Island Issues

Isn’t It Time To Ditch Black History Month And Establish American History Month?

Isn’t It Time To Ditch Black History Month And Establish American History Month?

Smiling American students presenting their country with flags

Why do we set aside February to celebrate black history when we don’t do the same for any other race or culture?

Shouldn’t America encourage the celebration of diversity? Aren’t Hispanics the fastest growing minority in America? What about the Native Americans? Where is their month? Or the Jews, who were also taken as slaves and lost millions in German death camps and continue to suffer anti-Semitic attacks where ever they go?

How about the Asians, whose sweat built the transcontinental railroad? Or the Irish, who immigrated here in the millions during the Irish potato famine? Both Asians and Irish were discriminated against and treated abysmally. The U.S. is home to the second largest population of Poles, Jews and Irish outside of Poland, Israel, and Ireland respectively. And don’t forget the Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, and even the French, among others.

Our schools should instill tolerance and respect for all races and nationalities by evenly celebrating different races and cultures that created America, not just one.

Didn’t Marin Luther King Jr. say that he looked forward to the day when blacks “would be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin”? Designating one entire month as Black History does the opposite. Blacks and others that played a role in America’s founding should be allowed to become an integral portion of our country’s education system and national consciousness, not singled out with a special month and celebrations dictated by national, state and local governments. If we believe in equality, then we should teach about all ethnicities and cultures equally.

I’m not alone in my opinion. Respected actor Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is “ridiculous.”

“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 70-year-old actor said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired recently. “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”

Freeman notes there is no “white history month,” and says the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.” The actor says he believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism.

“I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman says.

Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

I have a very close black friend named Bill. I never refer to him as “my black friend, Bill.” I call him “my friend, Bill.” I assume he refers to me as his friend, Dave.

Designating February as “Black History Month” when no other race is likewise singled out is damaging to black progress and as such singles out black people as inherently different or disadvantaged, not a flattering label.

Certainly there is still racism, but it is no longer so oppressive that it prevents blacks or any others from succeeding in any chosen field in this country. As black columnist and author Thomas Chatterton Williams said in a recent Los Angeles Times column: “Yes, bigotry is a tenacious foe, but we should open our eyes to the realization that a growing number of black people are seizing the freedom to define ourselves — not as victims, but as equals.”

To take that a step farther then we should do away with Black History Month and designate it American History Month where all American contributors are recognized equally.

Tell me where I’m going wrong here.


Why Liberals Aren’t Funny: British comedian John Cleese recently commented on political correctness saying that at one time on most university campuses political correctness meant don’t be cruel to people who can’t defend themselves, which was a good thing. But today the PC crowd has morphed into “a don’t say anything critical about anybody ever” philosophy, which eliminates humor, says Cleese, because all humor is critical.


Liberal Logic: If, as Bernie Sanders says, health care is a right and the government should provide it, then it makes sense that since the Second Amendment says owning guns is a right, the government should provide them for us too?


Educating The Voters: The online newspaper Fernandina Observer’s excellent correspondent Suanne Thamm penned an opinion piece last week reiterating what I detailed in a December 11 post last year, and that is why are out of county contributors pouring money into the Janet Adkins campaign for Nassau County School Superintendent. Ms. Thamm updated the contribution numbers that I had and they now show that of the highest donors in the Janet Adkins campaign, only 11 out of 76 come from Nassau County individuals and businesses, while 29 of Kathy Burns’ 38 high level contributors are listed with Nassau County addresses, including current Superintendent of Schools John Ruis. Tens of thousands of dollars from donors in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Clewiston, and even Pennsylvania and California are pouring into Ms. Adkins campaign treasury. Why? Ms. Adkins served this district well during her tenure as a representative in Tallahassee but the schools require a professional educator, not a politician. What interest do these out-of-area folks have in the election of a Nassau County School Superintendent? They don’t live here and most certainly don’t have children in our schools. Nassau County schools are ranked among the best in the state because they have been under the leadership of a professional educator, not a professional politician. Let’s keep it that way with Kathy Burns. Oh, this election will be decided in the Republican primary, so if you aren’t a registered Republican you don’t have a voice here. And on that note, this important position shouldn’t be an elected post, but one appointed by the local school board.


Random Thought: If possible, just before I die, I’m going to swallow a bag of popcorn kernels to make my cremation interesting.


