Patrons & Partnerships

Ep 27: Juneteenth Discussion with Dr. David Canton

June 16, 2022 Library Partnership Branch, Alachua County Library District Season 1 Episode 27
Patrons & Partnerships
Ep 27: Juneteenth Discussion with Dr. David Canton
Show Notes Transcript

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships, presented by the Library Partnership Branch of the Alachua County Library District.

Our guest today is Dr. David Canton, Director of the African American Studies program and Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida. In this special Juneteenth episode, we discuss the history and meaning of the holiday, and the importance of humanities in society.

Visit the Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom page for a complete list of the Library District’s Juneteenth programs.

Visit the Alachua County Library District website to browse our collection and to find other resources and services offered at your favorite, local library!

You can view a transcript of this podcast on ACLD's YouTube Channel.

[music]

Tina:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Patrons & Partnerships. Today, our guest is Dr. David Canton, the Director of African American Studies program, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida. Welcome. And if you don't mind, please, further the introduction for us.

Dr. Canton:

Alright, good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here. Yes, my name is Dr. David Canton, and I'm originally from the Bronx, New York. I received my BA in History from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, my Master's in Black Studies from the Ohio State University and my PhD in Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is my second year at the University of Florida, two years living in Gainesville. I teach a course on history of hip-hop, I do a course on the civil rights movement in the South, and also one on the civil rights movement in the North. So it's a pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Tina:

Thank you. Um - just out of curiosity, how long did it take you to get through school?

Dr. Canton:

Let’s see, I received my BA in ‘91. I got my PhD in 2001. So 10 years with I think a nine month break. So yeah, about 10 years.

Tina:

Oh! Very focused.

Dr. Canton:

That's it, right. My thing is, get it in when you're young, you have energy, you can stay up late at night. And that's what I did. And now I'm here today.

Tina:

So what brought you, what interested you in African American Studies?

Dr. Canton:

That's a great question. So growing up in my house it was my father. My father was from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, my mother's from Anguilla. And my dad, what I call, developed a racial consciousness. In St. Thomas, a lot of African American sailors would come in to the island, where he was introduced to like Black periodicals like Jet, Ebony Magazine, Pittsburgh Courier Black newspaper, so he really developed a racial consciousness. In fact, when Emmett Till was, was lynched, was murdered, he was 15 years old and remembers that Jet magazine, 1955. So when I was in high school, I was always good at social studies, current events. I got that from him, you know, just, you know, the news, politics, sports, talk radio. I would read The New York Times, and actually there was a Black newspaper, he always brought home both. I forgot - I can't think of one right now. But those two, we read a lot. But when I went to college, I thought I was gonna be a medical doctor. You know, for a lot of first gen students of color, right, you’ll be a doctor, you make a lot of money, it's noble. I'm gonna go donate time in the community, you know, give out some injections, pass out some band-aids. It's a win-win. But the reality is, that wasn't my passion. So I was a biology major for four years and I just struggled. But I was always good at like, humanities, social sciences, sociology, history - those courses were easy to me. But the math and the science courses, I just struggled, I didn’t have the passion. So eventually, my fifth year of college, my wife - who I met at Spelman College - why don’t you major in history? And I'm like, What can I do with a history degree? Which most students unfortunately say. I knew you can be a teacher, and again, not knocking that profession, but I definitely know from my high school experience in the Bronx, I don't know if I want to do that for 30 years. And then you can do - outside of teaching, that’s all I knew. So finally, when I was at Morehouse, I met a professor, Dr. Joseph Windham, who passed about 10 years ago. He had just received his PhD from Howard University. And it was - this was back when they had to write it, they mailed it to him, and I - and he showed me the document I said, Wow, did you write that? He was like a younger guy. 37, kinda cool, played basketball, just didn’t look like your average professor. So we developed some sort of mentor relationship. He said, David, why don’t you get your Master’s at Ohio State? First of all, I'm like, what? What’s a Master’s? What are you talking about? It's a one-year program. Then after that, once I got into history, I was hooked. Because now, it wasn't like work. It was a passion - reading books, talking about ideas, going to conferences. And that's really what got me here. And, you know, I was gonna know everything about people of African descent throughout the world, and you realize that's insulting, you know, one person can't know all that information. But it's definitely been a passion of mine ever since then. And like I said, before, you know, when I became a history major, the rest became history, no pun intended.

