Pink Elephant History Month

Here’s a very short video with Morgan Freeman and Mike Wallace discussing a little history:

We categorize people for many reasons. We differentiate children from adults, for purposes of knowing who should be taking care of whom. We different criminals from non-criminals for purposes of knowing who must be penalized for crimes committed. With these and other examples, we can see that categorization is needful and useful at times.

However, when we categorize people according to the amount of melanin in their skin, we are not usually performing a useful task. Instead, we are focusing on an entirely superficial characteristic to either elevate or denigrate the group vis a vis some other group of people.

Stop calling attention to something, and it will go away. On the other hand, if you keep talking about something, it is hard to not pay attention. Now, I’d like you all to stop thinking about pink elephants–July is just not their month.

HT: The Other McCain

2 thoughts on “Pink Elephant History Month

  1. The logic of the solution presented here is quite interesting:

    “Stop calling attention to something, and it will go away.”

    That’s how a lot of people try, unsuccessfully, to deal with sin in their lives.

    But I understand Freeman’s desire to eschew a prepackaged identity. I like how people in the upper midwest relate to their historical identity – very proud to be Norwegian, Dutch, and so on (teach the kids to eat lutefisk) but not in a way that competes with being an individual or forcing it on others.

    1. David,

      I should have said “stop calling attention to something which exists largely because people continue to call attention to it” (hence the reference to pink elephants). The something here being a supposed difference in people’s worth based on their skin color.

      I am by no means stating that one should ignore everything and it will go away. Your example of how sin is treated is correct, both that people do so and that it makes no difference.

      It is indeed worth celebrating one’s history (and one’s historical identity) but to do so in a way that shows one’s gratefulness for it and not to use it as a weapon against others.

      As a bit of an aside, the interesting thing about family histories is that none of us has to go back more than a few generations to find both rogues and righteous people.

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