Another Black History Month is getting close to the end. I hate saying or thinking this, but it feels like a lot of the energy it used to have has diminished over the last 10 years or so; possibly much longer than that... and I don't like it.

MLK with crescent moon

Victoria Pickering via Compfight

We're in the last week of Black History Month for this year, and I feel like I've been cheated. Is it because I don't have TV anymore? Is it because I see little of the holiday or diversity issues on YouTube? Or maybe it just feels like there's been a lot of fizzle as I've gotten older? Most of my articles on diversity get little reaction these days, not only on this blog but when I share them on sites like LinkedIn.

Last year it felt like there was a black resurgence coming; not only does it feel like it's diminished, but it's been taken over by conservative radicals, who are still mad because Obama was once president, and he's still and always going to be more popular than the guy who came in after him (who's just been voted worst American president ever; classic!); try telling me I've got this one wrong.

In 2015 for Black History Month, I wrote an article specifically for LinkedIn titled How Does Dr. King's "Dream" Speech Translate In Health Care?. The article was well received... kind of.

It got 162 views and it was the most commented on article I've ever had there. A couple of the comments weren't quite negative, but instead of talking about the article itself the comments were made by people who had their own agenda against the Affordable Care Act and against President Obama (see what I mean?)... neither of which was even in the article. At this point it seems those few people must have had a change of heart because those comments are gone now... intriguing...

A few days after that article went live I had someone reach out to me and ask if they could feature the article on their website. It was a business website, and I took a look at it before deciding to allow it. I was given a password if I wanted to respond to any comments the article got... and it turned out to be useless.

The article did indeed get comments... almost all of them negative. Almost none of them talking about health care. Almost all of them talking about "another black person starting trouble that doesn't exist". I responded once to each person, stayed nice because it wasn't my space, and decided at that point I was done, lost the password and forgot the site and never went back.

Notice I said "almost" above. That's because there was one guy, one white gentleman, who not only liked the article but basically got into battles with the other people on my behalf. That was interesting and it felt pretty good on the surface, but in the long run even that depressed me.

Back in 2016 ago I was asked to be part of a local news story, written by Katrina Tulloch, about the lack of diversity in booking music acts for a new amphitheater that had opened the previous September (it's still online). While the list was impressive, it contained not only no people of color but no women. After we finished the official talk, I said to her "You know the kind of responses that are coming don't you?" She said "Yes, but I don't care. This is 2016 after all."

When I was informed the article was live I went to check it out. I thought my position was represented well, and I went out of my way to make sure I didn't call anyone "racist" or "bigoted" because I didn't believe that was the case. However, I did say these three things:

"The truth is people are scared to talk about diversity," he said. "Most people don't think about it until someone brings it up. But good leadership is inclusive. Good leadership always thinks about diversity."

"Whether it's picking music, picking Oscars or working in business, people are always going to go with people they identify with," Mitchell said. "One voice can help change things, but if there's no one voice, they won't think about it."

"If you mention it to them, they're going to make excuse after excuse," he said. "That's what the Oscar people did. People get defensive, even if you're just telling the truth. People are scared to be called racists or bigots."

After I read the news article when it went live, I read some of the early comments. They were exactly in line with what I was expecting. A lot of hateful stuff, a lot of complaints about people writing about the lack of diversity... blah blah blah... I decided to stop reading them before someone decided to come after me personally because I know myself fairly well; I don't play that game fairly... not as all.

For the 8 years of President Obama administration, I read a lot of articles regarding him, and a lot of it was race based. People tried to defend their words and actions saying it had nothing to do with race, but calling him a Muslim and starting the birther movement were definitely about race... possibly religion, but since he's Christian I'm sticking with race.

Why? Because if those people were white and Muslim this wouldn't be a discussion to begin with. The overwhelming number of the followers of Islam are brown skinned people, and thus it makes it easy for these folks who hate with animus and agreement to attack.

The politicians running for office in one particular party are using it to their great advantage even now, in 2024, preying on the fears of those who think their world is being taken over by "those people", which has led to beatings, threats, name calling and all sorts of other negative behavior. I mean... banning books, talking about not teaching Critical Race Theory in elementary schools (which has never happened) and in some places (I'm talking to you Florida & Texas) banning the teaching of it across the board) and other stupid stuff.

Then this mess started about something called "black privilege", where many white males are saying that blacks get all the breaks and get to do and say things they can't because they'd be called racists. Many have even started saying there should be a White History Month; sigh... Obviously they didn't see or read this post of mine; not that they'd have understood it anyway. Any in many ways, every month is White History Month; I didn't write this! 😀

Maybe some of them will understand this by Jane Elliott:

That puts the issue in an entirely different light doesn't it? Kind of tosses that black privilege belief out the window I'd say. For that matter it throws out the privilege issue against any minority group in the nation; we're all in the same place (this includes the LBGTQ+ community).

I've written about diversity via newsletters and on my blogs for just over 19 years (tomorrow, February 22nd, is the 19th anniversary of this blog). As I mentioned earlier, my diversity articles don't get much traffic, but I'll continue writing about it, and talking about it as I did during two live presentations I gave locally in February 2016; I don't just write about diversity, I talk about it.

What I have decided I'm not going to do anymore, unless I'm personally pulled into the fray, is engage stupidity as it applies to race; at least I'll give it my best shot. Frankly, like politics and religion, even telling and showing people facts about race doesn't change their minds, nor gets them to accept the truth.

I don't know how many times CNN has debunked the claims of Republican candidates (calling it as it is) that the majority of Syrian refugees are NOT Muslim, and the majority of immigrants (I'm not sure what the proper word is these days) coming into the country looking for work aren't criminals; why let facts get in the way of a good talking point that's getting voters?

I believe race relations is on its last breath; I've been saying that for a long time. Things aren't going to start changing until the majority is close to becoming the minority, and when that happens, things are going to get worse. Do I have to point out South Africa before Mandela became president? What about Rhodesia, whose record was so horrific that they ended up changing the name of the country to try to bury the shame?

I'm not worried about people I know in person (I'm not talking about friends of mine). I'm used to being the token presence and voice in most of my interactions, and after 64 years I play the game well, and I appreciate every friend I have to the highest degree.

But when, after all years of having this blog, there's still conversation every once in a while about whether or not my picture being on my bio page might be keeping me from getting more business, it shows me that it might not be a daily thing, but it's always in the subconscious of others, which is why it's always in the consciousness of my mind.

People will believe what they want to believe; I have no problems with that unless it impacts me, directly or indirectly. I lament that the hope I had that the early 70's was going to change things, as there were more diverse sitcoms on TV and many shows that addressed this issue on some of their episodes, was going to make this country a better place at this juncture. Was I naive? Possibly...

Did Dr. King actually see the promised land? I know I didn't, and I probably only have 10 years left for it to happen. If you believe in the dream, please let me know; I could use the inspiration and motivation, and I know I'm not alone.

© February
Mitch's Blog