Thoughts are flowing and so I wanted to piggyback off of Dee’s post really quickly. I think it’s so important that we plant into the minds of our young ones their history, and not a history that began with chains but a history that narrates the lives of African ancestors long forgotten and often overshadowed. I think it’s important to stress to the minds of our young ones that they are more than the reduced image that’s been slapped on Africa. We need to pay attention to the psychological effects that these subliminal messages of inferiority are having on our future generations. We can’t accept these teachings as conventional education because these teachings are inadequate, we need to be proactive in teaching our children about their history; African history.
Sophomore year in college, during my Marriage and Family course, I read an articles that stated how plenty of black parents are now considering home-schooling. When I dug deeper into the change of heart I discovered that these parents are not protecting their children from bullying or peer alienation. And these parents aren’t pulling out their kids because the classrooms are too big or because they believe their kid’s won’t get enough attention. These parents have committed to an alternative method of education because they want their children to learn, and by learn I mean they want their children to become acquainted with a rich Africa and it’s history and not the desolate land that’s referenced in mediocre social studies classes. The history does not stop with Africa, these parents want their children to be educated on Kathleen Cleaver, Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, Josephine Baker, Grace Bumbry, Marcus Garvey, Azukua Hope, Zora Neale Hurston and many other forgotten black figures. These parents want their children to know what individuals have laid down the path to make their pursuit of education even possible, these pioneers who are seldom acknowledged unless their names are conveniently infiltrated into a Black History Month lesson.
And if you feel as though this issue isn’t relevant to you, please understand that it is. Because whether the attempts were successful or not, we were all conditioned to believe that Africans were nothing but slaves who the whites freed and that’s that. It doesn’t matter if you’re in middle school, high school, college, graduate school or in the workforce, these images were pushed upon you. If you’re a human being, especially African or of African descent, this issues matters; if you’re a human being, this issue is relevant to you. Because we were all children at one point in time. We were all impressionable and susceptible to deception and biased information. Some of us were able to dodge the bullets because we had conscious parents who counteracted the attempts of the public school system to demean our heritage and rob of us our history. Some of us started out bounded with mental chains but escaped captivity and familiarized ourselves with freedom by pursuing knowledge on our own accord. And unfortunately, some of us are still victims who have bought into a teaching that preaches to us we are inferior. The movement to reclaim our roots is relevant to you if you are a father, mother, song, daughter, uncle, aunt, brother, or sister. It’s relevant if you plan on starting a family of your own one day, because one day your child will be the target of these messages. And we all need to be aware of the bullets so we can shield our kids and make sure they are rooted in a deep understanding of who they are, where they come from and what they’re capable of achieving.
The proper application of education and awareness leads to the healthy development of a child’s sense of identity and overall self-esteem. They’re not going to learn who they are solely from memorizing George Washington quotes and learning about how honest Abe was. How does this history benefit a child when they’re being told that everyone who’s contributed to the growth of this country was white? What message is being feed to our children when they can go through an entire history book and only see three or four faces that look like their’s in the midst of thousands? It’s unfair and it’s setting our children up for failure if we ourselves fail to see how detrimental a lack of our own education can be to future black generations.
This issue reminds me of the popular Marcus Garvey quote “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” If our children grow up not knowing about their African history, about their black historical figures, about the ones who laid down their lives so future generations could live with more rights, then what foundation do our children have? If the only messages they are receiving from the media is that Africa is poverty and black people are either criminals, thugs, or basketball players… what foundation do they have? This is a call for awareness. Many of us probably currently aren’t parents but I assume that a large population of us will be in the future. And even to those who don’t intend on having children, there will be nieces, nephews, cousins, and neighborhood kids who look up to us and seek inspiration and some form of guidance. It’s funny that I say this as though we ourselves aren’t seeking inspiration. Because each and every one of us is still guilty of looking for someone to motivate us and hand us some empowerment. And how much does it hurt when we’re incapable of finding that source of strength? We are all familiar with the pain of disappointment, we’re all familiar with the disappointment of someone who had the capability of helping us out not obliging to their moral duties. Hopefully we’ll be conscious enough to not hurt our children in this sense, but we educate them on their roots and instill in them a pride for their skin color, unique characteristics, their heritage, and their roots.
I think too many parents have fallen victim to the triteness of life, casually sending their kids off to school to get some stale “education.” But are our children really learning? Are they learning about who they are and about their ancestors? Probably not. And if their schools won’t teach them, who will?