The Crusader Newspaper Group


The launch of a revolution to combat the miseducation and invalidation of Black learners

It is unconscionable that people who don’t look like us, think like us, care about us, or understand us make decisions about how we educate our young.

It is a dereliction of our responsibility to Black children to sit silently as racists edit African-Americans out of history books. It is unimaginable that we not sternly protest books relative to our plight, being banned.

In order to gain more control in Texas, the state has moved to virtually eliminate prerogatives of librarians. They have decided to re-purpose libraries as school disciplinary centers. These aggressive and bold challenges are designed to thwart attempts to broaden the knowledge and thinking of not only children of color, but many open minded young white scholars. That is detestable.

The only thing that could be worse is sitting on our hands and doing nothing about this assault on Intellectualism. We must become more inventive in our thinking and create strategies to combat these oppressive forces that are having an impact on a daily basis.

We can’t simply lament the ignorance and insensitivity of our foes. When you really stop and think about it, the Black Panthers had the right idea. They summarily rejected the notion of placing the education of Black children exclusively or even primarily in the hands of white educators and lawmakers.

Part of the problem is that schools don’t appear to fight back. That is probably due to compromised allegiances. For example, 70 percent of public school teachers are white, while only 13 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 11 percent Black.

The will to resist the troubling trends may be diminished by the insensitivity or nonchalance of the professionals on the front lines of public education. But even if it is inevitable that most Black children will be taught by whites, it doesn’t preclude the boundless possibility of creating alternate learning opportunities beyond traditional perimeters.

Don’t get me wrong. My respect for the commitment and compassion of Black classroom instructors is off the chain. But there’s only so many hours in the day and administrators are so restrictive when it comes to the focus on “standards,” more is needed. We need more. Out of the box thinking and revolutionary strategies may offer the only effective and sustainable remedy.

The solution must come from within the Black community. While there is the prospect of empathetic collaboration from other demographics, the fact is there has not been sufficient cooperation of that kind to this point, so there is no reason to assume such a powerful partnership will emerge in the immediate future. Make no mistake, once we begin seriously addressing this crisis the process will welcome and benefit from any and all individuals who are serious about change.

The point of the matter is, we cannot allow Arkansas to disrespect the work of students and teachers by rejecting studies relating to a Black oriented curriculum.

What that governor and legislature choose to do is their own accord. The best way to address that is at the polls by voting out such disrespectful government officials. But it does not address the immediacy of this concern and they can do nothing, but this hardened Black scholars who deserve better. Most importantly, they deserve better from us.

If you are a Baby Boomer, reflect for a moment on the support you enjoyed from so many people in our community. It was indeed a village. Yes, you were encouraged by classroom instructors, and those in the framework of the school itself. But your parents and neighbors who comprised “extended family” were joined by community and civic leaders, church-based support, extracurricular activities, sports, and so many other critical elements of THE VILLAGE that contributed to your full development.

When segregation forced the bulk of Black families to live together in neighborhoods that were the direct influence of red lining, everybody knew somebody important who lived close by. Children saw themselves in the faces of people who were successful, whether as professionals, or simply responsible, working men and women who set examples. As the Black community spread, so did the intensity of that influence. We must develop ways by which to recapture that social impetus.

The purpose of this column is to articulate the need, the undeniable necessity to address means by which Black children can once again see themselves in their studies and reimagine possibilities. In next week’s column, I plan to propose do-able, constructive approaches to achieving this urgent goal. We have most of the resources at our immediate disposal and need only to consider steps that can be taken for full implementation of learning schemes that offset suppression and literally offer keys for change.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Next week, tangible solutions that can be implemented in the community and across the nation to enhance Black children’s knowledge of self while inspiring higher levels of academic and life achievement).

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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