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The Black Cornerempty posted on: 2.01
Mike Ramey Mike Ramey
Time For Some Relevant Black History
by Mike Ramey
The Manhoodline
some text

The first time it happened, I got angry. The second time it happened, I was shocked. The third time it happened, I was speechless. The last time it happened, I got innovative and faced the challenge head on.

The "it" I am referring to is the apparent boredom of many of today's Black youth with the history of our own people.

With another Black History month soon to dawn; the first one of a new millennium, I'd like to send out a general call to all my brothers-be they in the streets, or in the suites; take the time to talk to your kids, the neighborhood kids, and the teens you know at church, in the high school, or on your job about history.

Not the kind of junk about "Kwanzaa." Not the overworked jive about Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr. Not the rhetoric about the Black Panthers and the NAACP. Not the job-saving hype about multiculturalism. But about relevant Black History. Inventors, Psychologists, Mathematicians, Leaders of Industry. High-tech warriors. Our Men. Our Women. Our sayings. Our dreams. Our realities.

 It's A New Day, Baby! 

Thanks to the Internet, there are reams and reams of information being discovered each and every day concerning US! It is a new day, and we had best get on board and learn about who we really are, before we are lost in the shuffle. 

There is more to being an African-American than being a consumer. In many cases, we have been, are, and will continue to be leaders and creators. Our history testifies greatly of what we have done, and can do. Sadly, many black educators often come up short when it comes to instilling the basics of economics, work, thrift, morality, and voting. Teach the young about the power of the ballot, the dollar, and the idea, and more of them will get interested and pursue those areas once they become older. Thus, it is up to you--black parent--to teach your children who they are, before others freely define them on the six o'clock news. 

What Is Going Into Your Child's Brain 
I'll never forget the story told by an Italian-American preacher about his growing up in the states. Come school time, his mother told him to never forget his lunch. Across the street, the Jewish boy's mother told him never to forget his books. In the words of the Italian-American preacher: "That's why you have fat Italians and rich Jews." 

The same can be said for the Black parent today. Just change the words around and you can see for yourself which segments of society are going up, and which segments are going down.

The Secret Heartbreak of Many Black Teachers
The secret heartbreak of many of us in the education field: "Our young people are bored with what they see in the classroom!" 

Here's a challenge for parents for Black History Month; go to your child's school ahead of time and see what they have planned--then see how the kids react to the information from the classroom. The amount of apathy and indifference teens show openly as their ancestors and relatives are being brutalized in days gone by could serve as a real wake up call. In fact, some of them are bold enough to "snub" their noses at the brutality displayed--thanks in part to their ability to head to the local video store or movie theater and see more graphic bloodshed for the price of a six-pack of pop. 

We now have videos of the Civil Rights Marches, the march on Washington and the "I Have A Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and all of the sundry goings-on that brought us back to America--but our children still remain unimpressed. They are on the outside, looking in, in the theater of their minds. 

An Underground Railroad of Information 
Now, before you start thinking that our teens---just don't know how bad it was back then--don't kid yourself! In reality, kids are not dumb--they are pretty smart! If the information is relevant to them, they will kill themselves to get it. 

Again, let's take the Internet for an example. In many a public school, thanks to the Clinton Administration and private computer concerns, computer terminals dot the academic landscape. Students can, and do, have computer access in their school, in many public libraries, in their neighborhoods, or even in the home. The trick is--to find out what they are using these high-tech marvels to accomplish and guide them accordingly. 

What's the average Black teen of today using the Internet for? Why, to search out the lyrics of rap songs, the latest sports scores, celebrity gossip, and swimsuit calendars--all in the effort to be a part of the crowd. Historical information is at the bottom of the list of "fun" activities. 

To me, the Internet represents that new frontier, the new Underground Railroad you could say. It is full of unfiltered and unbiased information. If parents would take the time to explore what is on the Internet about Black History and would either provide it for our kids, or mail it to their teachers, who knows what could be accomplished. 

Bringing Our People Up To Date
Now, one of the chief complaints that I hear from US is that our young people aren't interested in our own history--nor should we force them to learn about it. Well, if the truth be told, if all I had to look forward to throughout twelve years of the education process is to hear how Black folks were slaves and are now free to take part in the economics system of the United States of America, I would get a little bored with it myself. 

We need to bring up some Black History that is relevant; such as the numbers of Black scientists, engineers, and inventors who had created things and held patent during the 1800's--a time when many African Americans were forbidden to read. Or, how entrepreneurship is not a sin, but a blessing--and cite how some of today's Black newspapers, corporations and franchise owners got started. Or--and this is my favorite--spending Black History Month looking at African Proverbs, their origin, their history, and their wisdom in bringing forth many of us from the Motherland--wise, industrious, and strong. While on the subject of strength, have you ever shown your teens the Bible, and explained to them the number of major and minor characters of African descent? In some scripture passages, if Africans chose not to get involved, such as the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and a few other groups, the ancient Hebrews would have perished. 

History is only relevant when it can be shown how it can be applied to an individual group, or generation of people. It's not enough to be Black and proud, but to be Black, take the slings and arrows that life gives you, and overcome--not with a government check, social program grant or involvement with the Democrats or the Republicans--but by skills you have been born with, thanks to God. 

This Black History Month, let's do something daring as a people. Let's make our history relevant to the next generation. Perhaps, our young will get excited about where we came from, so they can have a firm understanding how they can become champions in life, rather than apathetic bystanders. Then, turn them loose to achieve.

Mike Ramey is the author of "The Manhood Line" a column written monthly for men from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. To correspond, drop an email to
Copyright Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.

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