Pass The Lignin Please: Raise your hand if you know what lignin is. OK, so I’m not the only one who wasn’t paying attention in high school biology class.

Recently our local mill, Rayonier, and Borregaard ASA, a Norwegian company, announced a local joint venture that is expected to create some 50-70 jobs and produce lignin, a non-toxic mill byproduct used by a variety of industries in various commercial and industrial products. The Nassau County Economic Development Commission was instrumental in encouraging the venture to select Nassau County, working with state agencies to help close the decision that very well could have gone to others locations including other U.S. states or a foreign country that were also being considered. The plan calls for the new venture, to be called LignoTech Florida LLC, to be owned 45 percent by Rayonier and 55 percent by Borregaard.

Ok, so what the heck is lignin? And can you buy it at Flash Foods?

Lignin is an agent in wood and is particularly important in the formation of cell walls, especially in wood and bark. It is extracted during the production of cellulose like that produced by the local Rayonier facility. LignoTech’s lignin is a byproduct of the paper mill’s processes and is used in concrete, textile dyes, agrochemicals, batteries and  ceramic products, animal feed and briquettes, so if Flash Foods sells any of that stuff, yep, you can buy it there.  Lignin-based products are also used in connection with oil drilling and in other products ranging from synthetic flavorings to textile dyes. It is also used as an emulsifying, binding, or a dispersal agent, appearing in everything from paints to treatments for roadways. The first commercial use of lignin was in 1927 by Marathon Corporation, a paper company based in Rothschild, Wisconsin which is now owned by Borregaard.  cruel

There’ll be test next week.


Work For Welfare? Thanks, But No Thanks! In an Oregon welfare reform program in the 1990s, applicants for welfare benefits were told they would have to work for their benefits. About a third walked out, saying if they had to work they’d find their own job. Their departure allowed social workers to focus on those who really needed help, especially those who had lost job skills, were pregnant, struggled with substance abuse, etc. Requiring able-bodied people to work for welfare benefits isn’t punishment; it’s a way to reinforce that you don’t get something for nothing. — Georgia Public Policy Foundation


545 Reasons Why Things Are Screwed Up: There are 100 senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices. These 545 people out of a U.S. population of  320 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for every single  problem that plagues this country. They say they want to fix the unfair tax issues. But they are the ones who created the unfair issues. They say they want to fix foreign policy. But they are the ones who screwed it up. They say they want to improve health care and taxes. But guess who meddled and messed them up?  Republicans and Democrats are campaigning on platforms to fix the Veterans Administration, Social Security, welfare, etc. Would you hire a contractor that wrecked your house to come back and make repairs? I’m not a Donald Trump fan, but when he says “This country is run “horribly” and that it is run by incompetent people, he is right. Name one  single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to these 545 people.


Caution: Don’t Ever Let The Feds Do You A Favor: A couple of weeks ago the Wall Street Journal reprinted an item by Historian Forrest McDonald (McDonald died Jan. 19 at age 89) from a 1999 Commentary Magazine symposium on the results of the 1998 midterm elections in which he said: “……. the government pokes its nose into everything, including standards of morality. To cite but one kind of instance, the Catholic church’s charities and the Salvation Army, which have been traditional carriers of religion and morality as well as of succor, now refrain from espousing religion and morality, lest they lose their government funding. It is federal money that corrupts: take their money and they own you. Most people probably know this but are willing to take the money anyway. I once heard Frank Sinatra say on a talk show that it was easy enough to get along with the Mafia. ‘Just don’t ever let them do you a favor.’ The same advice applies to the federal government. Nevertheless, despite the general moral decline, I would insist that there is no widespread neo-Puritan impulse among conservatives. It is leftists, not conservatives, who are Puritans, who want to make people over in accordance with their views—in myriad ways, ranging from stamping out smoking to imposing correct thought; and that has been true since Rousseau. They constitute the most serious threat to our cherished freedoms.”


Chris - 15. Feb, 2016 -

I personally would be willing to have everyone provided with a gun if we would also provide everyone with healthcare. If that was a proposed position by one of our candidates sign me up. Of course no one will need the guns as we already have one for each man, woman and child in this country and of course all the death and mayhem they cause inevitably costs more for the healthcare system, still I think I would be getting the better part of the compromise. Happy to support the idea.

