Happy Black History Month!!!
If you’ve been reading our blogs for awhile now, you already know that while I was in the classroom, I never celebrated Black History Month.
What I mean to say is I’ve always celebrated Black History Month but not in the corny ass way schools make you celebrate it, where we only discuss Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
Rewind to last week, which feels like forever ago. I spent the morning teaching the entire 8th grade class at a school that I work closely with. One of the grade level teachers asked me if I could come in and excite the children about BHM and history in general because they were despondent and uninterested.
Before I began to engage them in the learning experience I asked them, why do we learn about history.
And listen, all of their answers were depressing asf.
By the end of my morning I remembered, that the way we teach history and specifically Black History is depressing, dehumanizing and a straight up turnoff. I’ve always known this. I spent 10 years working to get young people to love history.
But how we teach history has gotten even worse y’all.
Now we teach from a woke ass, depressing and dehumanizing way. We now teach 5 year olds about systemic racism, 12 year olds must be able to identify the way their schools are setting them on the path to prison and 17 year olds must organize Black Lives Matter protests and die-ins to prove their wokeness.
Now on one hand, that’s great. On the other hand, that’s fucked up. Because there is no damn balance. No harmony. No joy!
It has left me wondering, does every single thing we do with regards to Black people have to be about White people and their systems of oppression?
I don’t think so.
And therefore, I’m calling a moratorium on discussing White oppression for the next 28 short days and to instead focus on Black girl magic, Black boy joy, Black art, Black excellence, passion, spirituality, creativity, dopeness and education.
Carter G. Woodson the originator of Negro History week created this time of celebration because, he knew that Black people “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”
That means you and me and all the evil oppressive White folks.
With that in mind, I think it’s time for us to get our woke asses together and start anew.
Are you on Instagram?
If not, you should be. IG is like the home of Black Joy, imagery and creativity. I resisted IG for yearsssssssss, because it was too superficial. (I take myself waaaaaaayyyy to seriously sometimes.)
Now, I will admit.
I’m addicted to IG. But that’s another story…
One of my favorite IG pages is the @SenecaVillageMontessori. I can go on there at anytime and see beautiful Black babies learning about the African Diaspora. Recently the children have been learning about Zimbabwe and the Sudan. I never learned about Zimbabwe and the Sudan. I can’t tell you anything about either places beyond Bob Marley made a song about one country and their was a famine in the other country.
I definitely couldn’t point out their flags or locate them on a map that didn’t have labels. My knowledge of Africa beyond the coastal countries of West Africa is pitiful. (And don’t ask me too many questions about West Africa either.)
I check out her page everyday, partly because when I’m feeling disappointed or despondent and I need to be reminded of why I do this work and who I’m doing it for. And also because I need to decolonize my mind. I need to be able to see what a strong African centered education looks an feel like.
They babies are learning how to count in kiswahili y’all. I wanna learn how to count in kiswahili.
Keeping it on IG and because of Seneca, I discovered @thegriotb. Yoooooo, this dude, who is a current teacher just released what he calls, “The 1st Ever Black History Album (and it) is available on all digital formats.” You gotta check out his YouTube page @SchoolYardRap. He got this song, Black Made That. It is so dope.
I bought his album on Tidal (because you know, all Black Everything) and I’ve been listening for the last 24 hours with one of my favorite songs being Mansa Musa. My dudes got 18 tracks of straight Black greatness raps. And all I can think of, as it plays right now, is how much research he had to do and how much creativity he had to cultivate to make this album. Each track is dope, the beats, the lyrics, his flow, the guest appearances and all of the history, makes this a must have album for the holiday season.
Oh, you didn’t know BHM was a holiday? See how colonized you are! Lol!
So wait, let me share one last IG discovery with you, and it isn’t education related; The Soap Box Laundry Service otherwise known as @tsbxco.
If you follow CREADnyc on IG then you may have seen when I totally lost my mind upon finding this business. A Black owned pick up and drop off laundry and dry cleaning service in Brooklyn NY.
OMG, my life has never been the same. I mean, they literally give me back my time, which is giving me life. And they’re so lighthearted and funny and reliable and communicative and my shit comes back clean and folded and damn, just so giddy with joy because of them. And their IG feed is funny asf.
And I would have never have found them, if I wasn’t on Instagram.
For me IG has been a portal for Black excellence and I’ve only highlighted 3 of my favorite pages. I have lots more.
But I want you to discover and share some of your favorite pages with me during Black History Month.
Switching Gears…kind of
Cousin Angela: Did y’all watch her State of the Union special on BET last night? It was everything (and way too short and rushed). Angela Rye is a PROFESSIONAL BLACK GIRL for real and a political phenom. Her one hour special last night gave me goosebumps, because even though she talked about y’all’s president, she crafted a special that spoke about our power, our presence and our future.
It was really all Black everything.
When it was over at 11pm I was ready to get up, get out and do something. But I had to go to bed because it was past my bedtime. But as I laid in bed and reflected on her closing rant (that’s what she called it). I thought about what it means to act.
Cousin Angela asked for us to act woke not to just be woke. Essentially, it is now time to put our actions where our consciousness lies.
Reading, writing, listening and speaking about the conditions of the collective lives of the Diaspora is not enough. It’s a start but those things alone do not get us to liberation. Along with identifying the systems, we need to create new ones. Along with identifying White supremacy in our curriculum and classrooms, we must craft new curriculum and new classroom cultures that celebrate Blackness and humanity on a whole (because we can’t replace White Supremacy with Black Supremacy, instead we replace it with humanity, because we ain’t evil like them.)
So for this Black History Month 2018, let’s move from identifying oppression to creating and honoring spaces, curriculum, experiences of liberation and celebration of Blackness.
And we will be here with you all month long doing the same because #IssaCelebration.