For the record, this is me thinking out loud. Right now, I am about to subject you to the intricacies of the random space that is my mind, which again, for the record, can sometimes be a scary space. However, I ask that you please share with me a few moments of your time, and help me to figure out if there are any legs to what it is that I am thinking.
Okay. I am of the opinion, that all children, to include my own, who are educated via the public school system, in these United States of America, are suffering at the behest of a so called white supremacist doctrine. I say so called white supremacist, because I refuse to embody the idea that white people are supreme or superior to me in any capacity (yep I said it).
Here’s my logic. Black History is either not taught at all in many school systems, or if it is taught, it’s normally only instructed during Black History Month, and it’s primarily delivered from a space of trauma and oppression. White history, on the other hand (which is the history that they teach us year round), is usually delivered from a space of pride and grandiosity. As such, what begins in childhood is an internalization of so called white superiority that usually transitions into adulthood, and ultimately functions as perpetual fuel for the so called white supremacist ideology.
Consider this abbreviated timeline of the history of black people as it is generally instructed in many of our public schools today:
- First we were enslaved (oppression, trauma). According to our history books, this lasted for about 400 years or so and then our great white hope, good ole’ Abraham Lincoln freed us from the bowels of slavery and oppression (white superiority). Side note: they never teach us the back story of this endeavor which is laced in the facts that Abraham Lincoln was not a true abolitionist, he did not believe that black people should have the same rights as white people and that his primary motivation for war was to save the union. Furthermore, we rarely hear the story of Toussaint Louverture, the Haitian Revolutionary Hero who initiated the only successful slave rebellion in history by standing, courageously, against his European slave masters thereby liberating himself and his people 5 years before Abraham Lincoln was even born. Honorable mention, they will tell us the story of Harriet Tubman, but not with the majesty and venom that the queen mother deserves.
- Then, after Lincoln emancipated and legislated us into society, black people were terrorized and oppressed through Jim Crow.
- Then, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with Mrs. Rosa Parks, fought long and hard for our people, and were ultimately able to convince Lyndon B. Johnson (again, our great white hope) to give us our Civil Rights! It should be noted that to get these rights we had to be hosed down in the streets, bitten by dogs, beaten by cops, arrested and killed, for years (oppression/trauma), but by Jove, we got our rights! Side Note #2: if it appears as though I’m throwing shade right here yall, I apologize. The stories of Dr. King and Mother Rosa Parks are stories of strength and heroism that need to be told, and I would never, in any way, shape, form or fashion attempt to belittle or negate the importance of their contributions. It’s just that other movements, that either preceded the Civil Rights Movement or were happening right along-side it, are never highlighted. To mention, what about the story of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association or the story of the Honorable Elijah Mohammad and the Nation of Islam? These, too, were extraordinary visionaries who facilitated movements where black people opted to stand on their own two feet without the help or intervention of the white community, representing a different type of strength and heroism. Not referencing these moments in history can easily be attributed to fostering the idea of white superiority because it promotes the belief that during this era everybody wanted to be integrated into this great white society. However, it is extremely important to note that not all black people wanted integration.
- Finally, about 4 decades after receiving our Civil Rights, we overcame yall and the nation elected its very first black president, Mr. Barack Obama! Side Note #3: I’ll be the first to admit that the visual of having a whole black family in the white house was dope but, unfortunately, even after having a black president, we still find ourselves having these same conversations about racism. Except for this time, the dialogue is slightly different. This time, the country is experiencing a reckoning if you will, and white people are apologizing for systematic oppression and companies are “standing with us” because “black lives matter”, and murals are being painted on the streets of our cities. Yet, our children, who are fundamentally the future of this nation, are still being mis-educated in our schools. The idea that black people had cultures and traditions prior to coming to America is rarely acknowledged; the brilliance of black people is rarely highlighted (unless it’s entertainment or sports) and our significant contribution to what IS the flavor of American culture is consistently overlooked.
Now, after tossing in a few stories about entertainers, athletes and others that were allowed to break the color barrier in one form or another, what you’ve got, in a nutshell, is the public school system’s Black History curriculum!
