A LITTLE OFF THE TOP

DAN JACKSON

In case you folks have missed it, my purpose in printed life has taken on new meaning this year. This is great, because previously, I didn’t have a purpose.

Everyone needs a purpose, right? And so, I am now an interpreter. That’s right, an interpreter for the free-thinking-impaired or, in other words, to interpret for you white people who just don’t get it.

Wait, wait, wait, don’t be insulted because I called you white or people or white people or even white people who just don’t get it. Hold up. You are white, and you are people. And sadly, you don’t get it.

Hey, check it out, I’m white, too! And there was a time when I didn’t get it, or at least didn’t make much of an effort to.

And so, thanks to a particularly orange abomination, it’s come to my attention that a large portion of you, specifically 74,222,958, need a bit of help in understanding stuff related to all other skin tones of the world.

Probably all other religions of the world, too, but I ain’t goin’ there — at least not yet.

Now hold on, I know you’re starting to get angry. Don’t do that yet, and hopefully not at all. Wait until after the quiz. Yes, a quiz. Don’t worry, it is only one question. And it’s easy. Multiple choice even, so you don’t have to go too far out of your comfort zone.

Here’s the question: February is Black History Month, how do you or your friends or your relatives react to that statement?

Here are your answers:

A. What statement? (The statement is: February is Black History Month.)

B. At some point, during this month, either myself or one of my friends or one of my neighbors or one of my relatives will make a joke about it.

C. At some point, during this month, either myself or one of my friends or one of my neighbors or one of my relatives will make a racist joke about it.

D. So?

E. OK or cool or that’s fine or oh yeah it is.

Do any of these answers seem familiar to you?

Perhaps at some points of your life, you have reacted in one or several of these different ways. Hopefully, however, it leads you to choosing E, OK with it. Just OK. Yeah, being OK or cool or fine with it, should be your final answer.

My first Black History Month was way back in seventh grade. It was Ms. Dunlap’s English class. That’s right, English!

She took the whole month of February and turned it into Black History Month. I’m not sure if she was supposed to do that or not. But Ms. Dunlap didn’t play. And so, I sat up straight and learned Black History that February.

At the time, I didn’t know what to think of it, didn’t understand it and didn’t understand the need for it.

I also didn’t understand girls and especially didn’t understand why the girl with a locker above mine looked like a full-grown woman. And didn’t understand why she ignored my pimple-laden, buck-toothed, skinny kid.

But I guess that’s all beside the point. The point is, much like I didn’t understand other things, I also didn’t understand the importance of honoring American citizens who are more often than not overlooked by American history classes.

Again, the point is, I didn’t understand. But I do now. And with only a small bit of effort, you can, too. Make the effort. Think, and become.

 

DAN JACKSON is a self-employed Paris businessman. His email address is danjackson@alittleoff.net.

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