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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Proverbs, their origin, their history, and their wisdom in bringing forth
many of us from the Motherland--wise, industrious, and strong. While
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,
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,
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