Quick... Rabbi Marvin Hier? What, his name is not on the Who's Who of the great black leaders of history. Well, of course not. How about Simon Wiesenthal, have you heard of him? Of course you have... I think? Rabbi Marvin Hier is the Dean and Founder of the Los Angeles based, Simon Wiesenthal Center.
But Carey, what does that have to do with Black History Month?
Well, I can show you better than I can tell you. Come on, I'm gonna take you by a friend's house. He's actually a turtle but we are going to listen in on a conversation between him and The Wizard. There they are over there, over there by the base of that tree.
*whispering* Hush up, be quiet, listen
Wizard: "Twizzle Twazzle Twizzle Trone, time for this one, to come home"
Little Wannabe Turtle: *yelling* "Help me Mr. Wizard... Mr. Wizard, MISTER WIZARD!"
Wizard: "How many times I tell you? Be just what you is and what you is not. Those that do this, are the happiest lot"
The turtle had a propensity to venture off to journeys that could be called a "Fool's errands". He once found himself in defenseless position in the face of a fire breathing dragon. All his fantasies seemed REAL sweet, and in the books, they looked REAL good. But he soon found out there's nothing like the real thang.
Wizard: "Come on good buddy, we're taking a trip"
Little Tudor Turtle: "Where are we going?"
Wizard: "We are going to Black History"
Little Tudor Turtle: "Wait, I already know about the peanut and the spook who sat by the door. I mean, last year, during Black History Month, we learned about Lorraine Hansberry and Adam Clayton Powell."
Wizard: "Well my bumpy shelled little friend, Lorraine Hansberry did not write, "The Spook That Sat By The Door". "So come along, I think you and a few other people (Negroes) need a little schooling... I think you need the real thang"
Tudor Turtle: Wait, I know that song, that's by Marvin Gay & Tammy Terrel... "ain't nothing like the real thang baby"
Wizard: See, that's what's wrong with some Negroes. They know all there is to know about sport and play, and can sing like the birds, but are they passing down the real thang?
Turtle: But Mr. Wizard, what is this real thang that you keep talking about?
Wizard: Shut your mouth and you might learn something. Look at those happy-go-lucky Negroes over there. Down there sitting at that round table.
The scene shifts to a room full of black faces. It's an auditorium filled with youth and their parents. On the stage, at a chalk board, a young black kids hurries to write a name...
He can be heard saying the letters as he meticulously forms their outline.
Black kid: "T.H.E T.U.S.K.E.G.E.E A.I.R.M.E.N."
The Crowd: "That's right!" "That's my son!" "Tell the truth Boy" "That boy is smart!"
After a series of questions, another black youth is seen standing at the chalk-board.
He begins: "W.I.L.L.I.A.M W.E.L.L.S B.R.O.W.N"
The Crowd: "SAY IT LOUD BOY!" "Oh shit, we gotta battle now" "Oh lawd, dem boys knows what they talkin' bout"
The little turtle is excited because he had never heard of many of the championed black heroes. But the Wizard had seen enough. The Wizard had seen history in all it's ugliness. Consequently, he thought those jovial Negroes, those image conscience leaders of the black race, needed a taste of the real thang. With a crisp move of his magical wand, he appeared on stage in front of the mesmerised and stunned crowd.
Wizard: "Hear Ye, my mislead black friends. Black History Month should be just what it is and not what it's not. Negroes that know the real truth, is the happiest lot. And, btw, that's a lot"
Crowd: "Get outta here you crazy white man. We are free to do as we please"
Little Tudor Turtle: "Come on Wiz, lets get out of here, they are all hyped on that Jeopardy game of "Name That Negro". And see, I can understand their disdain because I don't know what you are trying to say... either"
Wizard: "Do you remember the name Simon Wiesential? Well, he was a Nazi Hunter. Today... TODAY, I am talking about the retched inhumanity of slavery. See, the Jewish community didn't spend their time and money on feel good board games. They didn't have time for that nonsense. They built a center that sees over 1/2 million visitor a year! It was founded to challenge visitors to confront bigotry and racism and to understand the Holocaust in both historical and contemporary context. They know they can't afford the luxury of ever forgetting the REAL thang. The American Negro is tranquilized. They rest with their bellies full of special holidays and passes to the good neighborhoods and good government jobs and good straight hair and light skin"
Little Misguided Tudor Turtle: Please Mr. Wizard, you're making me feel uncomfortable. Besides, slavery wasn't as bad as the Holocaust, so we should just let it go. If I was a slave...
