Ironic Smithsonian African American Museum Opening at time of Victims of Police Brute Force & Political Stereotyping of Who African-Americans Are
The irony is not lost on me when I am presented on three sides with the most positive and wonderful information on the grand opening, today, of the Smithsonian’s National African American History Museum in Washington, DC, a celebration of the contribution of great men and women of African descent who persevered during inhumane times, bad times, and times where the circumstances brought out the best in people rising above the most difficult challenges, seeing this through a kaleidoscope captured inside a triangle of media whose other two sides focus on what can only be described as ‘police overkill,’ while the third side of the triangle spews political rhetoric that stereotypes the African-American as poorly educated and living in squalor. Perhaps a trip to Washington, DC with a visit to the National African American History Museum could be a good start for those who are not acquainted with the contributions of the past and the present being made by African Americans.
If you’re going to take that trip, you might also want to stop in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum where you’ll learn, among other things, about the significant contribution of African Americans to the growth and development of US railroading. The study of the US rail systems is, at the same time, a testament to the contribution of the African American.
You can listen to the archived interview with Jeff Bleimeister, the museum’s head, in HOUR 2 of Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams which broadcast on February 28, 2016, if you click here and then click on HOUR 2. Do you know the expression, “The real McCoy?” That comes from the invention of a better train breaking product that was invented by a railway employee named McCoy. Others tried to copy his idea, design and patent but railroaders found that the best product was the ‘Real McCoy.’ Elijah McCoy was that inventor and he was the child of American slaves who fled to Canada to escape the injustices and oppression of the US. They went to Canada where Elijah was born in Ontario in 1844 and died in 1929. During his lifetime, he invented and held patents for 57 products, most of which related to lubrication of engines. We could count him as an Afro-American, and not an Afro-Canadian, were it not for the oppression of slavery driving his parents to find a safe haven. Had his parents stayed in the US, Elijah would have been born into a time of slavery and lived through, had he been lucky enough to survive, the Civil War. Fascinatingly, the British Empire ended slavery in all of its territories in 1841. That included all of the islands of the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world where the Brits embraced slavery as an economic advantage to growth in the Empire. Irish scholars find no coincidence that the Great Famine, better described as the Great Starvation since there was food that just wasn’t being shared, in Ireland was taking place at the time when the Brits were freeing slaves around the globe. They point out that slaves were no longer needed because, as Irish history scholar Derek Warfield notes, “The Brits didn’t need slaves anymore because they had the Irish.” It’s this synergy between the experience of the Irish under the harsh British rule of over 800 years, that created the bond between Daniel O’Connell, the George Washington of Ireland and Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist who was doing for African-Americans and slaves what Daniel O’Connell was doing for the Irish.
I often think that people who have never experienced more than a temper tantrum for not getting what they want the moment they want it are generally the ones who have no empathy for others. The least sensitive people tend to be those who have never had a moment of true suffering in their lives. Maybe it’s the history of the colonists and pioneers crossing America who needed to circle the wagons to keep out anyone not in their group that is at the route of the underlying exclusionary attitudes of so many featured in news broadcasts. I travel so much and see so many differences in cultures globally where I see so many people who are just naturally welcoming, warm, hospitable and bubbling over with friendliness only to come home to find that people can’t return a smile, don’t want to look one another in the eye and continue the practice of circling the wagons when there are newcomers in their community to keep them as outsiders, often for generations and generations.
This particular time, this unique moment, in the history of the US, with rhetoric presented on mass media giving scandalizing generalized descriptions of the lives of African Americans that sound like this is a class of people who are living in squalor and ignorance coupled with the indelible actions we learn about far too frequently of close encounters of Afro-Americans with police department personnel around the nation that end in the deaths of those detained in short order, it is truly ironic and a welcomed breath of fresh air to be celebrating the contribution in every field of endeavor by African-Americans who have made a significant contribution to the quality of life of Americans and others around the world. A visit to this newest attraction in Washington, DC should be part of every traveler’s plans. Note that admission is FREE but one must have a ticket to enter. Tickets are produced with a designated time for entry on them so it’s important that those lucky enough to get tickets are on time to arrive to enter the museum. At this point, tickets are scarce into November so keep that in mind when considering your travel plans. For complete information on obtaining tickets online to the National African American History Museum, click on this link to the official site for ticket acquisition. Be sure to read the part about companies and groups that may be creating counterfeit tickets that won’t be honored at this museum! Be sure to purchase your tickets from the museum itself to be assured your ticket will be honored.
--Gotta Fly Now!sm
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