown in an interview, and many other sites noted the same. I don’t usually read up on the making/producing of songs because it’s more fun to stumble on a sample or influence. Keeps my brain young.
It’s not much for a Black History post; just some musings. Tomorrow’s will be better. In the meantime, a favorite skit from Bernie Mac (may he rest in eternal splendor, hopefully no longer using the word fa**ot, in whatever paradise he now resides).