The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 5, 1993- Page 5
AJRock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
OIhe bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on mhe,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
IA River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and ! will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearnir' , to respond to
.The singing River and he wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveler, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
*Other seekers - desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
Iam the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
0, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours - your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and iffaced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
*Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
*Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
*No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
With hope -
40- Mava 4A
Several years ago, when I was a high
school student in Ann Arbor, I attended the
University's "Martin Luther King/Cisar
Chdvez/Rosa Parks Spring Visitation Pro-
gram" - a recruitment program designed
to increase enrollment of students of color
I spent the afternoon listening to Univer-
sity students' discussions about events and
individuals they felt were important to the
development of modern culture. They spoke
of Black leaders and intellectuals, artists
and politicians. And I knew none of them,
except Dr. King.
Ifelt left out of the discussion. I blamed
my lack of knowledge on the educational
system and let my mind wander.
What Ididn't realize then - but do now
-is that Ihad been socialized to be indiffer-
ent towards a major portion of history. In
the eyes of the University, I am a student of
color. My presence on campus is supposed
to increase diversity and foster racial dis-
course at the University. However, I can
only make surface contributions to the ideal
of a community that internalizes universal
The next day, when Ireturned to my high
school, I was still bothered by the reality of
Luckyforme, it was Black HistoryMonth.
The school!attended had pictures of "con-
tributing" Blacks everywhere. History was
mine for the taking.
Until March 1.
Four years later, feelings about Black
History Month span the entire spectrum of
opinion. No individual ideology is correct
- politically or inherently. University stu-
dents, faculty and staff - and members of
the larger community - all present differ-
ent views regarding this month-long obser-
However, there is a virtual consensus
that the purpose of Black History Month is
to celebrate the achievements of Blacks in
American history. Beyond that, we can only
draw our own conclusions.
For some people, February is nothing
more than the shortest month of the year.
An Ann Arbor resident who wished to
remain anonymous said, "Black History
Month doesn't mean anything to me. I don't
get any days off work or go to any celebra-
tions or anything."
Rory Mueller, an associate administra-
tor in the University's Office of Student
Affairs, expressed similar sentiments.
"I'm not even sure what Black History
Month is. I didn'trecall that it was in Febru-
ary," Mueller said.
Many people in the University commu-
nity, however, blame this apathy toward
Black history for many of today's societal
And while the University lists preparing
students to operate in an increasingly
multicultural society among its primary
goals, many students have not developed an
understanding of racial sensitivity.
"People still think of Black History
Month as an extra. People that aren't Afri-
can American don't feel they need to attend
events. African American history and Afri-
can Americanevents are still not considered
in the mainstream at this University," said
Tom Fujita, a Rackham student.
Many students made statements sup-
porting Fujita's observation. Responses
ranged from the unsure question-answer :
"It's nothurting anyone to have it, so it's got
to be helping, right?" to the completely
ignorant: "I didn't know it was nationwide,
but it came along with Martin Luther King
Day on thesameday. They wantpeople who
are Black to think about theirculture. All the
problems arise because there's a lack of
understanding of differences" said Richard
to keep the enthusiasm going for Black
history. It's like any ethnic celebration. It's
a unity between blacks," said Viviane
Younan, an LSA sophomore LSA.
One student said he was quite upset
about the amount of attention Black History
Month receives. "Most non-Black students
could care less about Black History Month
and quite a few wish that it never existed,"
said L. Kenyatta Spence, a Rackham stu-
Although no students were willing to
admit to this opinion, many students ac-
knowledged that this type of attitude exists
oncampus. Every person's perspective must
be considered against the backdrop of his-
tory that fostered its growth.
In 1926, historian Carter Woodson be-
gan Negro History Week to observe the past
achievements and current status of Black
Americans. He chose February because it
contains the birthdays of Frederick Douglass
(Feb. 14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12).
However, the history of Black History Month
has virtually disappeared from contempo-
The ignorance about Black History
Month fosters various schools of thought
regarding the state the observance today.
One such belief is that Black History Month
has become an excuse for the non-Black
communities to avoid celebration and ob-
servance throughout the year.
"I feel that Black History Month is an
insult to Black people in America. One
month, and the shortest month of the year at
that, is not enough to tell or inform America
of the great accomplishments and the tre-
mendous history of African-Americans,"
Ibiyomi Jegede, an LSA non-degree stu-
University student Jamal Young added,
"When you question the validity of some-
thing, you have posed the alternative of
eliminating that something ... The absence
of Black History Month does not mean that
these institutions that steward or Lord over
Black people will realize the error of their
ways and begin to develop, encourage, and
subsidize liberating information for Arikan
The theory that Black History Month is
an excuse to avoid discussion of Black con-
tributions throughout the year is not exclu-
sive to this campus.
Iris Outlaw, director of the Office of
Minority Affairs at the University of Notre
Dane, expressed similar strong feelings.
"Yes, Black History Month is an excuse.
Who is it that is telling us to celebrate it and
when to celebrate it? It's ridiculous to me
that the celebration stops," Outlaw said.
Another common belief is that Black
History Month is observed to increase aware-
ness and to encourage the education of all
Damon Gupton, a University School of
Musicjunior, said, "Black HistoryMonth is
a time of enlightenment. There is too much
worthwhile knowledge omitted from the
often biased, simplified, and boring lecture
halls and textbooks. It should be an eye-
opening process - one that inspires more
and more people to open their minds and
broaden their horizons."
