The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world. If you walk into a random stranger on the street, they’re likely to have religious, political, and social beliefs that are different from yours. It’s the norm here in America, but there are many places in which perspectives get pretty homogeneous. But even with the diversity in perspectives that we encounter on a daily basis, most of us learned about similar topics as school age children. We grow up and develop differing opinions and values, but we all know what photosynthesis is. We know that the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria aren’t the names of two hurricanes and Santa’s mistress. We recite our alphabets with similar rhythm and intonation.
Which makes sense, I suppose. Employing similar curricula in primary schools across the nation is a good way to establish what “common knowledge” is. It’s also a good way to ensure that we can all name the same Black people by the time we graduate. All because teachers remember to mention Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass (Black History Month starting 5) once every year until you finish high school. By the time people become adults and Black History Month keeps coming around, the attention garnered by the starting five dwindles. Everyone becomes convinced that there are only a few notable Black people in all of history and they were all born after 1800. Somehow, the textbooks fail to mention Black people at every opportunity. Africans were the earliest scientists, mathematicians and astrologists, they were settling in the Americas as early as 3,000 B.C., and we can’t get no shine until we create the first American clock and 205 products made from peanuts?
We’ve been affecting history throughout the world since humanity existed. From Balthazar (the Blackest of the 3 wise men), to Septimus Serverus (the Blackest Roman emperor), to the ancient Olmecs (The Blackest acient civilization in the Americas), our presence has been expansive and impactful without being toxic or parasitic. The notion that our notable contributions to society only exist during US slave trade and the Civil Rights Movement holds no merit. I feel like racism and oppression flourished in the United States partially because people were unaware of how excellent Black people really are. So in honor of Black Excellence Month, I will observe the accomplishments of some lesser-known Black figures who have affected our everyday lives with their inventions. Since so many still seem to be unaware…
If you’ve never played video games online against strangers, let me advise you, the headset is not for the faint of heart. Adolescents across the world will throw any expletive or slur at you to gain another frag. When I hear 12 year old Billy from Wisconsin screaming the n-word at the top of his lungs, I wonder if he’s aware that his punk ass wouldn’t be able to talk all that smack if it weren’t for this Black nerd.
Before becoming a developer for the Atari 2600, Jerry Lawson created the Fairchild Channel F. The FCF was the first gaming console released to the public that allowed people to play multiple video games on a single console. Before, you had to buy consoles that came with one game installed. This dude invented console gaming, the ability to buy and play multiple games on a single device. Show some respect to the genius.
When I watch Fox News by mistake, or turn to the wrong station while driving through the bible belt, I sometimes hear some racist shit. When I hear pundits equate “welfare recipient” to “Black person”, I wonder if they’re aware that they wouldn’t even be able to share that ignorance with world if…
That’s right, Dr. James E. West invented the first microphone that didn’t require an external power source. It’s what makes talking on a cell phone possible, it’s what makes talk shows possible. His patent is used in 90% of the microphones made today. Dr. West patented his design in 1962, three years before the Voting Rights Act.
Recognize the excellence every time you see a mic.
We’ve talked about a lot of racist occurrences in and around elevators here on 40AC. The most common being the one that involves white women acting like they’re in the trailer for Devil every time a Black guy steps through the doors. While she’s worrying about her safety, I wonder if she’s aware that she’d definitely be in danger if it weren’t for…
Alexander Miles of Duluth, Minnesota patented the electric elevator in 1887 and rocked some mean facial hair. He didn’t invent the elevator, but he made it what it is today. Before Alexander flexed his excellence, elevators required a door to manually closed on each floor every time the car went to a different level. When the elevator was on the first floor, there was just doorway leading into a pitfall on the 20th floor. When people forgot to lock the door, mad people fell to their deaths. Miles invented the elevator that keeps people from dying like Acme cartoons. Think about that next time you want to clench your purse.
Black history is everywhere. It’s in the carbon filament in your light bulb, it’s in your air conditioning, it’s in the White House. We’ve made contributions to civilization since the beginning of time, and we continue to do so in numerous realms. Let’s do our best to remember the excellence at all times, no matter what month it is.
Black Excellence, we been doin’ this.