Response to Commentary

Response to Dominique Drake’s commentary about Black History month in VenomNation Weekly, February 26, 2003.

I must begin by saying that apathy doesn’t equal ignorance. Apathy is the lack of interest or concern. Maybe your commentary should have discussed the reasons for the lack of concern by our younger African Americans instead of implying that we are ignorant (or lazy). Also, I’d like to ask, do you think that insulting young African Americans is really what’s going to get them interested in our rich heritage? We are far from ignorant. Many of us are fully aware of sacrifices made by men and women like Carter G. Woodson, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubious, Fannie Lou Hamer, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, and Thurgood Marshall, to name a few of the more prominent members who have contributed to our rich heritage. And yes, many of us are even familiar with the more obscure names, such as Oludoh Equiano (wrote his slave narrative before the Civil War), Gwendolyn B. Cherry (1st black woman elected to the FL Legislature), Richard Spikes (automatic gear shift), and Sarah Boone (ironing board). More importantly, we have not forgotten the sacrifices and contributions made by our own parents and grandparents.

Look around my fellow African American. We are “furthering the knowledge and appreciation for [our] forefathers.” We are not idly sitting by just attending HBCUs. Just because we don’t participate in Black History month the way YOU think we ought, doesn’t mean we are not appreciative. Our appreciation is shown in the sacrifices that we have made to attend an HBCU. Lest you forget, some could have attended Ivy League universities because they are just that bright. But instead, those individuals chose to keep their talent, intellect, and resources within our rich community. Many of us attend HBCUs because we want to continue that rich heritage. And many have graduated and continue to give back (or have you not read about Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit?). Get it?

February comes once a year; it lasts 28 days. You mean to tell me the only true way to acknowledge our rich heritage or to make the future better is to have a play, a program or some sort of presentation only 28 days out of the year? And for whom are these things done? You? Our white counterparts? Or our ancestors who have gone on before us? Bottom line: we are fully aware of our rich heritage, and we are seeking to preserve it and our future by furthering our education (especially at HBCUs).

I don’t believe you’ll get people, especially African Americans, to do anything by insulting them. We are not ignorant. Sure, we may appear to be apathetic at times, but if we are striving 365 days every year to make the future better in more tangible ways, such as educating ourselves and others, working, paying bills, taking care of our children, tutoring/mentoring, then we’ve done more than any contrived program could do in a lifetime (much less in 28 days).

I understand your resentment about the lack of participation at convocation. Maybe there should have been a better turnout. Who’s to say? Maybe there should have been some motivation or encouragement to attend. Who’s to say? And just maybe there were some good reasons why there was such a paucity of attendees on that day. Who’s to say?

As far as “[b]lack students hav[ing] a moral obligation to carry on the rich tradition passed down to them,” we are holding it up each day we take care of our families, our communities, and ourselves. Look beyond convocation (and Black History); we are upholding black history.

FYI: Check out the March 3, 2003 issue of NEWSWEEK.

Stephanie A. SandersFAMU class of 1994