On this day when Nelson Mandela was laid to rest, exactly one month before what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 85th birthday, and on the 75th anniversary of the lavish and segregated Atlanta premiere of ‘Gone With The Wind,’ the world seems to be spinning off its moral axis.
There is no abatement in the shameless disparities between indulgent existences and condemned lives, between private extravagances enjoyed more than ever on the backs of a burgeoning heap of the unemployed, uneducated, and uninsured, and between those who wish to save the earth and those who just drain it.
But in a land called Texas, grown men and women are engaged in a continuing enterprise to whitewash human history with hideous euphemisms and convoluted word games that betray the comfort level that Texas ravishes upon itself. Widely published reports persist that state education bureaucrats are still attempting to replace the term “slaves” in the school books with the phrase, “indentured servants.”
The city of Dallas, which made a series of gestures attempting to extrapolate its stigma of hate during the recent 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, is home to the Texas Board of Education. This august body has for decades persisted with its inoculation of curriculum with assertions and manipulations that favor more conservative-friendly versions of history and science.
While little kids are trafficked in this country and through most continents, while women are still in captivity across Africa and the Middle East, and while sexual slavery conspiracies are discovered from Cleveland to Copenhagen, official Texas remains as indifferent to the present as it is delusional about the past. Guns, beer, round-ups, cowboy hats, and pick-up trucks comprise the social salsa of an American province that seriously pretends that 400 years of African bondage were a charming adventure and that the Middle Passage was some kind of Yellow Brick Road.
One Texas education board member, a man responsible for the growth and development of adolescent minds in the 21st century, has made the following statement: “Sure, these plantation interns had it harder than today’s modern college students. They didn’t have coffee breaks, they couldn’t goof around on Facebook, they were frequently beaten within an inch of sweet merciful death — but they made lifelong connections and built some strong resumes in the process. Not to mention the acclaimed music they were encouraged to write!”
Is there no other reality for Texas other than football? And do all those great running backs they invoke at their barbecues—you know the ones who are black—were their great-grandparents just mindlessly singing or were they being systemically sodomized?
Ben Kamin's books about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement are available via the above web site or on Amazon.com.