Today I am making the leap from dialogue in a very popular TV show that ran its last episode the year I was born to African American History Month.
This weekend while trying to recover from a cold I was flipping through the channels and came across an old episode of The Brady Bunch. In the few moments I watched there was a conversation between Marcia and Mrs. Brady. Marcia was having dating issues and Mrs. Brady was trying to connect with her relating that she too had been through similar experiences. Marcia rebuffed the notion stating “Parents just don’t understand our generation, things have changed since you were my age.” To which Mrs. Brady replied, “Only times have changed, sweetheart, people haven’t.” This stood out to me for many reasons.
I think about the study of history as the study of people and their behaviors. History is made by people who are very similar to people today. They make choices based on their needs, wants and desires. People do things that are in their best interest more often than not. We could go into a whole discussion on how human behavior has lead us to where we are today and we continue to see those power grabs play out in modern society, but that is for another day.
The dialogue from Mrs. Brady made me think about the events unfolding around us in America today. We are embroiled in debate of a Muslim Ban, building the “Great Wall” yes the name can be a little confusing as China already has a Great Wall and not to be confused with the movie by the same title. We have “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts.” We are being told by our Commander in Chief that any negative press or polls against him is due to media bias and is “Fake News” All of this has made me reflect on the power grabs from the past. The use of propaganda, control of the media, and steps to paint certain groups as scapegoats for the ills of society. This strategy has been around for centuries, but seems particularly concerning in a Democracy. A government and society that is supposed to have the rights of individual citizens held above reproach and protected against attacks.
Carole Brady’s words about times have changed, but people haven’t is evident in our society in many ways. How does this all connect to African American History month? People's self interest, bigotry, racism, selfishness persists and guides our actions and interactions. So people continue to exhibit these behaviors at times to the detriment of society. While others step up and do what is right. Yet there is still a great need for change to continue both in times and in how people see each other. We have made great strides to make this world a better place, but we still have a long way to go. I see the celebration of African American History as the compilation of so many individuals standing against the status quo, standing against the forces of oppression and taking action for the greater good despite the potential risk to their own safety. History is made up of individuals doing extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.