Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's Black History Month...

My middle daughter reading a plaque at Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
And in case you didn't know, I'm black.  (Well technically I'm brown...well that is figuratively anyways.  Try explaining color to a preschooler...but then why should I have to?)  Back to the main thought, since I'm black I shall revel in all the glory that is heaped upon my children for the next 20 days.  Well not really since my children happen to attend a predominately African-American school they get more of a well rounded education than many others.  Their projects throughout the year have a more statistically accurate representation of the different races of people that make up this country.  Additionally I don't leave the complete education of my children to the school system.  If I did they might think playing "slave and slave catcher" at recess was cool.  That being said, there is a reason that we have Black History Month.

It is a sad reality that color is still an issue in this country.  I'm sorry let me be more specific, race is still an issue in this country.



2   [reys]  Show IPA
a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
a population so related.
Anthropology .
any of the traditional divisions of humankind, thecommonest being the caucasianMongoloid, andNegro, characterized by supposedly distinctive anduniversal physical characteristics: no longer intechnical use.
an arbitrary classification of modern humans,sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or acombination of various physical characteristics, as skincolor, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequentlybased on such genetic markers as blood groups.
a human population partially isolated reproductivelyfrom other populations, whose members share agreater degree of physical and genetic similarity withone another than with other humans.
a group of tribes or peoples forming an ethnic stock: theSlavic race.
any people united by common history, languageculturaltraits, etc.: the Dutch race."

Since race is still an issue in this country we have "Black History Month".  Without it I honestly don't believe students would receive any type of education with regards to the contributions of African-Americans to the development of the United States.  Until the narratives of people of color (Latinos, Asians, Natives) are included in the lesson plans and national standards of learning for future generations; there will exist a need to inject students with a month here and a month there of focused knowledge about said groups.  

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where 1.) my parents were college educated 2.)  they were readers and  3.) they were proud of their ancestry.  I grew up reading "Black Americans of Achievement" books; (I've started giving them to my girls to read now).  Because my mother worked in library when I was younger, I was afforded a seemingly limitless knowledge base. Of course we had encyclopedias but they were limited and I wanted to know more, so I read.  My parents of course encouraged this and I read about Fannie Lou Hamer, and Matthew Henson,  Ida B. Wells, and Mary McLeod Bethune as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and countless others.  Even if my parents weren't college graduates I'd still have grown up knowledgable because they did, and only one of my grandparents was a college graduate.  My ancestors were dedicated to the education of the future, and I will be the same.  

In high school I had the opportunity in my AP English class to do a self-directed learning and I chose to focus on the writings of African American authors - otherwise I wouldn't have been introduced to Zora Neale Hurston, or Langston Hughes in a school setting until college.  (I wish I could find that paper now).  I enjoyed that class immensely because it let me step away from the status quo and allowed me the opportunity to explore in depth how narratives vary across ethnic lines.  Now don't get it twisted, I also read "Ethan Frome" that year, and Sylvia Plath, however had I not been in an AP class the odds of me having the chance to read the works of African-Americans would have been drastically reduced.  

My education was further enhanced when I went to college, and majored in Afro-American and African studies.  I was truly fortunate to be able to pay to learn about my history (there's only a hint of sarcasm there).  Honestly we are all severely lacking in education on the history of our country...and if the Tea Party has anything to do with it, we'll be even worse off.  

During this very auspicious month you'll get a little more of ME!  I do not believe we live in post-racial America (sorry Mr. President).  Unfortunately there are places I still wouldn't venture to after dark (places not far from where I live).  There are things I know are racially motivated in this country (with regard to politics) and I know there is a long way for this country to go if it is ever to be what the founders desired (cough, cough).  As the month goes on, you'll see more of me.  I hope you are not offended, but this is "life as i know".  

Until Next Time, 
Be Blessed


Unknown said...

I wanted to clarify something on this. When I say used to voice my opinion, I still do, but I don't have to often since reaching adulthood. I grew up in Coweta and Meriwether county, and it was a lot different. I moved to Gwinnett when I was 18, and there are a lot of good people here. I don't begin to understand the same experiences as anyone, black or otherwise, but I am sympathetic and just wish it didn't exist at all. I hope I didn't come across the wrong way, and I would be mortified to come off as inadvertently offensive.

I also wanted to thank you for the information on the charitable organization. I'm going to start out small, one little aquarium at a time to people who are able to care for them or have a caretaker who is willing to. I appreciate your help.

Shanta Hayes said...

Oh no clarification necessary. You didn't offend, I actually agree with you and that was really the point of the post. We are all humans and each of our histories is part of American history and I don't understand why it can't be woven together the way it happened.

Heck after reading your comment, I thought "I'd like to me Amberr in real life" SN: I actually ran into another GSMM yesterday, I was like "Is your name _____? I read your blog." It was pretty cool. But I digress, growing up on military bases surrounded by all races and ethnicities of people you gain an appreciation for diversity and the right of people to just live their lives. Unfortunately the rest of the world is not that microcosm of racial harmony.

With regards to the project you're working on...You are welcome. If I can help anymore let me know. Even though you want to start small a business plan is still a good idea, and some guys I know suggest updating it frequently in the early stages, because things are constantly changing. It also helps with funding. You might also reach out to local service organizations to see if they'd be willing to help; Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rotary club, etc..

Shanta Hayes said...

This is Amberr's original comment which was accidentally deleted. My apologies Amberr ;)

"There are places I wouldn't venture to after dark either, because of my race. Anyone who says race is not an issue should see some of the ugly looks I get when out in public with my Asian husband and mixed child. I like Black History month, but i loved it the most in my elementary school--Harriett Tubman being my hero even before I knew exactly what slavery was all about, before I was old enough to feel ashamed that white people were behind it. I wish I could change things as they are now, and I used to voice my opinion of how unfair it was to discriminate against blacks. I've been called many things- "N lover" was the most common. I still voice my opinion, but I now include all races under that blanket now who don't deserve discrimination. I consider myself a lover of mankind. My daughter doesn't even know the N word or the slang variation of it, and she's almost six. It has no place in my home. it's a shame that there has to be a specific month for black history when it should be interwoven with the history of America and the world all year round, but I absolutely see the need for it with the educational system as it is.

P.S. I discovered Langston Hughes in AP English, too. Race aside, we seem to have lots in common :-)

P.S. "