April showers, May flowers.
That was certainly the case in this part of California. Elsewhere had even more bizarre weather highlights and lowlights. Chronic rain in Southern California in April! Who woulda thunk it?
Now, May is the Janus-faced month, as said in this column before. [Janus was the double-faced god of Roman mythology, each face looking in a different direction–at both the future and the past.] On the one hand, it is clearly a festive, love-laden period, intertwined with May Day (May 1), as originally celebrated by the Romans, Greeks and Celts (under various other names) as a huge party and love potion to the new springtime blossoms, warm weather and freedom.
However, socialists everywhere, and other labor activists speaking many different languages, annually thrust their fists in the air, sing militant songs of struggle and triumph, and march through streets, villages, shopping centers and universities in honor of working people everywhere. May Day is their Labor Day holiday.
May 25 is ALD Day (African Liberation Day) for African Americans and other members of the African Diaspora. We celebrate it with speakers, panel discussions, teach-ins, old school video-watching parties, and serious discussions about how we are still committed to radical social-political change in the hostile circumstances of being Black and devalued in America and the world.
It is also All Africa Day, the only current African continent-wide (and even worldwide) holiday for all African people.
In 1963, the newly formed Organization of African Unity established May 25 as African Freedom Day, to celebrate the recent independence of 32 former colonies. In the early 1970s that formal name was changed by community activists to African Liberation Day, and is now celebrated globally under that title.
All Africa Day (aka, Africa Day), also on May 25, is the African Union’s new official holiday (the AU is the organization that replaced the OAU in 2001) to help to convince the African continent to become one federated country–the United States of Africa or Union of African States.
The old official name–African Freedom Day–has just evolved to the new formal name, All Africa Day, as designated by Africa’s singular official body. ALD remains the informal, unofficial acronym for All Africa Day.
This year, as a special feature on May 25, the Global African Diaspora Summit Day meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, to further anoint the idea of the African Diaspora becoming a voting participant in the African Union.
May brings us Memorial Day, May 31, (originally Decoration Day)–the preeminent celebration of loyalty and courage in America’s Civil War. In between May Day and Memorial Day, there is also Cinco de Mayo and the always beloved Mother’s Day. May hosts more than 25 distinctive political observances, including the annual Malcolm X birthday gala and festival–there’s also another Malcolm X festival held annually in April–held in most major urban areas in America.
“For the sporting set, there are the annual professional hockey playoffs, the real step-off of major league baseball (sure, it starts in April, but really only gets going in May), the roundball playoffs (this year both the Lakers and Clippers are still in it, and showing some real heart), etc.
Then there’s the famous day at Churchhill Downs for the Kentucky Derby’s “run for the roses” during the first weekend in May, with its largely unknown history of Black jockeys like Jimmy Winkfield and Isaac Murphy, who dominated the Derby for its first 30 years, only to be replaced by Irish and Anglo riders as the Derby became more commercial and popular.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is in May, along with the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, the Public Service Recognition Week, the National Teacher’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Month, National Historic Preservation Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and American Armed Forces Day.”
As mentioned previously, May is the birthday month of such luminaries as Socrates and Karl Marx, Willie Mays and Biggie Smalls, Ho Chi Minh and John F. Kennedy, the Ayatollah Khomeini and James Brown, John Wayne and Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis and Patti Labelle, Bob Dylan and Jim Jones, to name just a few.
Stopping here would be easy, I guess, but one is strongly tempted to also give May another name, in keeping with its Janus nature as manipulative malevolence month. Listening to the Republicans now try to make sense out of nonsense and basically just lie with straight faces is pretty malevolent, when you think about it. Rachel Maddow’s recent complaint that otherwise sensible people that many Republicans are can calmly look at hard facts and simply blink them away, not only denying there is a problem, but denying the evidence of the reality of the issues that create the problem.
The case in point was Maddow’s description of the continuing crisis of unequal pay between women and men in spite of the Lillie Ledbetter Act. She based her perspective on independent evidence from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, etc., all of which had shown that out of 265 standard jobs in America, men regularly made one dollar for every seventy-seven cents for women. That pattern repeated for 264 out of the 265 job categories.
Three Republicans on the same panel with her, including two women, said those facts were wrong, men did not make more than women in America, so that could not be a problem to solve.
Evidence? They didn’t need any; they just knew better than that.
As stunning as that was, then Paul Ryan, the reigning Republican budget king, said he does not believe in the philosophy and point of view of the celebrated writer Ayn Rand, after giving a major speech several days before at an Ayn Rand Club where he said Ayn Rand was his shero, mentor and philosophical guide.
At times like these in May, we need more Yogi Berra-isms: “Don’t believe what I say, because it may not be me who said it.”
Hmm. Malevolent manipulative May, indeed. This is going to be a rocky road.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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