In 1976, when Black History Month was officially acknowledged by the U.S. government, President Gerald Ford gave a (very brief) speech. "In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers.," Ford said. "But, even more than this, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." Almost 40 years since Ford's remarks, the belief that Black History Month is used as a time to "honor the too-often neglected accomplishments" of blacks that have helped better shape America is only partially true.
A tipster forwards us this "Black History Heritage Meal" menu from the US Army base in Ft. Bragg, NC: fried chicken, pig feet, ham hocks, collard greens... all the stereotypical foods are represented. The ol' "comedically stereotypical Black History Month menu" is a pretty damn familiar trope of its own, at this point. I'm more impressed by the US Army's open-minded photo montage.
Eeesh. The New York Times is celebrating black history month! How? Why, with a special culinary theme in their fancy new cafeteria! An in-house flyer promises appropriately festive spreads each Tuesday in February at the café's International Station. So what kinds of foreign and exotic delicacies awaited hungry Timesers today? Watermelon slices, for starters, according to one. Also! Pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, corn bread and hickory baked beans. Sweet tooth? Wait until Thursday, when the weekly February Chocolate Festival gears up again. We couldn't make this shit up if we tried. Menu after the jump.
The last week of Black History Month started so well! Two black people won Oscars! But it was all downhill from there: A city council hearing aimed at discouraging the use of a racist and offensive (contextually speaking) term—what the papers call "the 'n' word"—resulted in that term being used nearly fifty times. Back on the West Coast, a San Francisco newspaper was forced to pull a column entitled "Why I Hate Blacks." One sample reason: "Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years." (Full column at right, click to enlarge.) In South Africa, white folks have begun to rally around a song that extols the virtues of an Afrikaner general. In trying times like these, where can a troubled soul turn to get away, however briefly, from the tangled thicket of race and its presentations? Maybe to the culture section!