Al Goldsmith - 13. Feb, 2016 -

What is happening in the school superintendent election makes a strong case for having this position appointed by the school board. What appears to be political gaming is disenfranchising over 26,000 voters who are not registered Republicans. You and the Fernandina Observer are to be commended for calling attention to what is going on. Hopefully most of those who can vote will elect the qualified educator, Dr. Kathy Burns.

John Martin - 13. Feb, 2016 -

Dave, your “Educating the Voters” section is spot on. In addition to the points you and Suanne Thamm make, if you follow the money a little further you will see that the Libertarian candidate’s only major expenditure is to Raymond Johnson, a known Adkins operative. He was seen at a local shopping center approaching people to sign petition cards for Cheryl James while wearing a Janet Adkins campaign shirt. Mr. Johnson nor any of his organizations are listed in Mrs. Adkins campaign expenditure reports. Strange, don’t you think. In the spirit of full disclosure, which is lacking in certain campaigns, my wife is School Board Chair Donna Martin. We are supporting Dr. Kathy Burns. In closing, I hope the citizens of Nassau County understand that the Libertarian candidate’s filing, which closes the Primary Election, is not a Republican Party scheme. I have my own opinion, but, only Cheryl James can be held accountable for this maneuver to close the Primary and disenfranchise a significant percentage of the electorate. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out these political shenanigans. Don’t let her silence your voice in this election. Become a registered Republican and vote for Dr. Kathy Burns to be our next Superintendent of Schools.

Steve Crounse - 13. Feb, 2016 -

Dave, this is becoming a habit, second time we have agreed on something. The first, leave our Baseball field alone, oh, ya then there Pat G’s Voices. We are like “two peas in a pod” about who should be our next Nassau County Superintendent of Schools. Dr Kathy Burns is the only Qualified Candidate Running for that office because this is an Elected Position? Which I’ve never run into before in my 75 years. That should be changed, ASAP. The process should be the as we choose the City Manager and leave politics at the School House Door.
The other Issue of course is the Gaming of the Political Process, As you’ve stated in your Post, this is a closed Primary. Why?, Because some one payed for a Libertarian Candidate to run for Superintendent of Schools. Which has the effect of closing the Republican Primary to all other County Registered Voter(43%) This Libertarian candidate, in my humble opinion, does not have the Qualifications to be a substitute teacher in our School System. The other concerning issue, is monies from out of County ($1,000.00 donations) pouring into Ms. Adkins Campaign. From, Lobbyist, and Charter School Companies , Shmoop University. Just a question, What is that? and Donations from Dayspring Village and Dayspring Health, which I understand, her husband has a vested interest in. Don’t they receive grant monies, and accept donations for projects? Don’t they function under some 501 something charter? Is it even legal for them to Donate to a Partisan Election, I don’t know, just asking. We can participate in electing our next Nassau County Superintendent of Schools only one way. By being a registered Republican. I know what I’m doing. This is way to important for our Childerns Education to play Politics. To my mind, this is a By-Partisan Issue. Thanks Dave

Dave Lott - 12. Feb, 2016 -

David, actually I think your friend Bill refers to you as “this is my honkie friend Dave”. Just kidding.
You are spot on about taking the color out of history. I can see the importance in prior decades because of the suffering through segregation. During my early education years in both the Deep South and well as in upstate NY, the only black person I can recall getting any kind of mention was George Washington Carver. You see these video snippets where young people are asked about famous Americans and they have no clue as to who they are nor the positive contributions they made to our society. But they can quickly tell you that Lady Gaga nailed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl and Beyonce outperformed Coldplay and Bruno Mars.

Tom Yankus - 12. Feb, 2016 -

In 1996, under Zell Miller’s leadership, Georgia went statewide for appointed school supt’s. Governor Miller is from a family of educators (parents/himself) and knew the value of attracting candidates not only locally but also regionally and nationwide. I can only speak for the two systems I worked in (Forsyth and Cherokee) and the results were positive. Very positive. Both of these systems today, some 20 years later, are among the most respected in Georgia. Test scores, salaries, employee qualifications etc. reflect this. I finished my 37 year career in the above mentioned counties and spent the next 8 years as an adjunct professor for The University of North Georgia in charge of supervising college seniors going through internship in the same Forsyth and Cherokee systems. David, you are spot on with your question as to why does Nassau County still make this elected position a political issue? I ask the same question? Politics and education? Usually not the most beneficial mix for your children.