In American history, as in American life, Black Americans are invisible presences. They are not
seen, not because of their absence but because of the presence of a myth that prepares and requires their absence. The myth of absence, which expresses this idea and intention, operates not by misinterpretation and slander but by silence and exclusion.
By simply not mentioning certain realities and by removing Black actors from scenes in which they played supporting and sometimes starring roles, the manipulators of the myth change the color of the past and control perceptions and acts in the present. It is not by accident, therefore, that the dominant images of popular history, the images of Minutemen, Pilgrims, Cowboys and Soldiers in Blue, are white images. But these images, which are staples of mass media, are selections from a multicolored whole which include both Black and White actors. And to grasp the American experience in its fullness, we have to remember that Blacks were present and acting at almost every major event in American History.
Lerone Bennett Jr., American (1928 – 2018)
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