I’m up bright and early to spend a nice, wholesome day at the library. By “nice, wholesome day,” I maybe also mean I’m too broke to go anywhere or interact with people, and it’s too hot to be at the park.
I make my way over to the genealogy and local history section because I’m trying to create a family tree. Spoiler alert: Do not let those genealogy website commercials fool you. It is near impossible to find information on African Americans once you go back a few generations. You will be left empty-handed while smiling white people uncover land they didn’t know they owned and family photographs from the 1800s. But I digress.
I’m scanning over some book titles (oh, another one about tracing your family history through European immigration records) thinking it must be so nice to be acknowledged and documented like a human being.
On display atop the low bookshelf are some old yearbooks, and I start flipping through them because who doesn’t like looking at people’s outfits from way back when? Then this gem, purposely on display for the world to see, catches my eye:
It’s not the original yearbook, but a reprint that includes the graduating class’ most recent reunion. To be clear, a reprint is not something that happened in the past and cannot be changed, but rather, something that happened in the past that we remember fondly, want to bring up again, and choose to put on display for everyone to see.
The book includes typical old yearbook things such as hilarious cheerleading uniforms and pages glorifying the sports teams. But surely no high school is complete without the arts!
Not to worry. The drama department has plenty of coverage!
Did something catch your attention? Look a little closer.
Only about a hundred questions and comments zoom around my skull, but the first one is, “Da F%@# is a Showboat Minstrel?!”
Ah, but thankfully, the graduate compiling the reprint was so thorough in capturing all the delightful shenanigans of their high school days that a second page was included.
Oh wow, so much clarity now. The Showboat Minstrels was their senior play, and the compiler wants fellow graduates to reminisce about the good ol’ days with cute conversation starters such as, “Who played whom?”
Such great memories! What a treat to share with the grandkids! While the past is unchangeable, I’m sure that my smiling face in these pictures and my smiling face now are communicating the right message about minstrel shows!
I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous and put words in anyone’s mouth, so I made sure to read the entire reprint.
Oh boy! A summary of the play from the graduates!
Throughout, there is the running theme of love for home and family. Perhaps this is one of the last generations to exemplify the virtues this nation was built upon—personal responsibility, a sense of commitment, the belief in the value of work, and loyalty to home and country.
There it is: “one of last generations to exemplify the virtues this nation was built upon…”
And that’s when white supremacy ruined the library.