Re-evaluating Black History Month

“O Thou, the Remover of every anguish and the Dispeller of every affliction. Thou are He who banisheth every sorrow and setteth free every slave…”

In the repetition required to add this Baha’i passage to my most recent memorizations, I was repeatedly reminded of the numerous types of slavery, which still exsist today although mostly self-imposed. When reference is made to slavery, however, one’s thoughts instinctively flash to physical chains, auction blocks and the indelible stain of hundreds of years of man’s inhumanity to man that marks the infancy of this comparatively new nation. As we usher in February, the shortest month of the Gregorian calendar year now celebrated as Black History Month, it may be timely to explore some of the new and more subliminal forms of slavery.

It is ironic that with court ordered desegregation of our nations public schools, in the early 50’s also came the proliferation of televisions in the homes of America. I can remember the astounding revelation at one point that there are more homes with televisions sets than bathtubs. The reference was probably being made to some rural areas. But the real irony is that the overt racism that was being outlawed on paper was far more effectively incorporated in covert television programming that continues today.

Through society’s enslavement to the TV sets it has become much easier to inject the poison of racism in a way that is not only more palatable, but in a matter in which victims actually love it. Better still are now added the venoms of materialism, agitation through manipulation and limitless possibilities of mind and behavioral altering patterns, through glorified violence, get-rich quick programs and continuous lowering of the bar on sexually explicit prime time programming.

Consider also the innumerable habits (mostly bad ones) that people have allowed themselves to become enslaved to. Some self-imposed, others through betrayed trusts in professional individuals and instruction. One unaltered equation remains-power + privilege = institutional racism, that became unpopular for a while, continuing now to gain resurgence. Equally cruel are the slave masters of nicotine, alcohol, narcotics and other elicit prescribed, over/or under the counter drugs, gambling or other debilitating habits over which we find we have no control-the new and multiple faces of slavery.

There are many organizations, agencies and programs in existence to lend assistance to those who sincerely seek freedom, most of which are spiritually or religiously based as one’s chances of escaping the innumerable overt and covert slave masters of today’s society are slim to none without some divine assistance or intervention.

Consider how, in centuries past slaves leaned heavily upon spiritual release from “the troubles of this world.” Just listen to the lyrics of most Negro Spirituals.

During this Black History Month, may we vow to cross these “Rivers of De-nial,” come to grips with our inability to free ourselves on our own from such inescapable slave masters and seek proven professionals assistance through physical, mental and spiritual means, utilizing all three aspects of man’s triune nature. For only the One God, (by whatever Name, However perceived) toward which all religious paths lead, can remove every anguish, dispel every affliction, banish every sorrow and set free every slave. Investigate!