Tina:

It's interesting you talked about the - you know, people's reaction to your interest in studying history. I had the same thing. I also studied history in undergraduate school,

and someone said the exact same thing to me:

What are you going to do with a history degree? So I appreciate that it's, it's something that everyone experiences and it is, I think, if you study history, it is a passion.

Dr. Canton:

Right. Right. And I tell students whatever you study, you know, and the thing about a liberal arts degree - and people get it confused - it's the skills, you know, I think oftentimes we put so much emphasis on the STEM the STEM, the STEM, so much emphasis. High schools, programs, grants, research, you know, even TAs get paid more on the STEM side. you know, even TAs get paid more on the STEM side. We overvalue STEM and undervalue the humanities. And that's why you have all these students, they'll start at UF in the STEM, two years, I get an email, Dear Dr. Canton, I took this class and boom, the passion hits. But again, I understand, because parents are nervous. When you say these humanities disciplines, they get nervous. You're gonna be broke, you got all this debt, you're gonna be in my basement, get a STEM degree or something you can fall back on, it’s the STEM. But they're not enjoying those courses, literally don't enjoy it. And it's not about aptitude. Some people just don't enjoy it. I just don't like computer programming. I'm just not interested. Doesn't mean you're a bad human being. But you're interested in the humanities and the skills - critical thinking, reading, working in groups. These are transferable skills. And I tell students all the time when you go for a job interview, I've heard they don’t even look at your transcripts anymore. What experiences can you share? Have you developed a podcast? What type of experience - have you traveled? That's what they're looking for. They're not going to ask you about Black Reconstruction because they don't know about it. They're not going to ask you about the content from American history in 1905 because they don't know. When you cash in on that information, I call small talk. So if you go to a job interview, and you see Du Bois’ book on the desk hey, I read that in college! You read that too? That's where it cashes in. But most of the time they're looking for experiences and skills. Where have you interned? They're not going to ask you specifically about the works in your major. So I try to when I advise students, I try to emphasize that. And I always go to like these career workshops. I always try to pay attention so my majors can have the updated information, that they made the right decision, that they made the right decision, and this is what employers are looking for. They're not going to ask you about Ida B. Wells. They don't know about her. But if you see Ida B. Wells in their office, you should comment on it.

Tina:

Mhmm. That's good advice. Well, today, we're here to talk a little bit about Juneteenth. This is the first year that Juneteenth is being celebrated as a national holiday, a federal holiday, and I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about how we got to this point.

Dr. Canton:

All right. That's a great question. So as a historian, you know I'm gonna go back. So I think we have to start with the Emancipation Proclamation. And we know when the Civil War first started, many of the early victories were by the Confederate army in the first year or two, up in the, particularly the Virginia area, Battle of Bull Run or Manassas, for those who are really Civil War experts. I'm 20th century. But nevertheless, what Lincoln needed was a victory. And they had it in September 22, 1862, the Battle of Antietam, which is in Maryland, and that's when he unleashed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Now, even before that, you had people like Frederick Douglass, who was getting access to the White House. Keep in mind that throughout this whole period is, people of African descent who are running away, organizing, protesting, using self-defense, whatever means necessary for freedom. So I always try to emphasize to students, when you look at African American history, you’ve got to look at the agency. Right? We like to look at it top down, that somehow the federal government woke up, had a change of heart. Oh, I'm sorry, we should free Black people! No, it’s that pressure from African Americans, right, with white allies. But again, white allies aren't a majority. So that's another myth we like to believe, right? That white abolitionists were a majority. No, they weren't. Right? It's like most systems, most people are indifferent or inactive. But nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation, he read it. That took effect January 1, 1863. But let's get this clear. It did not end slavery.

