By Kwame Nantambu
January 14, 2020
The recent tragic crash of Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 shortly after taking off from Tehran, Iran, thereby killing all 176 passengers on board, has once again brought to the fore the use, albeit misuse, of the term/label Black to describe/analyze such fatal/bad incidents/events.
For example, when the American Stock Market crashed on Monday, 19 October 1987, that calamity /catastrophe was described/labeled as “Black Monday” and that day was “ranked with the blackest days of the great crash of 1929.”
Furthermore, in 1988, when several Americans were accused of defrauding the Defense Department out of possible billions of dollars in regard to irregularities in defense procurement contracts, that structural incident was described as a “Black hole” in the procurement process.
And in mid- November 1989, when Charles Keating was accused of stealing as much as $1.5 billion from his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, the accepted overt conclusion was that ” Lincoln dropped into a regulatory black hole” and Charles Keating was aptly described as a “financial black beard.”
And even when snow on America’s interstate highways, streets, roads and bridges may portend something fatal/ bad is going to happen, then that white snow is suddenly described/labeled as “Black ice.”
In addition, when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday, suddenly, it becomes “Black Friday”—a bad, evil day!.
Indeed, another serious, very troubling scenario in which the color is assigned involves a plane’s Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder instruments. Now, when the plane takes off, the original colors of these instruments are orange and yellow. However, not wishing, when the plane crashes as in the case of Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800, then, suddenly, those original orange and yellow colored instruments are described/labeled /analyzed to the entire world as the “Black Boxes.” What’s wrong with this picture?.
More specifically, even if the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder instruments are severely mutilated/damaged/destroyed, they would still maintain their original orange and yellow colors; Why , then, are they described as the “Black Boxes?”.— Why is that?.
The salient fact of the matter is that according to the conventional wisdom in the United States, whenever something goes array; when something does not function in the positive way it is supposed to function; when something negative happens; when there is a calamity/catastrophe; and when something illegal occurs, then , the label/adjective used to describe such incidents/events is BLACK!.
Moreover, all members of the international community need to heed the poignant but apocalyptic admonition of slain African-American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as follows: “Now the judgement of God is upon us and we must either learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or we are all going to perish together as fools.”
In the final analysis, now is the most opportune time for the entire international community, especially media personnel, to begin to describe/label incidents/events/accidents according to their specific stark reality rather than to designate/couch them within the unacceptable context of color as in BLACK!.
THE AUTHOR is professor emeritus Kent State University, USA.