The Black History of the White House and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

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Yep, it’s a book AND holiday movie review. One is reality and one is folklore, something that we do well. Actually, I am going to mostly rave about the book and wax nostalgic about Rudolph.  It has taken me two months (count em) to finish this book. The Black History of the White House by  Dr.Clarence Lusane should be required reading for every history class in America, and beyond. It is astounding in scope and I learned far more than I ever dreamed. I am still processing it all. It is a book that I will purchase and read again. I would love to do an in-depth book study of this. The discussions!

Many fairy tales I learned in American history class were blown out of the water in the face of the realities written in this book. African American slaves built the White House and most of the government buildings in Washington D.C., not to mention the city itself. The plantation owners who provided this slave labor were paid, but of course the slaves were not, which isn’t surprising but the fact there was no record of their names and contributions was. Some of the greatest architecture and workmanship in our nation’s history was done by slaves that were invisible and nameless. Our first president owned many slaves but it was downplayed politically. I am ashamed to say I knew very little of the legacy that unfolds here. It’s a case of white-folk denial syndrome. Shame on us!

This book is an amazing testament to the talent, intellect, workmanship and culture  African Americans sacrificed for our country’s capital, decades and decades before they would even be invited to dine there!  I admired this book from beginning to end and am changed forever by it’s content. The author also has an impressive three page narrative of accomplishments and credits in the back of this book.  He does an outstanding job of interweaving facts and political realities from the birth of our country up to our current President Obama. It’s unflinchingly honest and brilliant.

I wish I could say the same for J.K. Rowling‘s new book The Casual Vacancy. I wanted to like this, after all this is the author of the best kids book of all time, but I couldn’t. I frankly thought it was awful, and barely finished it. I wanted to quit numerous times. Too many characters, dumb story, bleak, brutal, depressing. I am a big fan of British authors and read a lot of them but this left me with the question “What’s the POINT of this”?!  I’m glad I won this copy and didn’t have to pay for it, I won’t be keeping this one. What the hay…look what priceless legacy she has gifted us with. I forgive her.

I was a child when Rankin-Bass produced the stop-motion animated t.v. special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1964. I have a vivid memory of lying on the living room floor and being spell bound by a young reindeer who is ashamed of his red nose but ends up saving Christmas,  the aroma of my mom’s Christmas cookies in the background. It is one of those priceless childhood memories, a moment in time that I have never forgotten. My grown children don’t like this movie.

To me it’s sacred. We weren’t yet jaded by technology. They didn’t know what it was like to shiver with excitement and anticipation when they heard what night it would be on, or be mesmerized by it’s special effects and songs. You saw it once and had to wait another year before it would be shared through the wonders of childhood again. Visions of Rudolph danced in my head many nights afterwards and he always got a special cookie all his own Christmas Eve. Enjoy those precious child hood memories!

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2 responses »

  1. Another book to add to my reading list and have located it at my most favourite place – the Vancouver Public Library. And I watch Rudolph every year along with the Grinch. I love December!!

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