by Stanley Kinard
Black History First
The challenge with writing this column once a month is that it becomes difficult to focus on one area with so many issues, events and tragedies. This month I have decided to tackle three issues that are undermining the development of our children and community. First is the lack of African history and culture being taught in our schools. Second is the direct correlation this has with the Black- on- Black crime in our communities and third is the desecration of the Black church and its pulpit to promote political agendas and policies on Dr. King’s birthday.
This column has consistently advocated for the teaching of African History and Culture in schools. Our most brilliant educators Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and Dr. John Henry Clarke gave us a lifetime of scholarly research. Their work expressed the necessity of African history and culture being the educational priority for African people. As we begin another celebration of Black History Month, we are only engaging in acts of ancestral treason, unless we implement and commit to align with the goals, of our ancestors regarding passing on of our history and culture. African history and culture in schools must be our primary educational goal. Every principal, teacher and preacher must embrace this idea, if not, they don’t have the best interest’s of our children at heart. Our ancestral principles will assist us in rebuilding our community and stop the psychological and physical killing of our most important commodity-our youth.
There has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding the police killing of an innocent black male, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., in Bedford-Stuyvesant. During that same weekend, another black male, Blake Samel Harper, was shot at a party in East New York, allegedly by another black person. There was very little media coverage of this event and hardly any outrage from our community. I know the parents of this young man. While they have been active in working with youth in our community, this epidemic of Black- on- Black crime still reached out to touch their family. If we do not value Black life, no one else will. Black- on- Black crime is the absence of self- love and the lack of knowledge of African culture that helps to perpetuate this epidemic of us killing ourselves and allowing others to kill us with no response.
While all of this is happening, the mayor and the chancellor implemented a policy allowing for cops to police 12 schools in our community, virtually turning them into prison camps. At the same time, the mayor, the speaker of the city council and various legislative leaders were being graciously invited into the pulpits of Black churches to speak on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. These men who support the criminalization of our youth by policing them in schools instead of educating them, had free access to our community’s greatest asset and most sacred place- the pulpit of the Black church. I remember as a boy growing up in the church that the pulpit was a sacred place. Now it has become sacrilegious, people whose policies are destroying our communities can get up to speak and be applauded. When is the day that Black political leaders are invited into the White church? By the way, I am supportive of Charles Barron’s candidacy for mayor and his platform that “white men have too much power.” We do not need to further empower them with the Black church. This takes me back to my initial
demand calling for African history and culture to be taught in schools. If there were more culture there would be less crime. The real violence in schools is the psychological violence that begins in grade school, where our children are being miseducated about their history.
A final demand of the Black community must be the elimination of the winter break where schools are shut down for an entire week during Black History Month . This is a racist policy that makes no educational sense.
To address some of these issues, there will be a Black Educators Summit to be held at Boys and Girls High School on Saturday, February 21, 2004. This event will begin at 9am. This has been a very difficult year for us in the Black community with the elimination of school boards, the forced curriculum and now cops in schools. Our call must become “Black History First.” It is only then that a real dialogue regarding education reform can take place.
Also, on February 29th, at 3pm, the Chief Bey African Music and Dance Festival will take place at Boys and Girls High School. Chief Bey is a cultural icon that gave us the African drum in America. Although he is facing some health challenges, he continues to inspire our faith in culture and tradition. The community is asked to come out and show your support for this great man. A minimum contribution of $2 0 is requested for this event.