As you can probably tell from our first activity, this course will not stray from tackling the series issues that face our society. If this summer taught us anything, it’s that we have a quite a way to go in resolving our political differences in a productive manner. Many significant events happened over the summer; the goal for this course is to examine how we have reached this point in history – and, more importantly, to contemplate exactly what “this point in history” actually means.
For those that went all Rumpelstiltskin this summer, here are a few highlights:
Texas Senator Wendy Davis put the Lone Star State through the national news cycle with her filibuster of a bill placing restrictions on a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. While Sen. Davis stirred-up quite a ruckus, the bill eventual passed in yet another special session.
But the biggest story of the summer was the debacle that became the “trial” of George Zimmerman and an overwhelming lack of justice in the senseless death of Trayvon Martin. Regardless of your feelings on this particular case (one can certainly disagree with the extremely biased author of the previous sentence); the response to the Zimmerman verdict clearly put on display the ugly truth that America is far from a “post-racial” society. One only needed to be a member of the world of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets to be inundated with racially abhorrent comments.
As an extension of our in-class activity on the first day of school. I encourage you to read this article in which journalist Jesse Washington is forced to explain the “Black Male Code” to his 12 year-old son. An excerpt:
Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.
Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a badge or a gun, do not flee, fight, or put your hands anywhere other than up.
Please don’t assume, son, that all white people view you as a threat. America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you. But as a black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are.
I was far from alone in laying out these instructions. Across the country this week, parents were talking to their children, especially their black sons, about the Code. It’s a talk the black community has passed down for generations, an evolving oral tradition from the days when an errant remark could easily cost black people their job, their freedom, or sometimes their life.
The mere fact that these conversations exist is proof that America has work to do. Hopefully this course can be part of that work.
Welcome to US History.
***Which of the above issues do you find to be the most important? Post a comment and share your views. Let’s have a conversation.***