The Monday Barrage – We Wore Nike’s to the African American History Museum

Welcome back my friends!

I’d like to welcome a guest writer to The Barrage.  You may know her as The Boss Lady, I know her as simply my “bae.”  Thank you Rachael for your wonderful and hard-hitting contribution this week.  She had a lot to say this week, and only half of it made the editor’s cut (ha-ha), so stay tuned to part II of her guest post coming soon.

But for now I welcome you to take a look at this week’s Barrage by Rachael Boston.  Enjoy!

MB

1. Day trip to D.C. to visit the National African American History and Culture Museum

On Friday, the girls had a scheduled day off from school, so we took advantage of this unrestricted occasion by taking a day trip to Washington D.C. – our destination, the National African American History Museum.

Let me pause for a minute to ask you this question:  What do you remember learning about black history in school? Maybe a glossy lesson or two about slavery, a watered down version about Dr. King and his dream, or Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man…sound familiar?

These are of course important highlights, yet they are an oversimplified version of a more complex and much richer history of a people who literally built this nation with their hands.

“Black contributions to society are not being recognized in the pantheon of American history.” – Andre Perry

The men, women, and children of African descent who toiled to turn this land into a country have gone largely unnoticed and unrecognized both for their mighty struggles and contributions, until now.

The National African American History and Culture Museum is dedicated to the notion that black history IS American history!

Like many people, we had unsuccessfully attempted several times to grab tickets since it’s opening two years ago, due to its popularity and a strictly controlled ticketing system.  However during the month of September, the museum is piloting a new ticket free system allowing visitors to enter on a first come, first serve basis.

Although admission is always free, let me tell you, I hope this pilot is a success because it was much more convenient and it creates minimal wait times similar to the other well visited national museums.

The NMAAHC, is touted as the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture in its effort to highlight the rich history and celebrate the contributions of African Americans in shaping this nation.

It opened on this day, September 24, 2016, as the newest Smithsonium museum.

There are 3 sections of the museum (C1-C3) designed to move you from the bottom up and chronologically through distinct eras in this country’s African American experience starting unflinchingly from slavery to freedom, to defending and defining freedom – the era of segregration and civil rights 1876-1968, to the modern day changing american from 1968 and beyond.

During our visit we also took a break to lunch at the museum’s Sweet Home Café, which had 4 different station offerings of food representing different cultural regions: Creole Coast, Agricultural South, Northern States, and Western Range.

Of course we sampled from all of them! Check out the full menu at  https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/sweet-home-cafe.

This trip did not disappoint, and I would encourage everyone and anyone who wants to learn the unvarnished and comprehensive truth of American History to visit.

2.  Nike – Just do it!

The controversy surrounding Nike’s latest ad campaign that features former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has been all the buzz.  Since Nike has thrown their support behind this young, courageous black man, some short-sighted thinkers have vowed to never buy Nike again.  Several of them have even gone as far as to burn their Nike shoes (instead of donating them to the less fortunate) placing their fiery distain for his right to kneel on full display.

Others of us have been inspired by Nike’s stance and thus have decided to show our support for Nike’s decision to side with Kap, by purchasing Nike products.

If you’ve been under a rock the last couple of years or you just got back to Earth from a two-year visit to Mars, Kaepernick’s name has become synonymous with taking a knee during the national anthem which began as his way of highlighting the issue of police brutality.

Nike has chosen to acknowledge this by choosing Kaepernick as the new face of the shoe.  Some view Nike’s stance as un patriotic or anti-American or disrespectful to veterans – which has been the charge directed at Kaepernick since the beginning of his protest.

Being a family of color, we are well aware of the injustices that we as a people have faced, and still continue to face in this country and abroad.  I don’t believe any person of color of a certain age can say – that even in today’s age, that they have not experienced or become a bit jaded by the various forms of discrimination or overt racism directed toward them, solely based upon the color of their skin.

I know the feeling!

We are also aware that our communities have been over policed for years.. Many people who were once unaware of this fact are now waking up to it and waning in their acknowledgment.

We also understand that during the time that the Star-Spangled Banner was drafted, it was not written with freedom and justice in mind for people of color.  These words were not written to include my ancestors, and for a large part, still don’t fully represent their descendants to this day.

If you’ve never read all the refrains of the Star-Spangled Banner, I invite you to.

So, before accusations of being anti-patriotic or anti-American are hurled, please learn the history of those you condemn so those you may receive greater insight into how others might feel.

Ignorance and the refusal to acknowledge or accept the consequences of the past run rampant in our society.  The incomplete, one-sided history taught in most schools is a disgrace and reparations for the descendants of those who built this country for free is scoffed at.  Let us also not forget that many of our other fellow disenfranchised citizens received various forms of reparations (Jews, Native Americans). So when the sons and daughters of former slaves support a brother who take a knee to protest police brutality, the script is flipped to being “against the soldiers.”

In our house, recognizing the power of how we choose to spend our dollars, we attempt to align that power with as many of our values as possible.  So, I support Nike for the simple fact that they have publicly shown support on this issue.

I like Nike, but wait a minute…the neighborhood supports so put some money in it…all corporations owe, they gotta give up the dough for my town or else we gotta Shut Em’ Down! – Chuck D from the song Shut Em’ Down.

I think that one day we’ll see that Nike will be on the right side of history in this instance.

Having an advanced degree in business, I am by no means misled by the potential marketing ploys in this case or the blatant appeal to its consumer base.

I’m sure Nike strategically assessed the financial impact of their decision and found that they’d have little to lose by having a dog in the fight.

What I can say definitively is that they are the only company I know of that has been brave enough to wade in on this critical issue, despite the very divisive political flack they’d inevitably receive.

I do support those who are brave enough to take a stand in this heightened climate of social unrest. We live in a time where certain forces brought the mainstream to light on long standing injustices that have gone unrecognized in this nation.

The value for me is in the acknowledgment that Nike has made of this being an issue – in whatever form that takes.  My support lies within the message.

 

Rachael Boston

 

 

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience at the museum (and love the video). I’ve been once and it is a visit that must be repeated several times to get the full effect. The world is definitely not taught the extensive contributions our ancestors have made, and the contributions we continue to make.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s