I'm gonna say it one more time:

The Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery. What ended slavery in this country was the 13th Amendment, which passed December 1865. In fact, Delaware and Kentucky had slavery up until the 13th Amendment, because they were two of the four border states during the Civil War. The other two were Maryland and West Virginia. So again, when the Civil War started, it was a war to save the Union. When the Emancipation Proclamation kicked in, now it's the war to end slavery, which Black people viewed from day one. Because when that war started, if you read Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction, Black folks left. But in our - we can't vision that, right, because in other words, they have what they call the grapevine. That information, there's no social media, but Black people are speaking. Like Black sailors who are going through port towns like New Orleans, and in Charleston, where they're getting information. So once they knew that war started, it's about ending slavery. So many of them took off and just left. Like Du Bois, they went on strike. But the war also allowed Black men to join the army, 185,000 soldiers. It got rid of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that by law empowered white people to capture fugitives to return to the slaveholders. So if you were at a Boston pub drinking, doesn't mean you like Black people, but by law, you had to chase the Black guy down or Black person they thought was enslaved. So again, got rid of the Fugitive Slave Law. And when the war first started, Black people by law had to be returned to the South. So it's a much more complicated picture than we like to believe. But the Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure, and I think people should read it.

I'm going to read a little bit from it to show you what I'm talking about:

"That on the first day of January in the year of Our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of a state, he people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then thenceforward and forever free." In other words, there were parishes in Louisiana, the Union soldiers took over that still allowed slavery. So places that are in rebellion against the United States, they're free. Okay? But areas like the border states, areas that the Union controlled in the South, slavery still existed. Now, Lincoln was anti-slavery, but again, this is politics. You see what I mean? But nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation was a very important document, only 719 words, which should be read by everybody. In fact, another piece, he says, he says, it's “a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.” This is politics, folks. It's not feelings, it's politics. Even Lincoln said himself, I can end this - if I can end slavery in one day, I’d do it. But this is politics.

Then the next, last point, he said:

“And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence” - and he's talking about the free Blacks - “unless in unnecessary self defense.” Okay, so again, remember that during slavery, white people can kill slaves and not be punished. But now you're saying, okay, self-defense is allowed. If you have to protect yourself against slaveholders or white Southerners, do your thing. Very important document. But don't forget the role of Frederick Douglass, Black abolitionists, and enslaved people themselves helping to change the tide of the war.

Tina:

How much distinction was made, based on those facts that you talked about in the Emancipation Proclamation, between a freed slave and someone who was still enslaved? Was that something that was being upheld or enforced in any way?

Dr. Canton:

So again, remember now, we got federalism and state rights. Once he said it, right, for Black people themselves, they're gonna take off and do what they want to do. If you're a slaveholder, that's still your property. So again, how is it being enforced? Now when you brought those federal troops in? That's what's being enforced. We'll get to Juneteenth in a minute. But again, for Black people themselves, the Civil War always was the war to end slavery, non-negotiable. When the war started, April 1861, folks just left and went up to D.C. and had these major refugee camps where they were underfed, many of them worked for the Union and didn't get paid. ou know those refugee camps, they were sick, they weren't well kept. But nevertheless, that agency is real, whether it's Harriet Tubman, who served as a spy for the Union Army because she knew all the back roads. And this is why history is so important, this is why understanding different perspectives, because if not, you'll overlook all these little nuanced stories. But again, the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery. It was the 13th amendment. So if we get anything right, today, please, this becomes a myth that people just believe. So even in my class, at the end of the semester, they'll still put that on the final exam. But it's like- 20 myths in American history, no matter what you say, people still believe those myths, and the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery is a major one.

Tina:

Okay, so now let's go to Texas.

Dr. Canton:

Yes.

Tina:

And see - and what happened there?

Dr. Canton:

Okay. Well, before Texas, since we're in Florida, I gotta shout out Florida. [laughs]

Tina:

Okay, so please do! That was actually one of the staff questions.

Dr. Canton:

Right. So May 20th, 1865. All right. So again, let's get our chronology. So the Civil War ends in April 1865. Four year war, 700,000 deaths. More people died in the Civil War than the total number of deaths in all the wars in American history. So again, Civil War, the fight to end slavery. For some people it’s still The Northern Aggression, states’ rights, but states’ rights to do what? When you look at the documents - and again, that's what historians do, look at the documents - and again, that's what historians do, look at the documents - you see what's the argument. But nevertheless, May 20th, 1865 in Florida, Union Brigadier General Edward M. McCook came down, read the similar thing like the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in Florida. But again, Florida wasn't the last state. It was Texas, right? And we know, if you look at - I’m an NFL fan, we know who's drafted first, and they have a name for the last draftsperson, but those in the middle are those in the middle. But nevertheless, as we see in Gainesville, the journey to Juneteenth is a celebration from May 20 to June 19. But we also see our history is national, state, and local. And it's all about perspective. My parents are from the West Indies. So therefore, I never heard of Juneteenth. I never had soul food until I went to Morehouse College, because Black people are not monolithic. So therefore in Florida, or in this area, May 20th has big meaning. 5/20. But if I go to Jersey, different meaning. So again, that's how history works. It's not that one is better than the other. It's just recognizing, acknowledging that there’s histories. So prior to me coming here, May 20th was May 20th. But now, living in Gainesville the last two years, I understand that. We also see we have states’ rights, or we have local cities like it's a paid holiday in Tallahassee for May 20th. So again, we have the federal government, we have states, we have locals, that's the power of democracy, so people can decide their holidays, what they deem is valuable. And it's not one narrative. But then we get to Texas. Okay? So on June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger, with 2000 federal troops, announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, which is like a port town outside of Texas. General Order #3. Now, by that time, Texas had 250,000 slaves in Texas, one of the westernmost Southern states. Remember, there's no internet, there's no social media. Now, black people in Texas, probably through their own channels, heard about the Emancipation Proclamation. But again, it's hard. Texas, there's no Underground Railroad from Texas to Boston. That's a huge state. And then think about its numbers. 250,000 slaves, how many white people in the state? So very difficult for Black people to take up, get up and walk and get out. Complicated. But nevertheless, people probably heard of the Emancipation Proclamation, but because of demographics, it was difficult in Texas. But nevertheless, on June 19th, General Order #3 was read. So again, it's about agency. Free Black people were not waiting. You know what, you should celebrate this day. No, just like the Nightwatch stories, which we'll get to later, they have their own celebrations, recognizing that this date is important in their history. It's almost like their July 4th. So the first time you have 1866, June 19th, 1866, Jubilee Day. So again, these are local Black people in Houston, in Texas, creating this memories, this this information, right, this sacred day for people of African descent. And that's why Juneteenth is so important. But again, growing up in New York, parents from the West Indies, our school system - forget about it. You just don't hear about it. In New York, we'll celebrate Caribbean Independence Day or the Carnival. Now the problem is in our K-12 system - this is what we’re talking about, this is a whole battle over curriculum, that this information should be known in Iowa, in Michigan, in Detroit, in Pennsylvania. But now because of what happened last year, the federal holiday, now finally people - Juneteenth, people know about it. But again, unfortunately, it took the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor. So again, it's that reactionary posture. But at the same time, there was always Black folks fighting for these recognitions, whether it's - we'll get to later - Dr. King's holiday, Juneteenth, there's always pressure to get these holidays recognized. Because African Americans were always on that forefront of doing that, but it always takes a larger, unfortunate acts of death and murder. Oh, wow, we need to do something now. So we can get all into that in terms of the King holiday and Juneteenth having some very similar histories.

Tina:

Last year, the Library Partnership did, participated in creating a video for our Juneteenth celebration, and one portion of it was talking to a young woman, I believe she was a junior in high school. We asked her the importance of Juneteenth to her and things that she knew about the holiday. And I asked if they - if she and her friends talked about it, if there was any awareness between her peer group. And she mentioned that they are aware of it, but that it's not taught in school, and also because it falls during the summer vacation, it's not part of their day off or you know any of their holidays throughout the school year. How significant do you think it is that now that it's a national holiday that it will bring more awareness to the youth?

Dr. Canton:

That's a great question. So again, it's almost like the Dr. King holiday. Juneteenth is going to require communities like the library or the locals to do things to celebrate the day. There’s so many local events sponsored by local folks because again, school is out. And that's just a reality. I mean, it's the same with UF, faculty is out during the summer. So it just requires planning, organizing events, to bring forth information to young people. Because like I said, school is out, you're not going to - Dear Mrs. So-and-So of social studies. Can you come in today? I'm off the clock. Now, if they want to volunteer their time… But that's why events like this podcast, the Journey to Juneteenth, all these different local events, we just have to make sure you get the word out so students can be engaged. Now, again, let's say we teach Reconstruction, you could bring up Juneteenth in the class, but that's going to be all the way early in the fall semester. You see what I mean? But nevertheless, this is why this requires community organizations, local libraries, to have events throughout the month, which they do here now already, to get more awareness. But definitely you could still at least in your, in your class during the Reconstruction period, mention Juneteenth. But again, requiring teachers who are underpaid already to do something extra in the summer, that's just not gonna happen. So I think that's how we look at it. The interest starts with these programs. When they go back to school in the fall, or you have curriculum meetings, you just find a way to put Juneteenth into the lesson plan.