The Wizard: "Hold it right there, the Jews were some of the first slaves and I am going to let you have your wish. I am going to take you back to the shores of Africa. I'm going to be with you, but you will not be able to see me, but you will be able to hear me. When you have a problem, speak to me and I'll respond"
Little Turtle: "BUT!"
The Wizard: "But nothing, lets go"
The little turtle has again made his move too soon. The wizard waved his magic stick and the turtle was off to Africa. We see him as a proud king standing over his flock. He's in the Congo. It's a hot and humid summer day. He hears a cry from afar, off in the brush. Then the scene changes. We hear the voice of the little turtle.
Little Turtle: *yelling* "Mr Wizard!" "Mr Wizard!"
Wizard: "Be quiet my son, there's nothing you can do now. You're at the bottom of a dark and dank slave ship"
Little Turtle: "But where is my father?" "Where is my mother?"
Wizard: "It doesn't matter now, you will never see them again. Conserve your energy and hold on to life. How do you feel?"
Confused Little Turtle: "My back is on fire and there's an awful smell around me"
Wizard: "That smell is death! That man chained next to you, he died several days ago. The man laying above you is dying of dysentery. That substance on your chest, and the rest of your body, is his bowel movement. That's also the feces of several slaves in the tiers above him. Lay still, that pain in your back is your flesh being rubbed off by the movement of the ship. Please hold on. Only one third of you will make it through this middle passage. You are not even half way there. STAY ALIVE!"
Turtle: "But where am I, and where am I going?"
Wizard: "you are in a place that some would call a living hell, and you are traveling to an evil land"
Hundreds of days later
Weak and dying little Turtle: "Mr. Wizard, why have we stopped and what is that sound hitting the ship?"
Wizard: "You have arrived at your new home. It is a place called America. You are a slave. You are chattel that will soon be owned by an exploiter of black humans. Your wife is on another ship. Your sister died in the middle passage. While your brother was being lead to the top deck of his dungeon, he jump into the sea. He could no longer bare his pain. You may never see your wife again. It's also possible that she may not want to see you again, because she will be, degraded, humiliated, raped and brutalized by her new slave masters. The product of those brutal attacks, her children by her new master, will also be slaves to be sold, or to be used to produce more slaves. Those sounds that you hear outside the ship, are the bodies of slaves that were thrown overboard from several miles out to sea. They died in the final leg of the journey and their bodies have drifted inland. The Governor of the state of South Carolina is appalled at the sight of those bodies. Not because of the death of humans but because of the stench of the bodies floating in his harbor"
Suffering Little Turtle: "OH HELP ME LORD, I don't want to be a slave anymore! How many are like me? How many of my people have died"
Wizard: "You asked how many have died on this journey? MILLIONS! This has been going on for hundreds of years. The Holocaust lasted a few years. There will be a severe price to pay for your freedom, if you ever achieve it!"
Turtle: "I will run, I'd rather die trying to gain my freedom, than to live a life that's less than a dog's"
Wizard: "Run then my friend. When you get a chance,run, and may God be with you"
Several years later, the little turtle that wanted to be a slave, is seen withering in pain. He tried to escape his bondage.
Turtle: "Mr. Wizard, what is this pain!? What is happening to me"
The Wizard: "For your repeated attempts to run to freedom, you have a yoke around your neck and you have been branded with hot irons, just like cattle , "
A FEW YEARS LATER:
The little turtle is seen holding on to life. He has been castrated for his last attempt at freedom. Other slaves are seen hanging from trees with their genitals stuffed in their mouths. Word has spread that hundreds of freed black are being burned at the stake for a protest in the State of New York. The resilience, courage and spirit of the black man can not be broken. Angola Warriors started an uprising on the coastline of South Carolina. They tried to make it to a free colony in the State of Florida. They failed, all were killed.
Wizard: "Twizzle Twazzle Twizzle Trone, time for this one, to come home. "How many times I tell you? Be just what you is and what you is not. Those that do this (people and turtles), are the happiest lot"
The Little Turtle and the Wizard sat down for a long conversation. The wizard explained to the turtle that some Negroes believe they have arrived and thus, feel no need to pass down the real thang. They are content with their month of celebration and have forgotten their real past struggles. They'd rather dress to impress and win the big prize that goes along with knowing that famous black negro. The Jewish community has places like the Simon Wiesenthal Center. They will never forget and will not allow others to merge their history into a mere month long celebration of "we have overcome". The Black American has the NAACP and Black History Month.
Are we there yet?