Two statistics on youth cited over the past week triggered some thought. One from Marian Wright Edelman, President of Children’s Defense Fund, cited “Since the new Congress convened earlier this month, more than 1,000 children and teens have been shot by guns. A child or teen is shot every 30 minutes”. The other, in Black Ed You Can Use “One percent of all ninth-grade white males in 2009 had been required to repeat a grade during their K-9 years. The percentage of all ninth-grade Black males in 2009 who had been required to repeat a grade was 29%”. Source: US Dept of Education.
While it’s great to teach our children about their African and African-American history and instill respect and admiration for Black leaders, it would be even greater to prepare every Black child for leadership and that requires adults taking responsibility for the roles we play in keeping them alive, out of prison and supporting them in finding a purpose for their lives. Can we dedicate this Black History Month to initiating ways that we, family and community, can do that? Let’s face it – we and our children are at the mercy of a profit-driven system. Yet, we still have the ability to bring change. While we’ve marched, rallied, boycotted against systemic injustices, the statistics on our youth show that something is still missing. Energy must be exerted towards what we’re for rather than what we’re against. While the education statistics depict a dire need for change, the change can and most likely will have to begin with parents, grandparents, relatives and community. The discussions, debates about education issues are usually between adults, teachers, administrators, government officials, etc. Where are the voices of the students of all ages?
We don’t allow children to question or disagree with us; we don’t allow them to make choices. Instead, we crush the attempts, often creating anger, distrust and dependency on others. In short, we’re content to have them be good followers. So if we’re really serious about change, let’s begin with our own behavior in our own household and observe and share the results.
The school system is in dire need of overhauling, test scores which feed the prison pipeline, questionable teacher evaluations, schools being closed, charters being opened, teachers who majored in education are subject to replacement by those with corporate backgrounds. Where does this madness end? At what point do we put our children’s welfare in the picture? At what point do we even discuss the children – creating schools with curricula that feed and grow the natural intelligences of students with which they problem-solve and create new perspectives for humanity. At what point do we take the responsibility for rearing children who will create a sane society? I’ve always remembered how the topic of “parenting” was automatically linked to “schools” growing the theory that a parent was good or bad depending on their involvement designated by school administrators. Now is the time for parents to step up to the plate, to invest energy in making our homes, families and neighborhoods a nurturing experience for children while participating in their child’s school.
It’s time to take responsibility for our children. We have been generally in denial around the behavior of our young people. We talk about their disrespectful attitudes and violent acts. We express our fear of and fear for them but we don’t take responsibility for their behavior. We never seem to recognize or acknowledge that the behavior is a result of something in their environment, something that we adults have or have not done with the youth’s assumptions.
Dr. Edwin Nichol’s Philosophical Aspects of Cultural Difference reveals the highest-held African value lies in interpersonal relationships. African villages were communities of families in which each member contributed to the whole.
This is also a time for adults to do serious introspection, reviewing our childhoods, healing and forgiving discovered emotional wounds. Those hidden wounds shape attitudes and inhibit our ability to empathize. We must heal ourselves in order to heal the children An exercise: List a relative, co-worker, etc. with whom you have a strained relationship. Write I forgive (person’s name) for ( stating the reason) 25 times twice a day for seven days. Share results: firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Sat., Feb. 2nd 10am -1pm – Free Parent Workshop – Improving Food Served in Your Child’s School – IS 302 Rafael Cordero Middle School, 350 Linwood St. (Liberty &Atlantic Aves). Free child care and refreshments. Info: Brooklyn Food Coalition – Cypress Hills Advocates for Education – 347-921-3918, 718-647-8100