Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Why are incidents/events call  Black?

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
December 19, 2015

Now that the yuletide season is upon us and Trinbagonians have completely exhaled after the appalling, overt euphoria/hysteria over the American-driven "Black Friday" shopping frenzied climax, it is apropos to discuss the phenomenon of using the word, albeit adjective, Black, to describe/label certain incidents/events.

For example, when the American Stock Market crashed on Monday, 19 October 1987, that calamity/catastrophe was described/labeled as "Black Monday" and that day was "ranked with the blackest days of the great crash of 1929."

Furthermore, in 1988, when several Americans were accused of defrauding the Defense Department out of possible billions of dollars in regard to irregularities in defense procurement contracts, that structural incident was described as a "Black hole". And in mid-November 1989, when Charles Keating was accused of stealing as much as $1.5 billion from his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, the conclusion was that "Lincoln dropped into a regulatory black hole" and Charles Keating was described/labeled as a "financial black beard."

And even when snow on America's interstate highways, streets, roads, bridges, etc., may portend something bad to happen, suddenly, that white snow is described/labeled as "Black ice."

In addition, whenever the 13th of any month falls on a Friday, suddenly, it becomes "Black Friday."

Indeed, another serious, very troubling scenario in which the color Black is assigned involves a plane's Flight Data Recorder. Now, when the plane takes off, the original colors of this instrument are orange and yellow. However, not wishing, when the plane crashes and/or disappears, then, suddenly, this original orange and yellow colored instrument is described/labeled as the "Black Box."

More specifically, even if the Flight Data Recorder instrument is severely mutilated/damaged/destroyed it is still orange and yellow in color. Why, then, is it described/labeled as the "Black Box?".

The fact of the matter is that conventional wisdom suggests that whenever something goes array; when something does not function in the positive way it is supposed to function; when something negatively happens; when there is a calamity/catastrophe; when the law is broken, etc., then, the label/adjective is used to describe such incidents/events.

Indeed, now that an African-American, a Black man, Barack Obama, has been elected and re-elected as the 44th President of the United States of America, now is the time not only for all Americans, in general, but also all personnel in the multidimensional aspects of the media, in particular, to be a bit more cautious and sensitive and voluntarily refrain from using the label "Black" to describe bad things/incidents and even human events.

Moreover, all members of the international community need to heed the poignant but apocalyptic admonition of slain African-American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as follows: "Now the judgement of God is upon us and we must either learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or we are all going to perish together as fools."

In the final analysis, now is the most opportune time for the entire international community, including Trinbagonians, to describe/label incidents/ events according to their stark reality rather than to designate such incidents/events along skin color lines.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus, Kent State University, USA.

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