Everyday Counts, Everyday Matters

This being a leap year, February has 29 days; and because the month started on a Sabbath, it is ending on a Sabbath.  February has five Sabbaths this year, something that doesn’t happen often. The extra day means that we get to celebrate Black History one more day. When it comes to focusing on Black History, every day counts, every day matters. Some people believe that commemorating or celebrating Black History  is divisive and counterproductive.  They say that the celebration opens up old wounds and leads to resentment at a time we should be pursuing unity and collaborative engagement. That we should bury the past and focus on the future is the cry of countless individuals.  How do you feel?  What’s your opinion?
From the moment people of color put foot on American soil, race has been a powerful force in American life. To argue otherwise is to betray a naïveté or, worse, an inclination to not face the facts or reality.  Today, centuries after the first Africans landed here to face a life of slavery and disenfranchisement, race continues to matter in the United States of America in no small or insignificant manner. Race is a polarizing element of American culture, with few things being able to elude its touch, if not grasp.

It really doesn’t take a Black History Month to remind us that, perhaps more than any other phenomenon in the United States of America, race matters.  The election campaign currently underway is proving it, and the furor provoked by comments 3ABN founder Danny Shelton recently made underscores it.

Have you ever wondered why race plays such a pivotal role in American life?   Not that it doesn’t in other countries or cultures, but in this country, it seems to dominate.   Its tentacles stubbornly reach deep into every facet of American life.   What is it about race that causes it to define and drive life in America?  The answers to this question run the gamut.   What is indisputable is that race matters, making the need for Black History critical.

Black History helps to correct a myriad of misconceptions and half-truths about the African American experience that still permeate in society.   Admittedly, people of color are not immune from the desensitization to race matters that plagues the American culture.  Americans of every race and hue need to be educated about the Black experience in America, which, fundamentally, has been a rendezvous with the almighty God.

Marvin Sapp reminds us in song that, had it not been for the Lord, we never would have made it.  We would have lost it all.  Sapp’s sentiments echo those of the psalmist David, who reminds us that “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:1-8).   Black History is not only American history, but, more importantly, salvation history.

What better time to explore Black History than this year, in which the Lake Region Conference is emphasizing that everyone counts, everyone matters.   American Indians bemoaned that their history had been disregarded.   The history of no group of people should be disparaged or neglected.   Everyone counts, everyone matters.

R. Clifford Jones