copyright © 2005 Jesse Wozniak

Announcer: Hello, I’m noted historian White Whitington. As we are reaching the end of February, the coldest, shortest month of the year, also known as Black History Month, we have heard many messages that have inspired us. We’ve heard about Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader; Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball’s color barrier; Halle Berry, the first black woman to win a best actress Oscar; Denzel Washington, the man who helped open up lead roles in movies for African Americans; that guy with the peanuts...that lady on the underground you know, that angry guy with the glasses. Some African American scholars have theorized that such rosy images of Black history send the wrong message. They allow white society to sit on their hands and ignore current injustices. By only looking at Black successes, it makes it appear as if history went much better than it actually did in reality. Further, they argue that by focusing so much on famous musicians and athletes, we reinforce the racist message that all African Americans are naturally successful in the entertainment industry. So, in order to counter those rosy images, we are going to today present some notable failures of African Americans who tried to break into popular entertainment, but were none too successful. We like to call this documentary "Black History Month: A Look at the Failures Behind the Successes." Enjoy!

Diff’rent Strokes--now there was an entertaining show! It taught us all alot about overcoming racial prejudice and acceptng all people, but very few know the tragic story behind the show’s most famous punchline. William "Willis" Freeman, Sr. was the leading cardiac tissue transfer surgeon of the 1970s. Whenever the powerful or famous needed serious surgery performed, it was to Freeman that they flocked. He performed surgery on everyone from Winston Churchill, to the Ayatollah Khomeni, to the late Hollywood starlet Joey Heatherton. To these people in need, it did not matter what Willis Freeman’s race was, only that he could perform under pressure. However, it was probably Freeman’s most famous patient that brought his career to a crashing end. The year was 1972 and an aging and frail Pope John the 23rd was having serious kidney problems. Having heard of Freeman’s prowess, the holy man insisted his kidney transplants be performed by the famous doctor. Despite his wife’s protestations that a heart surgeon could not perform this procedure, Freeman--an ardent, lifelong Catholic--felt it was his duty to perform the surgery. However, his lack of experience prevailed that day and the surgery went awry, and the frail Pope’s fate was sealed. As Freeman explained that his time had come, the Pope looked up at him and replied in his heavily accented, broken English "What you talkin’ about, Willis?"

Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlin revolutionized the game of basketball. It is because of his dominating inside presence and scoring ability that we have both the 24-second clock and the three-second violation, amongst other rules instituted specifically to curb Wilt’s fantastic ablity. However, only the most ardent sport fans know of his less famous predecessor, Hadder "The Step Ladder" Byron. Hadder, in order to improve his game, took to dragging a step ladder up and down the court with him, so that he could climb up to the goal and simply palce the ball through it’s ring, rather than take the traditional approach of throwing the ball into the air to make a "basket." Although his plan seemed foolproof, league officials, players, and fans alike all reacted angrly to Hadder’s plans and he was banned for life from the game. He was, however, noticed by one "Sweetwater" Bubba Gum Tate, who stole Hadder’s patented "Step Ladder Climb and Goal Score" move for his fledgling Harlem Globetrotters. Hadder attempted to file suit against "Sweetwater" Bubba Gum, but lost the case in district appellate court. He committed suicide shortly after.

After the release of the seminal gangsta rap hit album "Dr. Dre 2001", the life of one Orenthal James Winchell started a great decline. It is all due to one interesting error made during the song "The Next Episode". After Dre, PhD, exclaimed his intentions to quote "Get his smoke on" and then quote "get his drink on", he was clearly fully intending to quote "Come back with something to poke on", at which point Orenthal exclaimed "Something!" loudly and harshly, a move which could not be labeled merely terrible, but rather garnered the title of "crazy whack funky". Because of this, Orenthal was quickly fired from the Dr. Dre crew, and was forced to seek more work to support his growing family. After spending some time with His Majesty Sir Mix-A-Lot, Orenthal was once again dismissed. This time, however, was for personal reasons, as he was alledged o be having an affair with Mrs. Alot. Finally, being reduced to near nothingness due to his utter lack of ability, he has become a free-lance posse member, often seen on the side of the road holding a sign reading "Will Wear Big Puffy Coat and Stand Around in the Background for Food".

Announcer: So you see, Black History Month is not always about successes and moving forward. No, unfortunately the story of Black America often is fraught with failures and backward movement. Well, I hope you all learned something about African Americans tonight, and will continnue to learn about them for the next (look at clock) 73 hours and 27 minutes. After that, plase enjoy all of the wonderful history lessons you can learn during "White History 11 Months."


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