BEAST Abridged Guide to Black History
hard to identify all the “black” history amongst all the regular
American history, especially if it’s nighttime—all you can
see is teeth and eyes. The very notion that “black” history
occupies a separate—but unequal—space in our national consciousness
exemplifies the institutionalized racism in our society. By setting aside
the coldest and shortest month of the year to “celebrate diversity,”
and talk about the advent of peanut butter, we do a disservice to history
In a society obsessed—for good reason—with
race, we approach the subject with cowardice and shame, if at all. Our
national conversation pertaining to race is, well, um, skin-deep, and
in the media, boils down to semantic controversies. For this reason, The
BEAST has compiled the following list of lesser-known “black”
American history. Enjoy!
1619: The first ship carrying approximately
20 African slaves docked for trade in Jamestown, Virginia, creating a
general disregard for sailing in the African American community, which
continues to this day; the new found slaves begin cultivating a fondness
for menthols and hot sauce—and millions of tons of cotton.
1625: Blacks invent “soul.”
1712: The New York Slave Revolt. 23
blacks and 9 honkies set fire to a building near the city’s center.
27 slaves were captured and killed for the fiery insurrection, reinforcing
the stereotype that white people aren’t very good at counting, but
their killing skills are unparalleled.
1739: South Carolina slaves meet at
the Stono River and march for freedom toward Spanish Florida, burning
plantations, freeing other slaves, gathering munitions and killing whitey
along the way. Eventually, the rebellion is quashed, the slaves are decapitated
and their head placed on pikes.
1742: “Reading Rainbow’s”
Levar Burton is taken prisoner aboard the slave ship USS Enterprise and
forced to adopt the name Toby Laforge, according to Alex Haley.
1789: George Washington becomes the
first American president of African descent. With false teeth constructed
from ivory, and held together with gold wiring, Washington was also the
first guy to sport an “icy grill.”
1822: The American Colonization Society
literally sets about bringing freed slaves back to Africa, where they
establish the country of Liberia. In the ultimate irony, today, many Liberian
descendants of American blacks work in slave-like conditions on Firestone-owned
rubber plantations. There’s nothing funny about this.
1840: Amistad slave ship revolt is directed
by Steven Spielberg.
1849: Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery
and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground
1850: General Motors buys out the Underground
Railroad and closes it down, bribing congress into building the Underground
1857:The Dred Scott case holds that
Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore,
that slaves are not citizens.
1861: The south secedes and the confederacy
is born. The event is memorialized in custom paint jobs on muscle cars
to this day.
1863: President Lincoln issues the emancipation
proclamation, declaring that all slaves would henceforth be free. It only
took a century to enforce!
1865: The Ku Klux Klan is formed, in
a scam perpetrated by the white sheet industry.
1879: The Black Exodus takes place,
in which tens of thousands of African Americans migrated from southern
states to Kansas. Kansas laughs nervously and draws curtains.
1911: Al Jolson becomes first man of
color to break through the Vaudeville Ceiling.
1920: The Harlem Renaissance flourishes
in the 1920s and 1930s. This literary, artistic, and intellectual movement
fosters a new black cultural identity, and makes stunning advances in
the development of flamboyant hats.
1922: Douglas Johnson becomes the first
black man to be ignored by a horseless cab driver.
1923: Johnson continues innovating,
becoming the first black man to yell at a movie screen. Scholars vary
in their reportage of this milestone, but all agree he said something
along the lines of, “I wouldn’t go in there!”
1937: Bill Cosby is born.
1947: Jackie Robinson begins the process
of taking over professional sports. White athletes find some protection
in their ability to afford ice skates.
1955: Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing
to give up her bus seat to a white man. Seriously, what a dick that guy
must have been, right?
1963: Bill Cosby releases his debut
comedy album, Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow, Right! including
the groundbreaking “Noah” bit. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes
“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” advocating non-violent civil
disobedience. While Cosby’s routines become classics of comedy,
non-violence proves to be a passing fad.
1964: President Johnson signs the Civil
Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination. A 3-year-old Barack Obama
is troubled by this slight against Dr. King’s legacy.
1965: Bill Cosby’s debut in interracial
espionage show “I Spy,” triggering passage of the Voting Rights
Act. However, Malcolm X is assassinated.
1966: Shamicka Jones becomes the first
black woman to have a weird, made up name.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. dies in
an act of violent resistance.
1969: Cosby launches “The Bill
Cosby Show,” a situation comedy that aired for only two years, due
mainly to racism among Nielsen families. Clearly, the nation is not yet
ready for Cosby.
1972: “Fat Albert & the Cosby
Kids” debuts and achieves major success, finally ending the horrific
Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
1975: Black people officially begin
to feel self-conscious when eating watermelon.
1979: CIA introduces crack into the
black community, because assassinating black leaders and shutting down
Black Panther free breakfast programs for children just wasn’t twisted
1984: The dream comes true: “The
Cosby Show” debuts, soon becoming the highest rated show in primetime.
1987: In a setback for race relations,
Cosby stars in Leonard Part 6.
1990: Spinning hubcaps are invented
by David Fowlkes, Jr., but are suppressed by the forces of inequality
for another decade.
1992: “The Cosby Show” goes
off the air; Race riots break out in Los Angeles.
1994: Cosby continues to stumble with
“The Cosby Mysteries,” but strikes another blow against the
powers of hate with “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.”
1997: The Sprewell rebellion occurs,
when NBA star Latrell Sprewell attacks and chokes Warriors coach P. J.
2007: Cosby enters “cranky old
man” phase with release of Come on People.
2008: Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy
shows America that a black man can be a viable presidential candidate,
as long as he speaks well, is a Democrat and doesn’t refer to his
race. Cosby is pleased.