Sunday, 13 February 2011

Discussions in Black History Month: Those Who Don't Want To Know

While living in the United States I came to think that much of the energies of the national psyche are directed towards pretending the existence of African Americans and related structural inequalities does not signify evidence of some of the greatest crimes in their country's history.

It is, in my opinion, precisely this failure to wrestle the monster of history that leads to things like the Mississippi Sons of Confederate Veterans' efforts to have the state issue specialty license plates honoring an early leader of the Klu Klux Klan - Mississippi is the state with the highest proportion of African American residents.

I'm having a hard time understanding why anyone would want to honour a man who ran a "Negro Mart", and conspired to enslave millions of human beings. Those are his accomplisments. If, as his defenders argue, his last minute expression of regret is supposed to wipe the slate clean, what is there left to celebrate?

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