Every February I get in a funk and don't come out of it until the warm rays of summer and the majestic peaks of Mount Rainier soothe my troubled soul.
Don't get me wrong, I believe that Black History Month is one of the most important months of the year and that's why I end up in a funk every year. I want more from this month than it's capable of giving me.
Okay brother, what is it that you want?
I want this month to be more than a dialogue about a past as though the history of my race began when we were shipped here as slaves. It took me years to put together the real reasons for slavery in this hemisphere and it mostly was the result of Black Moors conquering and controlling Spain, Portugal and half of France for nearly 800 years.
That culture laid the foundation of European culture as it exists in Europe today. It was not until 1492 that the last of these Black Muslims were then pushed back into Africa. They left the Iberian Peninsula, retreated back to Africa and made Timbuktu one of the most remarkable cities of the time.
It was their ships, charts and some of their crews that Columbus used to come to America, and it was during that fateful first voyage that the fate of Africans was determined. The Roman Catholic Church had just taken over and was determined to eliminate anything Muslim from the history and culture of the Iberian Peninsula.
To this day these 800 years are rarely taught in American history books. In spite of Shakespeare references to the Black Moor named Othello, people rarely understand that the Black Moors were the dominant group in the region.
Because of slavery we developed a history that eliminated any references to Africans being the dominant group over Europeans. You cannot tell a slave that he has ever been your master or he may begin to see himself as something more than a slave. It was a history that told us that we have always been subservient to Europeans from the dawn of civilization, now and forever.
Even in those areas that were predominantly African, like Egypt, we painted the leaders and other prominent people as white or so lightly colored that the fact they were African would never come into your mind.
It still exists today. Most of the racial realities that existed during slavery still linger, and even well educated people still don't see Egypt as part of Africa and African civilization. All of our pictures of the first people - Adam and Eve or cavedwellers - are white even though our science constantly explains that all the original people were black.
Even when we talk about space and go thousands of years into the future, all of the people on the other planets are white-looking with different colored hair and extra eyes, and the leaders of the Earth contingent are almost always European.
So when Columbus sailed into the Caribbean basin and ran into a ship full of Black Muslims who indicated that they lived in the region, the fate of Black people was sealed. Columbus sent a letter to the newly selected Spanish pope and told him about the Muslims. The pope's response was swift and decisive. He basically said that Columbus should enslave the Children of Ham wherever he found them.
That gave Columbus permission to enslave the dark skinned Arawak Native Americans, which eventually lead to slavery as we knew it. Columbus called them Indians because they looked like the dark skinned people along India's Southern coast.
Don't take my word for this, look it up. I warn you, this information may take some time to find, but you can find it if you look hard enough.
But in spite of that history, this month should also be about what we are doing to make America a world beacon of hope today and tomorrow. The past is needed because we must know where we came from. If it is not a foundation for us to stand on while contemplating our present and future, it becomes a personal and racial quagmire that sucks us into slavery's past and leaves us hopeless about the future.
Black History Month is more about an honest history of the world than it is about Black people.
We should not have to take time to fill in our piece of world history, but the gaps are too glaring and the mis-education about the past leads to a misunderstanding about the present, and future, of this planet.
So, as I see the funk descending, tell the story we must during Black History Month. I must embrace it and fight to light a fire that illuminates the hope of an American future and hold on until the warm rays of summer lighten my spirit.
Charlie James may be reached via the address and e-dress below.