This is nothing short of criminal; and I have deducted, that our school systems are actively propagating revisionist history, thereby contributing to systemic racism. Children are being taught a distorted interpretation of the historical record which serves to subliminally project racist ideologies into their little minds and hearts. The impact of white washed historical revisionism is particularly destructive to the psyche of black children in that its effect is sometimes self-sabotaging; and it is ultimately devastating to the psyche of all children, for it helps to perpetuate a conception of white superiority and racist biases. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is critical that we recognize the internalized levels of racism that occurs in our educational settings because children spend a significant portion of their time there.
I feel compelled to pause here and take the liberty of exercising a little historical revisionism of my own. I’d like to offer a modicum of accuracy to some key historical elements that were conveniently re-interpreted before being infused into our educational curriculums. This, of course, is for the culture, but more importantly, it’s for the ancestors:
- The father of medicine was a black African named Imhotep, not a white Greek named Hippocrates. (1)
- The first pyramids stood at least 2100 years before the Greek Pythagoras was even born, yet he’s given credit as having given the world the Pythagorean theory. How Sway?
- Europeans absorbed massive amounts of knowledge from the Black Moors of Spain, allowing them to transition from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance Period. In fact, were it not for the genius of black minds, they would have continued the practice of throwing poo from the windows of their homes. (Yuck!) (2)
- The idea that Black History began with slavery and, more so, the act of even calling us “slaves”, is a deceitful misnomer. We were not slaves. We were doctors, agriculturists, spiritual leaders, chiefs, kings and queens, who were enslaved by white people and brought to a foreign land. (2)
- Early slave traders were well aware that many of the Africans who had been captured and brought to America were already highly educated and multi-lingual, yet this narrative is not included in most history books. (2)
- Once the enslaved were free, they reduced their illiteracy rate by 55% in a span of thirty years, the only enslaved group of people to ever do so. This speaks to our innate brilliance, but of course, this narrative is not included in the history books either. (3)
- Lewis Latimer gave the world the light bulb that we all know today, not Thomas Edison. (4)
- Honorable Mention: Chuck Berry invented Rock and Roll, not Elvis Presley. (5)
Unfortunately yall, I could go on and on. The degree of mis-education that is perpetuated in our public educational institutions is maddening. But imagine if all children, black, white and otherwise, were given accurate accounts of history via the school system. Imagine how emboldened and empowered black children would be. Imagine if black babies could internalize that they were kings, queens and innovators instead of niggas and slaves. Imagine if the institution that is responsible for building and cultivating a large part of our children’s knowledge base, actually provided for them right knowledge.
Furthermore, consider the impact that this information would have on the cognition of white children. There’s no way that they could possibly grow into adults who deem themselves superior to other human beings when the diameter of their knowledge is rooted in the true depiction of the accomplishment and triumph of a people. Imagine if the next white child, who grows up to be a cop, or a judge or a teacher had a firm understanding of the amazing accomplishments of black people. Imagine if they too, internalized our greatness and power instead of internalizing our subjected submissiveness and ignorance. Would it make for a more equitable relationship? Would it lessen their capacity to gun down black babies in broad daylight and leave their lifeless bodies lying dead in the middle of the street? Could knowing the accurate historical record of America and all of her citizenry be a guiding force in helping them to determine what their best practices and behavior should be? I don’t know. Like I said, I’m just thinking out loud.
What I do know for sure is that the children are our hope for the future. As such, if there is to be any hope for concrete and absolute change in our society, if there is to be a real reckoning of the atrocities of the original sins of this nation, if we are to sever one of the biggest roots of structural and systemic racism and oppression that exists in our country today, then we must arm all children with right knowledge right now.
In short, I took yall through the ruminations of the random space that is my mind, only to simply state, that we should make Black History, true and accurate Black History, a permanent part of the public school educational curriculum. PERIOD!
So, what yall think? Am I trippin’?
(1)Dr Anthony Carl Pickett, THE OATH OF IMHOTEP: IN RECOGNITION OF AFRICAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO WESTERN MEDICINE: Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC.
(2)Sultan and Naimah Latif, Slavery: The African-American Psychic Trauma
(3)Claud Anderson, A Black History Reader
(4)Lemelson-MIT Program, Lewis H. Latimer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/lewis-h-latimer
(5)Robert Christgau, Yes, Chuck Berry Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll — and Singer-Songwriters. Oh, Teenagers Too, billboard.com