SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: We Will Not `Get over It'

By Malveaux, Julianne | Black Issues in Higher Education, May 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: We Will Not `Get over It'


Malveaux, Julianne, Black Issues in Higher Education


SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: We Will Not `Get Over It'.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a panel with a rabid white woman who repeatedly insisted that Black people "get over" history. Like a dog with a bone, she had a point she would not let go. "Slavery happened. What does it have to do with today," she said, her voice rising.

"You people need to just get over it."

Apart from the innuendo in "you people," the notion that we "get over it" is abhorrent. The ravings of one random white woman might not merit comment, except her ravings have been rephrased, in terms both mild and strong, in the academy, in society and in public policy.

For example, in early May, Alabama state Senator Charles Davidson sat down and wrote a speech -- and unfortunately his pen was in working order. He was planning to defend the flying of the Confederate flag over Alabama's capitol building, but in the process he attempted to dabble in history. Davidson wrote, "People who are bitter and hateful about slavery are obviously bitter and hateful against God and His Word, because they reject what God says and embrace what mere humans say concerning slavery."

He continued by adding, "The incidence of abuse, rape, broken homes and murder are 100 times greater, today, in the housing projects than they ever were on the slave plantations in the old South." Then he capped it off by noting, "The truth is that nowhere on the face of the earth, in all of time, were [people] better treated or better loved than they were in the Old South by white, Black, Hispanic and Indian slave owners."

Foot in Mouth

Davidson was running for Congress, but after he put his foot in his mouth (he never actually delivered the speech, but he distributed copies of it), he bowed to the pressure of outraged Alabamians and withdrew from that race protesting that he didn't mean to offend anyone and that he wasn't a racist.

And the sky isn't blue, birds don't fly and the Pope is a Methodist!

If he isn't a racist, he is certainly historically myopic and intellectually challenged. Like the woman on the panel, he was telling Black people to "get over" history by hiding behind the Bible to make his point.

The others who would tell us to "get over" history are those who challenge the existence and content of Afrocentric education, African American Studies Departments and other manifestations of the African-American presence on campuses. The arguments against affirmative action, multicultural curricula and ethnic studies are that race shouldn't matter anymore.

Even the Supreme Court has dabbled in the notion that race does not and should not matter -- indicating in a recent case that race statistics do not support claims of selective prosecution in narcotics cases. …

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SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: We Will Not `Get over It'
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