Tina:

What would you say to the pre-college age youth to encourage a greater understanding of African American History and…

Dr. Canton:

Well, you know, it’s one of those things where, you know, I think history it’s a passion And I think one of those things where there are students who are passionate about history, students over time will determine their passion of history, social studies, current events. So I think - I don't want to sound nostalgic, that when I was a kid, I was reading the news. No, I wasn't. I was watching the Yankees and going to movies. So I think this whole thing about what the young people are not doing, there are plenty of young people who are engaged in these conversations. But the others that might get engaged later, as they mature, get older, right? Until they get to college. So I don't have this doom and gloom take about what young people don't know. Because it assumes that we were young, we knew everything. No, we didn’t. [laughs] Right? So I don't have that approach. Let's have an approach where we could do a better job K-12, putting it out there. And that as they mature, some will take a passion for it. And some, to be honest, like a lot of Americans, unfortunately will not be engaged in African history or American history. And that's the struggle we have now in this country. History is important, but not all Americans are going to love history. If you believe that, that's naive. The same way a lot of Americans, for a math person, don't like math and are proud to say it. I am not good at math. So everyone's not going to be an expert in African American history. But this should still be a foundation, or whatever that means. How does one measure it? I think it's relative, but I think at least a holiday, whether it's Dr. King or Juneteenth, it's a start. But we want to make sure the interpretation - because we don't want Juneteenth watered down. I think, I think Walmart had Juneteenth ice cream. That's how capitalism works. Right? Dr. King, all major corporations love Dr. King, but they don't love radical King. So you want to beware of the co-optation of Juneteenth through capitalism, buying T-shirts and hats. At minimum, if you're going to buy, purchase from Black store owners, but don't allow the definition of Juneteenth to disappear. Resistance to slavery, Black community organization, knowing your history, knowing your culture, don't lose that over buying ice cream from Walmart. They did pull it, but again, am I surprised by it? Of course not. Because that's how capital works. Right? How can we commodify anything? Dr. King, Juneteenth, you name it, we can sell it and commodify it and then move away from the original meaning.

Tina:

You had mentioned Watch Night. Can you talk a little bit more about that and other traditions that can be traced back to Juneteenth or the Emancipation?

Dr. Canton:

Yes, so Watch Night is where, you go to a lot of African American churches on New Year's Eve. So Emancipation Proclamation was in full effect, January 1, 1863. So on December 31st, in 1862, in Black churches around the country, it's where people went to church and waited and counted down for 1/1/63. And that tradition continues in a lot of Black churches, you have Night Watch service. You come in about 10 o'clock. You go until midnight. Again, some are changing, but nevertheless, that's still the foundation. But it starts from the Emancipation Proclamation. Okay, now, some states have Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, you know, in some cities - Milwaukee celebrates Juneteenth. So again, there's national history, there’s state, and there's local. Okay, so again, people decide what they want to commemorate, which, which is a great thing, you know, so again, like I said, here, we have May 20th, 1865, June 19th, 1865. But again, now, in some states you might celebrate, you know, there's some other dates Black folks might celebrate in Ohio, a separate date. But nevertheless, they all lead to the same thing about freedom, about justice, about African American agency. So as a historian, you're always trying to what, what are the connections? What's similar, and what's different, and what's the larger story? So you're not getting into what's - whose - you're not getting into an Olympics. What's better than what, what's more real than what. Those are distractions from the big issue. And I try to engage students on, let's avoid those - you can have some fun, they can joke and all that but it ended up becoming into, what's more authentic, rather than the big picture.

