In honor of Black History Month, I’ve decided to do a series this month on black writers who have influenced not only me but people of all races all over the world, both historically and currently.
The list is long and distinguished, but I will limit my list to those that impacted me the most.
Some may be familiar to you guys, some may not, but all come with my highest recommendations if you want to understand what it means to be black, not only in America, Africa and Europe, but, as I’ve learned living here in Japan, in Asia as well.
The motivation behind forming a Black History Month is essentially the same motivation that drove me to write my first book: Hi! My Name Is Loco and I am a Racist.
While there is an abundant amount of information disseminated internationally about the contributions that other races and cultures have made to humanity throughout history, much of what Africa and its diaspora have contributed has not . The effect this has on the world’s mentality and attitudes toward blacks is a dark and detrimental one, to say the least. And this ignorance nourishes racist attitudes worldwide.
So, an educator, historian, and author by the name of Carter G. Woodson came up with a solution.
“Americans have been miseducated,” Woodson concluded. “Negro contributions are overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them. Race prejudice, he concluded, “is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.”
This, of course, is very far from the truth.
It was time to properly educate them, for through this educational process not only would African-Americans stand to benefit — for a foothold in history is a human need evidenced by the fact that humans have always cherished and recorded it — but so would Americans of all races. History has been a dignifying constant and a source of pride since the time all humanity called Africa its homeland. (It’s no wonder that throughout history when one nation conquered another often the historical records and achievements of that nation were obliterated, for that was one surefire way to demoralize that people making them easier to control and enslave.) And he knew that if all Americans were aware of this history then they too would come to respect people of African descent, and find salvation in this recognition.
It was a brilliant plan.
(Japan, in particular, could use a little black history in their curriculum. At least I know my students in Yokohama are getting it, and getting it good from yours truly!)
So, on behalf of all conscientious people of the world, I want to say thank you for your sacrifices and efforts, Mr. Woodson.
Coming soon, I will begin this series with a writer who I feel perhaps the strongest kinship with:
His name…is Chester Himes.
Stay tuned… and please:
PS: In case you didn’t know, your boy Loco is looking a place in black history right in the face with the publishing of his critically acclaimed first book: Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist! (now available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble online!).
This book reflects my own knowledge and love of black history, which began with my parents making sure I learned it in lieu of “American” or “Eurocentric” history from the tender age of six.
This book is more than about life in Japan. It is a memoir of my active participation in several major movements and events in modern day history, both black and otherwise, both beautiful and horrid, and how these events have helped shape my current world view for the better! Don’t take my word for it. LET READERS TELL YOU: See what they’ve said here on Amazon
Get your copy here.
For more info, check out the book webpage here: www.himynameisloco.com