The month of February has been designated as Black History Month. Its origins first germinated back a half a century after the Thirteenth amendment abolished slavery in the United States. Spearheaded by the G.O.A.T Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland in 1915, Black History Month was created as a means to acknowledge and honor the achievements of Black Americans and other peoples of African descent. It would take another 61 years (1976) for an American president, Gerald Ford, to officially recognize Black History Month and to encourage “US” to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in our society. As a result, our educational indoctrination system expanded curriculums to further discuss and educate our children on slavery and highlighted a few extraordinary heroes and heroines who symbolized black achievement despite injustice.
A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankindThe Message – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
As this month arrived, perhaps you wondered why I didn’t post significantly about this seemingly important month. For me, the mere delineation of one month to celebrate the contributions of Blacks seemed too inadequate on so many levels, especially since black contributions to the American colonies IS American his-story. The legacy is too rich, too deep, too intertwined and too substantial to limit it to just one month. The contributions ranging from economic impact, cultural significance or even spiritual enrichment made us “US”. A tribe member recently told me that upon visiting London, he saw individuals of African decent wearing shirts that said “365 24 seven.” The meaning of these numbers is to account for the legacy and importance of black representation and achievement in everyday life (both past and present). Being black is a racial identity and consciousness that cannot be limited nor can the past contributions be contained. The opportunity to fully incorporate black contributions could be done as effortlessly and seamlessly as we have done with European history if we are willing to collectively commit to its importance. After all, we are all interconnected being a part of the same evolving human family responsible for this planet (even if we sometimes demonstrate dysfunctional and slightly neurotic behavior in our relationships with the other.)
Change is never easy but our educational system needs to adjust its narrative for how it incorporates the contributions of not just Black Americans but all underrepresented peoples of this country (aboriginal, women, other immigrants, etc). There are representatives of every ethnicity who could and should be introduced into the profession along with more inclusive curriculums thereby influencing how we educate our children. For example, young children’s reaction to race is very innocent at first (curious but friendly and loving) until they are taught race via the educational, familial and societal indoctrination systems. By simply exposing young children to diverse people via writers, poets, inventors, politicians, scientists, activists, healers, educators, essential workers etc. throughout the school year, they will naturally come to understand that other people, besides their own immediate family and race, have made significant contributions to the success and well-being of this great country. Many might have been dependents of slaves but their economic contributions and the “black tax” carried by their ancestors produced clearly powerful survivors who are no less valuable than others and much too significant to be ignored or diminished.
Teaching is still held as a noble profession. At its best, it can unlock the potential of any human to achieve their highest level of excellence. Clearly, we continue to mis-educate based upon past narratives that no longer serve our highest good as a society. Are we ready to move forward and expand the educational indoctrination system to more accurately reflect what it means to not only be an American but human? Exposing the greatness of the “other’ does not diminish another’s significance so why should we continue teaching false or partial, hard trUths. The benefits of changing our system may threaten the current hierarchy but if we say who we say we are – – The United States of America… One Nation Under God – – nothing less than accountability and trUthfulness should be accepted. American exceptionalism remains a work in progress but we have to call out things that limit our potential to become better. Some don’t know who we “BE” but all may come to learn, understand, respect and appreciate what the other has experienced, overcome and contributed – – 365 24 seven.