Black! Lightning!

So today marks the beginning of the second Black History Month in Alberta. To honour that, I thought I’d do a piece on DC’s first black superhero:

Black Lightning! (The fact that his show is on Canadian Netflix now helps, too).

Join me under the cut!

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Today Is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

At least in the States, anyway. We don’t have this particular holiday in Canada.

Now, American history is not my strong suit. I’m much more of ancient and medieval history kind of guy. So I’m not going to insult the good doctor by engaging in an analysis I’m not qualified to give.

So I’ll let the man speak for himself:

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.-1955, in response to a claim that he was ‘disturbing the peace’ with the Montgomery Bus Boycott

 

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

Good afternoon!

So, this weeks update is going to be light, as I’m now in the middle of outlining and plotting, so there isn’t really a whole lot to, you know, update you on. It’s mostly just slog work at the moment.

Instead, I want to talk about Black History Month, both it’s successes and it’s failures.

First, the failures:

  1. It’s too damn short. It is and you know it. One month isn’t nearly enough time to cover the entire history of black people in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, never mind the entire province or country. And forget the states entirely.
  2. Black History Month lends itself to the Great Man style of history. And admittedly, I’m not helping by using quotes as my titles, even if they are from genuine bona fide heroes like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass. At lot of this has to do with how short it is: a biography of a person is a lot easier to condense into a single month than the complex socio-political-economics that first created the slave trade and then ended it. That is not to say that these heroes do not deserve recognition; rather in order to understand just what made them such great heroes in the first place we must understand the world they were born into, the world that changed them, and the world that they changed.

Secondly, the triumphs:

  1. It is a month, a whole solid month dedicated to one single historical topic. That’s it, but it’s a damn sight better than most history we get. History today, especially in Alberta, is watered-down white-washed pap that conforms to easy to sell narratives that fit people’s political agendas rather than delving into the glorious complexity of human life. Black History Month, and its compatriots like Asian Heritage Month, while not doing nearly enough to counter the devaluation of history rampant throughout our political sphere, but they are a start.
  2. History, fundamentally, is a good thing worth studying. It helps teach us empathy and counter false narratives, like the anti-Semitic, nativist, Islamphobic, blatant falsehoods currently being spewed from the White House of Donald Trump. Or the blatant American exceptionalism of Noam Chomsky, which denies the agency of thousands of nations.
  3. Black History Month celebrates black culture and history, and that too is fundamentally a good thing. To celebrate one’s culture is inherently good; it encourages empathy with a set group, transmits history both good and bad and for those of mixed heritages allows them to reach into and understand all aspects of their past and the world around them. But for a marginalized culture? The affects are not only amplified within that marginalized culture, but help break down the chains of hatred and fear that marginalized them in the first place, both within themselves and within the marginalizing culture. And brother, have black people ever been marginalized.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the flaws and strengths of Black History Month, but it hopefully gives you an idea of why BHM is not the end of our celebration and study of black history, but a platform from which we must expand aggressively.  It is history, our study and understanding of it, that will allow us to thwart the falsehoods and resurrection of Naziism that has come to characterize the Presidency of Donald Trump and his white nationalist allies such as Bannon.

I’ll see you all next week!

Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

Good morning. There are a few things I want to discuss today.

The first is the delay in the next short story. It’s not coming out in January; it will, however, be ready for the end of February/beginning of March.

Secondly, I have the beginnings of a plot for my next novel. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s definitely coming together. Still don’t have a title I like, though.

Thirdly, the work on Uncanny X-Men is likewise coming together. I expect updates to begin again at the end of February. I will keep you updated.

Finally, I want to discuss Donald Trump and his illegal, unethical, immoral and anti-American Muslim ban. Look, I’m not a liberal, feminist or much of anything really; I’m just a Canadian kid trying to make it as an author. But I know my history. And I know that Benjamin Franklin, quoted right there in the title, was absolutely right.

To begin with, Donald Trump’s executive order is both illegal and unconstitutional. Under the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951, of which the United States is a signatory and therefore the treaty is considered federal law, it is forbidden to discriminate against any refugee on the basis of their religion. Further, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act prohibit such discrimination as well. But finally, there is the First Amendment of the American Constitution which states very clearly that the United States Government will not establish or support any religion at the Federal or State level. The United States of America, by both law and constitution, is a secular country.

In addition, the ban violates the provisions of the 1951 Convention that claim that a refugee has the right to their family, and should not be separated.

Secondly, Trump’s order pole vaults over any ethical line. It was not established with due consideration from either the State Department or Justice, and it’s poor wording and vague language have left authorities at the airports stuck with a bad order they can’t enforce. No wonder the lawyers are having a field day with it.

That is not, however, the only ethical violation. None of the seven countries listed in Trump’s ban have actively contributed to anti-American or even anti-Western terrorism. Several other countries, however, such as Saudi Arabia, have. They are not listed in this ban. Why? Because they fill Donald Trump’s already full-pockets with yet more money. This executive order does not do what it claims to do, protect Americans, and is tainted with conflict-of-interest.

Thirdly, the order is deeply, utterly immoral. Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher, tells us that human beings are ends in and of themselves. That they should be treated with all the due respect and dignity of any autonomous agent. This order does not do so; it reduces hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the worst sort of depravity into nothing more than shadowy figures of nightmare; perpetrators of some as yet uncommitted crime. So much for innocent until proven guilty, eh?

But lastly, and most importantly, the order is a deep and ruthless betrayal of everything it has ever meant to be American. Look, I’m Canadian. Like most people outside of the States, I have at best an ambivalent attitude towards your country: you’re arrogant, self-righteous, poorly educated. You dominate any conversation you’re in and never look outside yourselves at the world around you. The only experiences that matter, in history or sociology, are those that happen to the United States of America and to Americans.

But. But you have also been capable of greatness unparalleled. My country has a reputation as peacekeepers and we did indeed invent the UN Peacekeeping force, but those efforts were built on the back of American muscle. Yours was the first Republican experiment in centuries, and you paved the way for other republics and constitutional monarchies to follow. The blood you shed, and even more importantly, your massive industrial and economic power, was vital to stopping the greatest evil that has ever threatened the world. Yours is a country of immigrants who made it; who survived and thrived, who were… all right, not welcomed. Not at first. But who proved to be vital to the weaving of the tapestry that is the United States of America.

This executive order is a rejection of that. It is a rejection of the immigrant story, of the quintessentially American narrative. It is a betrayal of everything you are, of everything you could be.

Benjamin Franklin would never have stood for this.