Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: Abraham Lincoln

This quote from Ijeoma Oluo reads, “Even the most virulent American racist has to wrestle with the fact that the United States would not exist were it not for people of color.”

What Black History Month means to me

At the coldest, bleakest time of each year in the United States, we observe first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in late January, and then Black History Month in February.

I know there are non-racist reasons for this scheduling. Dr. King’s birthday is January 15. February was chosen by a Black historian for Black History Month (originally Black History Week) because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both were born in February (Feb. 12 and 14, respectively).

But I sometimes feel as if this is a way white people accepted so they could seem “enlightened,” get them over with early, and then move on. Like maybe they won’t have to think about Black people the rest of the year.

This quote from Chris Rock says, “Black History Month is in the shortest month of the year, and the coldest—just in case we want to have a parade.”
(AZ Quotes)

Thinking about Black people all year

In recent years I’ve observed Black History Month annually on Artdog Adventures. But we cannot relegate any aspect of our history and national culture to a shadowed corner for ten and a half months of the year.

It’s impossible to live an honest life in today’s world without acknowledging Black people’s pervasive contributions to all aspects of our society, and the incredible depth of their talent pool. Simply put, Black people make our country a better place to live.

This quote from Yvette Clarke says, “We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.”
(AZ Quotes)

Like other meaningful annual observations, Black History Month should be a time of renewing our understanding and deepening our knowledge. The only way to truly grow in our antiracist understanding is to go back to the well of clear-eyed understanding with open-hearted empathy.

Black History Month at a unique moment in US history

If 2020 taught us anything, it should have taught us that way too many of us white folks are clueless and insensitive at best, can often be racist jerks, and may even be violent white supremacists at worst. It should have taught us to respect the massive contributions to our lives by our communities of color.

These groups disproportionately provided the essential workers who’ve kept the rest of us alive—at great personal cost. They came out to vote in huge numbers, overcoming sometimes-daunting obstacles, and literally saved our democracy (if we can keep it). In many ways, white Americans cannot easily fathom how very much gratitude we owe them.

This quote from Ijeoma Oluo reads, “Even the most virulent American racist has to wrestle with the fact that the United States would not exist were it not for people of color.”
(Jan S. Gephardt)

Of course, a lot of us white people are really slow learners, so the inequities persist. A living wage continues to elude many who are still employed. Medical professionals who should know better continue to cherish magical thinking about Black pain tolerance or ignore what their Black patients say. Systemically racist police practices continue to oppress and overpolice and kill.

No turning back now

Some powerful (and a lot of ordinary) white people still act and talk as if we could go back to “the way it used to be” after the pandemic has passed. Now that we have a new administration, they say, we should let bygones be bygones, in the name of “unity.

News flash: time marches on, just as inexorably as the Black Lives Matter demonstrators did last summer. Change has occurred. We’ve seen too much, lost too many family members, and sacrificed too much to subside into numb complacency now.

Not if we retain the smallest scintilla of survival instinct.

This quote from Sister Peggy O’Neill, S.C. reads, “Together we imagine a circle of compassion with no one standing outside of it.”
(Ignatian Solidarity Network)

If we didn’t realize it before, we no longer have any excuses. Everyone now knows how very many things can, and have, and do go wrong. When incompetent people collude with greedy people from a position of abused power, disasters ensue.

It’s going to take all of us, with all of our pooled talent, strength, and resiliency, to pull our country out of the fire. Let’s harness the understandings we gain during Black History Month, together with the spirit of genuine antiracism. Then let’s go forward to create a better future for all of us.


Many thanks to AZ Quotes: first for the Chris Rock quote, and second for the quote from US Rep. Yvette Clarke. I assembled the quote from author Ijeoma Oluo with some help from 123rf. And I appreciate the Ignatian Solidarity Network for the quote from Sister Peggy O’Neill, SC.

Shifting focus

I hope Mr. Escher was right, because right now I’ve got a big, chaotic pileup of things that I’ve had on “hold” for weeks on end, and now it’s time to deal with them. So far, producing order hasn’t been all that lovely a task.

Why the pileup? Because something had to give. For these last many weeks, my primary focus had to be consistently, obsessively, compulsively, on One Important Thing.

I spent the weeks between Fourth of July and Labor Day this year embarked on a massive push to fix all the myriad little oopses, flaws, continuity issues, and plot holes large and small that had beset my science fiction novel What’s Bred in the Bone as it went through multiple drafts.

It was daunting, challenging, and ultimately quite exhilarating to see it all come together at last. It helped that I had that wonderfully clarifying imperative, a deadline.

Actually, I try to focus on what matters, as a matter of principle, as much as possible. The exercise of seeking out the most important things and focusing on those can be quite rewarding, and it can make your life amazing.

But practical reality will take its pound of flesh eventually. Every once in a while you simply have to stop and do the dishes. Or feed the kids. Or get up and move your body around. Or pay bills. Everybody’s got something.

My family, it must be said, is amazingly supportive. They’ve stayed busy with their own things and gone off in their own orbits, certainly. But they also covered for me A LOT.

Now it’s payback time.

Shifting my focus is proving to be a bit like turning a battleship, in no small part because I really got used to writing all the time with no other responsibilities, and a large part of me just doesn’t wanna “adult” today. What I really want is to go back to Rana Station.

Soon, I’ll get my chance. But not yet, dang it!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for several of the quote images used in today’s post: M. C. Escher’s hopeful quote about bringing order to chaosAlexander Graham Bell’s thoughts on focus, and Abraham Lincoln’s advice on the hazards of evading one’s responsibilities. I also appreciate the 101 Inspirational Quotes for Designers post from Web Designer Depot, where I found the “Focus on what matters” graphic. I love you all!

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