Tina:

Well, do you think that's the significance of having the Juneteenth holiday is that it has its own relevance, but it is also sort of emblematic of all of the other significant occasions that are important to local, state, national…

Dr. Canton:

You can see Juneteenth as like the capstone, in other words, who every state has one of those dates when slavery ended. But because Texas was last, Texas is big, right? It just it’s a capstone of slavery and then in Vermont in 1777. So literally every state you can have some similar type of event, or particularly one where African Americans are in charge, but this is just the capstone, but it's under a big picture of what Emancipation Proclamation, Black soldiers fighting in the war, you know, African American freedom, things of that nature. So I think, don't lose sight of that. But there's no reason why states can't like well Florida’s is May 20, you can do something in South Carolina, do something in North Carolina, not a problem. But I think Juneteenth becomes a capstone, and it gets a national recognition. So that if I'm in Iowa, if I'm in Wyoming, if I'm in you know, in particularly in Northern states where you don't think about slavery, even though there was slavery in Northern states, this at least lets you to think about it. Now, it's hard because it's during the summer. But nevertheless, that shouldn't be an excuse. So I think as we go the next couple years or so keep an eye on ensuring that the message doesn't get co-opted, and that communities continue to do what they do, right? Because again, schools are out. So you can't wait for the local school district. But it's what we see going on in Gainesville, all these local organizations putting a month full of events, which I'm excited, looking forward to attending.

Tina:

Speaking of that, is the African American Studies department planning any activities or events during the week, the month?

Dr. Canton:

Right, now you see that’s the point I just, and so again, so UF, right, faculty are on a 9-month calendar. So technically, we're off. Now, again, that may be in the future on my part as director, looking forward. Maybe we should plan an event, but honestly as faculty we can go to local events. But again, it's been because June 19. Universities are off, for a 9-month faculty off, it's difficult just like getting schoolteachers. But it doesn't mean that faculty will not be out in Gainesville, celebrating doing what I'm doing here with you in the podcast, but maybe down the line, maybe plan an event. But again, because faculty is off, that can get complicated. But again, you can, you know, find some folks who may want to volunteer their time. So that's something for next year I'll consider.

Tina:

Is there anything that anything else that you would like to talk about as far as Juneteenth?

Dr. Canton:

Well, I was mentioned earlier about Juneteenth and the Dr. King holiday some similarities. You know, your last two federal holidays are Dr. King, 1986, and Juneteenth, which is on my birthday June 17, 2021. But both, what they share in common was, in fact, John Conyers, congressman from Michigan, wanted the King holiday after he was assassinated. So it took from 68 to 86. But again it’s because why, people organized, put pressure to get this holiday. We see Juneteenth early in the 80s and 90s. We see in Texas it became a paid holiday in 1980, that these were African Americans, this Congressional Black Caucus and others to get in the push to get this recognized. So you just see, again, that African American history is at the center of this agency. I just think this belief that for a lot of Americans that you know, African Americans are reactionary and waiting, but the reality is you see that agency in both of these holidays, but the flip side is making sure that the message that Dr. King is we saw in his last few years talking about anti-Vietnam, critical capitalism, poverty, and we see with Juneteenth to make sure the message doesn't get lost, once you become nationally recognized the messages gets misinterpreted, right. What is Juneteenth? Freedom of people of African descent allowed to be free to look for family, get a job, work for wages, right, and take advantage of what opportunities they had in this country. That's the message. And then the flip side is we look at in the contemporary, how have systemic oppression continued to prohibit African Americans from doing those things that were promised by the Emancipation Proclamation by Juneteenth. That's the ongoing conversation that should be had when you have these events.

Tina:

So what's next?

Dr. Canton:

Well, what's next is we see, unfortunately, we had what happened in Buffalo, we see what happened outside of San Antonio, now unfortunately, we just have a long way to go. I think, rather than embracing a multiracial democracy, there are many that are still trapped in a past that never really existed, whether it's how families, what's a nuclear family, whether, whether about who should be a CEO, the reality is the historical reality is that this is a multiracial democracy. And it's not stopping-- look at the numbers, but rather than embrace that, there are people that are embracing ideologies that were talked about years ago that really never left. And that's the unfortunate part. And that's why history is so important. Why the social sciences? Why the humanities, psychology, sociology, we put so much emphasis on the STEM, then we're mad we have these events in Buffalo. And in Texas, why, how does this happen? Why does this happen? We have no clue. We don't understand civics and how the power of voting. So the next step is to continue the work that's being done at the K-12 level, at the college level. We need to re-emphasize the humanities, because we saw what happened in Buffalo and Texas, that's not human. That's not humanity. So we need to re-emphasize humanities, we need to put more money into the NEH humanities. That's what needs to really happen. In social studies, in English, that, the same energy we put into STEM, robotics, artificial intelligence, you know, just we just go googoo gaga over that stuff. But if I say the humanities, everybody gets kind of quiet. It’s a waste of time. Nobody reads those books, why it's not important, but then we're upset when there’s lack of empathy. We're upset when there's poverty, it’s oh, we put our hands up, nobody knows what to do, because we don't have a solid foundation in humanities, and including history.

