Tips for Understanding Black History Month- 2021 Edition

It’s that time of year again, Black History Month. Dedicated to the ones who survived 2020, and the ones who didn’t. Let’s do it. With tentacles.

Art: Poster for Lovecraft Country (HBO)

Every February in the United States, the country sets aside 28 (or 29 in a leap year) days to celebrate, discuss and engage Black History. Innocuous enough. And yet Feb. 1st seems to signal the beginning of a 28-day long ritual of whining. How come they get their own month? What about White History Month? It’s a cornucopia of misconceptions and endless micro-aggressive racial faux-pas.

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There’s a scene in Steven Spielberg’s 2006 film Munich, where the Israeli assassination team sent to seek vengeance for the slaying of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, end up at a safe house in Athens where they unexpectedly run into a set of Palestinian radicals. Changing their identities, the Israeli assassins name themselves radicals as well–taking false identities ranging from a Basque liberation group to an anti-apartheid freedom fighter from South Africa. Though the scene, like much of the movie, is more fiction than history, it did spark a thought. There was this era radicalism in the 1960s through the early 1970s that had global reach and interconnectedness. With the fall of the old colonial empires, struggles to knit together new states and domestic social movements, many people sought to radically change their societies or rebelled against it outright–through protest, confrontations with authority or by any means necessary. Many of these radicals not only knew of each other’s existence, but also promoted far-flung causes as relatable to their own–so it wasn’t abnormal to see Black Power advocate Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) making impassioned speeches to a packed groups of Swedish students, or have Malcolm X and Fidel Castro meeting in a hotel room in Harlem. So, I got to thinking. With the many spinoff genres of cyberpunk (steampunk, dieselpunk, atomicpunk, etc) delving into alternate histories and societies shaped heavily by some technological advancement, what about something similar but shaped instead by ideologies and politics? What about a world where this radical fervor never died away, but grew stronger, defining the world as we know it? How about some Revolutionpunk!

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