In 1857, frustrated by the number of informants undermining her efforts along the Underground Railroad, abolitionist Harriet Tubman printed up 500 “Stop Snitching” shirts and distributed them throughout the South.



Black History Month was in danger of being canceled in 1981 before corporations such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola offered sponsorship.



Scientist George Washington Carver invented over 300 uses for the peanut, including peanut soap, peanut paint and peanut massage oil. He died of an undiagnosed peanut allergy in 1943.



Amiri Baraka scared the shit out of white most people.



Aretha Franklin as a new mother in 1957: “No, I will not cover them while breastfeeding! As a matter of fact, I will never cover them again!”



Racist Muppet, Kermit the Frog wrote his hit song, “Being Green,” as a hateful response to James Brown’s “(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud.”



Spoken word poetry was invented in 1972 for use in Black History Month commercials.



Wayne Brady leads a Black Liberation sleeper cell whose members include Michael Steele, Armstrong Williams and Clarence Thomas.



James Brown discovered his signature cry of “Heeeeeey!” after he caught a crook making off with his Cadillac.



The white guy who actually wrote Roots had a heart attack while reading Alex Haley’s version. And another while watching the miniseries.



The Blizzard of ’96 they’re calling it. Every conceivable thing has come to a halt, buried beneath 24 inches of snow.


Capitalism though, is alive and grinding in my heart (sort of) and in the heart of my neighbor Braheem (very much so). We roam middle class Silver Spring, MD with shovels slung over our shoulders, but the getting ain’t good here: $15 to $20 a driveway. There are two of us. Making that kind of money would leave little to split at the end of the day. We cross the highway, headed to upper middle class Chevy Chase where the negotiations start at $50 and can go as high as $100.


I let Braheem negotiate. He’s better at this. He’s cutthroat. Cold-blooded. He tells an elderly woman in our neighborhood her $10 offer isn’t good enough. She is old and sad-faced and alone. I’d shovel her driveway for free. But I don’t do it for free. I remain silent while he tells her our prices. He’s as cold as the snow all around us. When he shrugs, I follow. To do anything else would mean messing with the money. A thing one never does. Everyone from the lunchroom, the school bus and the bus stop is out. Some guys we know are making appointments while their friends shovel. So enterprising. Me and Braheem mock and taunt them. They’d make more money splitting their team apart and competing with one another. Stupid.


Our earnings are a matter of how quickly we can finish each driveway and move onto the next one before our competition. Second or third house in, a housewife, a white lady (I remember as little about her as she probably remembers about me), answers the door. We introduce ourselves and our price. She watches us and says: “I promised the job to two black guys.”


I make to turn when Braheem replies: “Yeah, that was us.”


Do not stop. Do not pass go. Shovel the driveway. Collect $75. Greatest moment in race relations since Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney sang “Ebony & Ivory.


11 ½.

The last fact is a 100% true story. No bullshit.



By this time in a typical Black History Month, two in five Americans have already forgotten that it is Black History Month. While two in five Americans never knew that it was Black History month. The other American knows, but doesn’t care.



After seeing a local blind man’s success with women, a young Stevland Morris in 1961 donned dark shades and began swaying side to side.


13 ½.

Bonus: Back to “Ebony & Ivory,” Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder actually thought this was a good idea.



In 2000, a conscious rapper in crochet pants burned incense and offered a woman salad as a pretext for sex. She thought he was gay.




Interlude, Black History Quote: Carter G. Woodson, Founder of Negro History Week:


“I envisioned in Negro History Week, a time when black folks and shitty spoken word poets could join their white brothers and sisters in McDonalds, Tide and Coca-Cola advertisements.”





Some facts about our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama, who is not only the nation’s first African-American President, but also the first Muslim-socialist-foreign-born-terrorist president:



(15a.) Eric B’s historic 1986 presidential bid paved the way for Obama’s victory on November 4, 2008. (15b.) On November 5, 2008, 9 million blacks were either absent or late for work. (15c.) Incidences of firings of African-Americans for insubordination increased by a startling 200% in the year following Nov. 4, 2008. (15d.) One of Barack Obama’s first acts as president was to develop a plan to enslave white America. All black people know about it, but are sworn to secrecy. (15e.) Little known fact: Since Nov 5, 2008 it’s been illegal to give a speech to a predominantly black group without twice mentioning Barack Obama.



The future of civil disobedience was forever changed in 1960 when the Reverend Al Sharpton chased his first ambulance.



In the year of our Lord 33 AD, Black Jesus began his famous 40 day, 40 night fast in the wilderness. This feat is often credited to White Jesus.



Each year Blacks contribute 33 million dollars to the hand lotion industry in celebration of Ash Wednesday.



O.J. did it.



Did you know that the Rutgers women’s basketball team celebrates victories by sleeping with lots of guys and neglecting to comb their hair?



In 2005, rapper and political activist Flavor Flav took a brave stance against dignity.



Malcolm 2X left the Nation of Islam in 1954 after screaming, “For the last time, we are two entirely different people!”



This day in [pick a year], poet Maya Angelou said something ponderous in a grandiose tone of voice.



Bob Johnson founded BET in 1979 as a place where “black people would be uplifted by the great gyrating asses of black women.”



It took a few years of pleading from fans, but in 1992, Philadelphia rap group, The Froots wisely dropped the “F” from its name.



In 2004, Janet Jackson exposed her left breast during the Superbowl halftime show. After years of settling for imagining it, men everywhere rejoiced and called for exposure of the right one. Aretha Franklin’s official response: “That ain’t nothing, honey. Come to one of my shows.”



Black Peanuts character Franklin was dropped from the strip in 1977 after calling Charlie Brown a cracker.



Because he usually didn’t have to work the next day, Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. often spent the night before his birthday dancing to raunchy, violent music at nightclubs and, most times, the night ended when King drunkenly began to brawl with other club patrons.



KRS-1′s nose released its first solo album in 1989.



Following the first season the groundbreaking sitcom, A Different World, 4 million people applied to fictional Hillman College. None of these people ever made it to a real school.


This piece originally was published on the PANK Magazine blog.

Submit a comment