Tina:

Well, and I think you mentioned it earlier too, the discipline, the practice of critical thinking is emphasized in the humanities. And I think that, especially with so much social media and the access, I mean we have instantaneous communication and news and there, that's been really lost that, people can't discern for themselves, whether something that they're being shown or told is true or accurate. They don't have the tools to find out true information. And I think that, yeah, I think that you're, I believe that you're correct. Like.

Dr. Canton:

And it's been difficult because of social media, like when we went to school, your teacher would come in, “The New York Times or Time Magazine said ‘X.’” Okay, you'll be on the stand, you might have looked at it. Nowadays, because everything is so niche, marketed information, there's no common thread. So if you said, you read Huffington Post that might be 4 students, “I read this”- 3 students. They don't watch TV, so it's hard to come in and develop that. What's something we can talk about on a news issue that 80 percent of students have read? Then, like you also said about critical thinking, I think that again, school is about making a critical thinker. That's a skill set, understanding perspective, evidence and interpretation. Those are skills. That's what's taught in the humanities. Unfortunately, for a lot of our students, we go to school, it’s about just getting that job, but not think critically thinking. Right? So in other words, we have students, you know, I want to be in a nursing school, okay. But we realize in the health profession, there's a belief that Black people feel less pain than White people. So if you, if you start from that premise, and I come in with a knife wound, and you come in with a mosquito bite, they're gonna treat you first. Now, that's because when you went to undergrad, you went to all these classes, you didn't take these classes in African American Studies. So therefore, you've internalized these racial stereotypes. That's the problem. Real Estate, you went to school, you went to business, you got your degree in business, you want to sell homes, you deny black people, because you feel that they have bad credit, but you don't understand the history of wealth inequality. You see what I mean? You don't take the time to sit down, let's say ok what happened. Well, I lost my job during COVID. You know, I don't have 20%, I have 17%, or are there any programs, ou're not going to take the time to understand that history, which the assumption is somehow Black people messed up. And for mortality, we saw the congressman the other day that, we know historically racism and sexism, and, leads to bad health outcomes. But if you don't take those classes, you just go through the health health program, you're gonna internalize the belief that Black women don't want to be healthy That's what we're dealing with out here. That's why it's more important than ever to get these too, whether they're minor, taking some classes, but really have to realize that information is valuable. That makes a difference in patient care, educational outcomes, but people don't see it that way. Right? They just see it as I'm coming to school to be “X,” that knowledge is not as valued, but guarantee, in your career you're going to come to it's going to come to you face to face. And that's when we have these problems whether it’s with the work, at the airlines, not understanding these histories is leading to these problems all over this country.

Tina:

So in brief, do we just bring more awareness to it? I mean, it's just constant work of having to…refocus…

Dr. Canton:

Yep, that's why they call it the struggle, right? That's why it's the struggle, you know, don't let despair. I sound like Dr. King now. Don’t let despair defeat you, because it can be overwhelming. I mean, we saw in Buffalo a week later, you could throw your hands up, but the reality is you have to continue that struggle, and that’s where history comes in. It’s because obviously, if you look at African American history, you know, you can imagine the enslaved, the, Jim Crow, they could have easily gave up, but they didn’t. You know, so obviously, people can say, “Well, things are better, but there’s still work to do.” And just because you say things are better doesn’t mean there’s no racism. It just means there’s more work to do, and with all the information and resources now, there’s no reason you know, not to continue and engage to make society a better place.

Tina:

Dr. Canton, thank you so much for being our guest today. I look forward to posting and publishing this. This episode should air on June 16th, just in time for…

Dr. Canton:

Oh, the day before my birthday, sounds good.

Tina:

Yes! Just in time for your birthday.

Dr. Canton:

Okay!

Tina:

So thank you so much.

Dr. Canton:

Thank you. I enjoyed it. Looking forward to doing this again. [music]