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The BEAST Abridged Guide to Black History
It’s hard to identify all the “black” history amongst all the regular American history, especially if it’s nighttime—all you can see is teeth and eyes. The very notion that “black” history occupies a separate—but unequal—space in our national consciousness exemplifies the institutionalized racism in our society. By setting aside the coldest and shortest month of the year to “celebrate diversity,” and talk about the advent of peanut butter, we do a disservice to history itself.
In a society obsessed—for good reason—with race, we approach the subject with cowardice and shame, if at all. Our national conversation pertaining to race is, well, um, skin-deep, and in the media, boils down to semantic controversies. For this reason, The BEAST has compiled the following list of lesser-known “black” American history. Enjoy!
1619: The first ship carrying approximately 20 African slaves docked for trade in Jamestown, Virginia, creating a general disregard for sailing in the African American community, which continues to this day; the new found slaves begin cultivating a fondness for menthols and hot sauce—and millions of tons of cotton.
1625: Blacks invent “soul.”
1712: The New York Slave Revolt. 23 blacks and 9 honkies set fire to a building near the city’s center. 27 slaves were captured and killed for the fiery insurrection, reinforcing the stereotype that white people aren’t very good at counting, but their killing skills are unparalleled.
1739: South Carolina slaves meet at the Stono River and march for freedom toward Spanish Florida, burning plantations, freeing other slaves, gathering munitions and killing whitey along the way. Eventually, the rebellion is quashed, the slaves are decapitated and their head placed on pikes.
1742: “Reading Rainbow’s” Levar Burton is taken prisoner aboard the slave ship USS Enterprise and forced to adopt the name Toby Laforge, according to Alex Haley.
1789: George Washington becomes the first American president of African descent. With false teeth constructed from ivory, and held together with gold wiring, Washington was also the first guy to sport an “icy grill.”
1822: The American Colonization Society literally sets about bringing freed slaves back to Africa, where they establish the country of Liberia. In the ultimate irony, today, many Liberian descendants of American blacks work in slave-like conditions on Firestone-owned rubber plantations. There’s nothing funny about this.
1840: Amistad slave ship revolt is directed by Steven Spielberg.
1849: Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground Railroad.
1850: General Motors buys out the Underground Railroad and closes it down, bribing congress into building the Underground Thruway.
1857:The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.
1861: The south secedes and the confederacy is born. The event is memorialized in custom paint jobs on muscle cars to this day.
1863: President Lincoln issues the emancipation proclamation, declaring that all slaves would henceforth be free. It only took a century to enforce!
1865: The Ku Klux Klan is formed, in a scam perpetrated by the white sheet industry.
1879: The Black Exodus takes place, in which tens of thousands of African Americans migrated from southern states to Kansas. Kansas laughs nervously and draws curtains.
1911: Al Jolson becomes first man of color to break through the Vaudeville Ceiling.
1920: The Harlem Renaissance flourishes in the 1920s and 1930s. This literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fosters a new black cultural identity, and makes stunning advances in the development of flamboyant hats.
1922: Douglas Johnson becomes the first black man to be ignored by a horseless cab driver.
1923: Johnson continues innovating, becoming the first black man to yell at a movie screen. Scholars vary in their reportage of this milestone, but all agree he said something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t go in there!”
1937: Bill Cosby is born.
1947: Jackie Robinson begins the process of taking over professional sports. White athletes find some protection in their ability to afford ice skates.
1955: Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Seriously, what a dick that guy must have been, right?
1963: Bill Cosby releases his debut comedy album, Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow, Right! including the groundbreaking “Noah” bit. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” advocating non-violent civil disobedience. While Cosby’s routines become classics of comedy, non-violence proves to be a passing fad.
1964: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination. A 3-year-old Barack Obama is troubled by this slight against Dr. King’s legacy.
1965: Bill Cosby’s debut in interracial espionage show “I Spy,” triggering passage of the Voting Rights Act. However, Malcolm X is assassinated.
1966: Shamicka Jones becomes the first black woman to have a weird, made up name.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. dies in an act of violent resistance.
1969: Cosby launches “The Bill Cosby Show,” a situation comedy that aired for only two years, due mainly to racism among Nielsen families. Clearly, the nation is not yet ready for Cosby.
1972: “Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids” debuts and achieves major success, finally ending the horrific Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
1975: Black people officially begin to feel self-conscious when eating watermelon.
1979: CIA introduces crack into the black community, because assassinating black leaders and shutting down Black Panther free breakfast programs for children just wasn’t twisted enough.
1984: The dream comes true: “The Cosby Show” debuts, soon becoming the highest rated show in primetime.
1987: In a setback for race relations, Cosby stars in Leonard Part 6.
1990: Spinning hubcaps are invented by David Fowlkes, Jr., but are suppressed by the forces of inequality for another decade.
1992: “The Cosby Show” goes off the air; Race riots break out in Los Angeles.
1994: Cosby continues to stumble with “The Cosby Mysteries,” but strikes another blow against the powers of hate with “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.”
1997: The Sprewell rebellion occurs, when NBA star Latrell Sprewell attacks and chokes Warriors coach P. J. Carlesimo.
2007: Cosby enters “cranky old man” phase with release of Come on People.
2008: Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy shows America that a black man can be a viable presidential candidate, as long as he speaks well, is a Democrat and doesn’t refer to his race. Cosby is pleased.
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