Gupton raises a widely debated issue,
which has recently arisen in schools across
the country: curriculum. There is an agree-
ment among educators that a balanced edu-
cation - one that presents as many sides of
any issue as possible - better prepares
students to function in society as adults.
However, it was not until 1989 that schools
in California and New York, the two tradi-
tionally decisive states on education, imple-
mented a truly multicultural curriculum.
Last September, the Ann Arbor Public
three years of working toward a curriculum
woven into each chapter, not tacked on to
the end or excluded, as was previously the
Beyond the new book, the Ann Arbor
Public Schools is developing a "people re-
source" to provide culturally relevant en-
richment to the classrooms, said Betty
McDonald, a member of the Multicultural
Committee of the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
In addition to their inclusive education,
today's kids are much different from their
elders. CorinnaWeber, aproduceratWKBD
channel 50, said: "The kids do not feel the
same way we did. They're more open to
discussions and differences in cultures."
But have the current advances gone far
enough? Does the present curriculum suffi-
ciently provide the knowledge of other cul-
tures which we all need?
Balance in the curriculum is a concern of
many. Jesse Hargrove, assistant dean for
African Americans at the University of Ari-
zona, said he believes there is much more
work to be done.
"There are kids with high school diplo-
mas without ever having taken a course in
African American studies. That's not a bal-
anced education," Hargrove said.
John Matlock, directorof the University's
Office of Minority Affairs, said, "There's a
richness in the contributions of women and
ethnic groups and I want them in (the cur-
riculum) because those individuals made
significant contributions, not because they
are needed to balance the curriculum. If you
don't leave here with a respect, understand-
ing, and appreciation of the different cul-
tures of this country and this world, then
you've missed a big chunk of your educa-
Administrators are not the only persons
wanting to see a more inclusive curriculum
on campuses. Students and staff also ex-
pressed this concern.
"It is as if white America is telling us that
we are unworthy of substantial (much over-
due) space in the curriculum. It is a way to
quiet down the years of struggling for Civil
Rights," said Jegede.
-If kids learn about Colombus, they also
need to learn about Hannibal," said Karen
McRae, executive director of the Associa-
tion for the Study of Afro-American Life
and History - a group that Woodson cre-
ated in 1915.
'They teach about Hitler, why not about
Malcolm X?" said WayneNapier, aUniver-
There is a recurring theme in each of
these statements. Although the curriculum
is a concern, it appears that more attention
needs to be directed towards the distinction
between history thatis spoon-fed to students
and history which forces students to evalu-
ate many different views and draw their own
"We definitely need a heavy emphasis
on history, and not just the his -story in
America. Maybe there needs to be a dias-
pora discussion; there are African descen-
dants in other places too," said Lawrence
Beasley, a University student.
So, whose history should we discuss
given that there is no monolithic African
American or Black community?
Obviously, there is no one correct an-
swerhere. We can only work from aconsen-
sus of facts that includes bias. But, as Robin
Kelley, associate prof. of history and Afri-
can American studies said, "What 'our'
history is can't be assumed to be obvious.
It's contested; it has to be contested, or our
wholepublic memoryof the African Ameri-
can past will forever be distorted."
I made a significant effort not to label
any one comment with the connotations of
being a "Black"or "white"-or any other
specific ethnicity - comment. I do this be-
Three years ago, the
University decided to deputize
a police force even though
students were not in favor of
it. Thousands of people
protested the administration
and some even staged a
Fleming Building sit-in.
ever, the Josh
Last February, when the
University decided to take
control of the deputized forces
- again without meaningful
consultation with students -
hundreds more people rallied
against the administration's
Once again, the students
Last week, members of
MSA sponsored a rally
protesting the University's
proposed new Diag policy.
The policy, which the
administration passed with
only limited student input,_
severely hinders students'
rights to demonstrate and
protest on the Diag.
However, only a smattering
of people showed up at the
Wednesday, there was
another midday protest of the
policy. This time, an estimated
75 people participated. The
ralliers chalked the First
Amendment and other slogans
on the Diag to show their
opposition to the policy.
This opposition has done
little to change the
administration's heart. This is
no different from the protests
of deputization or the code.
The University passes a
policy which affects students,
the University does not consult
with students until after the
policy is written, students
protest the policy, the regents
pass the policy disregarding
the students' opposition.
The regents and
administration are running a
university for themselves.
James Duderstadt does not
want student protests on the
Diag. James Duderstadt does
not want Hash Bash on the
Diag. Therefore, these events
won't happen on the
It's as if the Fleming
Building is on an island
isolated from the rest of
campus. The people in the
Fleming Building think they
are the integral part of the
University. They could run a
university without professors,
they could easily run a
university without students
(and that would eliminate
many of the problems those
pesky kids cause), but there is
no way the University could
exist without them.
The only link between
students and the
administration is Mapreen
Hartford. She is the person the
administration sends to MSA
meetings to tell students about
the policy. She is the
administrator who hears
students' complaints about the
administration. She tells the
students she understands their
She goes back to the
tells them about the students'
complaints but nothing is
accomplished. The policy goes
on with little or no change.
Whatever change does occur is
usually minor, and does not
alter the intent of the policy.
Whether students need
three or seven days advance
nnir to n r nnrnpa i