Cultural Contributions of Non-Whites

Ignorance and bigotry are in full flower these days and we know that once we hear that Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa had the temerity to state: “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people who you’re talking about — where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” When asked if he specifically meant white people as having contributed almost everything to civilization, he responded, “Than Western civilization itself” and added that it was only Western Christianity that was the source of just about everything.

Rep. King, obviously, had a rather narrow view of the world, a limited education, poor analytic skills and a minimal knowledge of world history and social/scientific development. His personal comments in the past are even worse when you read that he has been reported to have said that “for every [undocumented immigrant] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds-and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Doesn’t it sound reminiscent of the bigotry we heard when people were coming over from Europe? Remember some of the names they called our ancestors and what they accused them of? I do.

Talk about casting aspersions, this guy does it big time. But we owe him a little history lesson to help him get his facts straight, so here’s what I’ve gotten quickly off the internet about the contributions of non-white people, or non-Christians. One fact I do recall from a course I took in college on black history and it has been something that so stunned me that I have to share it with you.

One of these so-called non-contributing, non-whites was a physician, Dr. Charles Drew, who developed a technique for storing blood that made blood banks possible. After his work, blood could be kept longer than the two-day maximum previously. The myth I heard, which is now disputed, is that he was in a horrific accident and died at the ER door because they wouldn’t treat anyone of color at that hospital and they denied him a transfusion. False it turns out, but ignorant people like King have denied his medical breakthrough and that’s the point here.

Lewis Latimer not only worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the plans for the telephone, he also perfected a light bulb better than the one invented by Thomas Edison.

Dr. Patricia Bath developed a device for eye surgery and received several patents for instruments which benefitted those with cataracts.

George Washington Carver is world-famous for his

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George Washington Carver

discovery of the multiple uses for the peanut and beneficial methods for soil development. He also developed 115 products created from the sweet potato, including synthetic rubber.

Benjamin Banneker made important contributions to the science of astronomy even though he had little formal education.

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Dr. Daniel Hale Williams

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first closure of an open wound of the heart in 1893. Have you ever heard of his accomplishments, Mr. King?

I didn’t go back far enough, obviously, but we can find great men and women of every color and creed all over the world who contributed mightily to our culture and our science. None of them should be shoved aside or forgotten, especially by someone who has benefitted from all of it — but he doesn’t recognize it.

Now, Mr. King, do your homework and please engage brain before opening mouth.

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