One of my good friends and author of the book #YBA always sends me great informative reads in the form of articles, blogs, videos, etc. This morning she sent me a piece from BOSSIP. The editorial was about a movement stemming from the efforts of several members of the Black Panther Party and Black Guerrilla Family that took place in the 70s called Black August. The read stirred up some of my emotions about Black History on a larger scale.
Black History Month was my favorite time of year in elementary school. It meant that we would deviate from the staple subjects for a few weeks while learning more about people that looked like us and where we came from. My most coveted subtopic of the BHM was the Ancient Egyptians. I was fascinated by the pyramids, how they were built, the kings, queens, pharos, dynasties, languages, clothing, etc. It was all astonishing to me. My 5th and 6th grade teachers were my Black History Heroes because they made sure they gave us the sage of our history. They played Motown Classics for us, they wrote plays for us to act out some of the notable events of the Civil Rights Movement and allowed us to explore on our own. I love them for that! I didn’t know how rich I was as a 11/12-year-old.
But as I got older, I began to miss Black History and that’s because my exposure was becoming less frequent.
In Jr High there were a few posters strewn about the school and the occasional viewing of Eyes On the Prize during BHM but nothing of quality consumption. I never felt like I learned anything new during BHM in Jr. High.
By the time I got to high school, my exposure was almost non-existent. So much so, that I can only recall a single memory—the time my English Teacher Ms. Allen allowed me to choose my own Research Paper topic. I chose the Pyramids of Giza. This is the only memory I have of Black History in high school—literally! And although I had more things distracting me in high school than I did in Jr High and Elementary, I was attentive to things that were interesting to me…like Black History. Since I was more likely to study Black History at school than other places and the amount of teaching was very limited if any at all, I stopped noticing the month was recurring—outside of the McDonalds murals on the sides of buses and the radio sound bites on KKDA.
College wasn’t much different. As a college student, you have the freedom of choosing what you will study. This was a freedom that I didn’t take full advantage of. I was more concerned about survival and income. I could have chosen to major in African American Studies or World History, or any other topic that would give me the chance to expand my minimal knowledge of Black History. Buuuuuut, I didn’t. I chose Journalism and Mass Communications—which was subsequently changed after I realized the lack of income without a creative niche. Still, I didn’t choose anything remotely close to Black History.
Circa age 35, I find myself filled with thousands of random facts and topics from the Harlem Renaissance, the Moors, the different variations and origins of the slang term “Nigga”, albinism, Eve Gene, mutating genes, melanin, etc. You name it, if it has or had some derivative of Africa, chances are I know something about it and if I don’t, I will go research it. This is why my friend sends me such reads as Black August for Black Survival.
After reading Black August for Black Survival, I learned something new. Just that quick. I had never heard of Black August, its relation to the Soledad Brothers, nor any of its attributes. Needless to say, this is exactly why Black History is vital to our community. We will never know every detail about our past but there’s definitely room to gain more. These are the very gems that must be converted into normalcies of knowledge.
I have an immeasurable appreciation for learning about events such as Black August because they present a chronological progression to the plight of Black People. They connect the dots to some of the oppressive systems that exist today which contributes to our efforts of dismantling them. Without knowing how things started, it’s difficult to fashion an end.
Not only should we continue acknowledging and sharing events such as Black August, I believe that the Black History should be a standard in all United States public school systems that administer US History as a core subject. If the public school system can accept the taxpayer dollars of blacks, why can’t it educate their children about their cultural histories?
The absence of Black History in public schools has led to a misconception of who African Americans are as a people and their contributions to the United States as a whole. As well, the minimal amount of Black History that is available in public schools is often inaccurate and misleading and has subsequently altered the perceptions that most non-blacks have of African-American people. Unsurprisingly this—among other things has resulted in a level of distrust in the quality of education that is provided in Black Communities. How can we be confident in the content of what our children are learning when its being incorrectly presented if at all? US Textbooks Provide Incorrect Data to Students
Given the fact that Africa is the birthplace of human civilization, it stands to reason why Black History is factually more history of the United States than what is currently being dispensed in public school textbooks and promulgated by teachers and administrators.
Black History deserves standardization and recognition of its commonplace in the US. The independence of Black History and US History only fuels racism and division in American Society and gives legs to the stereotypes that have developed among US Citizens.
Until the time comes that we can identify and educate without opposition the true chronological foundation between Africa and its neighboring countries, events such as Black August and many more integral facts will continue to be under-acknowledged by the whole and marginalized by short stents of celebratory memorializing throughout the year.