Between Russian hackers, wind technology, microbes in the gut, Puerto Rico’s bees (you know if bees go extinct we all die, right?) refugees crossing borders, numerous countries facing civil unrest (Venezuela, Catalonia, and Turkey to name a few) the pneumonic plague in Madagascar and California Wildfires…whew. We got lot’s of problems to solve!
So, I’m gonna just assume that y’all done dug into both parts of Jay Z aka Shawn Carter’s culture shifting interview on Tidal’s Rap Radar, in which he discusses the inspiration for his poignant and personal 13th studio album 4:44; an album that CREAD dug into for a whole week back when it dropped.
My biggest take away from the interview: We are the culture in its purest form.
That prior to integration Black people understood that the only people coming to save us, were ourselves. After integration, after losing control of our schools, our churches, and our businesses, we became totally and fully dependent on the same group of people who spent centuries enslaving us.
Now, the hardest thing for Diasporic people to do, is to build community. And I’d argue that the most resistant group of people to build a true community are Diasporic educators.
Getting a group of Black educators to physically show up to a physical location and join forces in order to work towards the liberation of black folks…without receiving per session for it or even worse, if they have to pay…oh my…this is probably one of the biggest challenges facing CREAD as we plan out our Professional Development and Networking calendar for the upcoming school year.
Do you understand why I feel such a great sense of shame, now?
I never learned about Mama Bethune in my K-12 education. I hadn’t even learned about her in my college education and that’s three degrees worth of college education. Of course I had heard her name, but, I mean, I could identify her name. That’s it. I knew she was a Black Woman.
I spent so much of my career as a teacher being afraid to do what’s right for my students. I mean, I did the damn thing, thank goodness for my great principals, especially Ms. Tira Randall. But I always felt like I was being extra and I was annoying all my colleagues because I wanted to do something revolutionary.
And lastly, I battle with shame because I have big ideas for the future of education for Diasporic people and I’m constantly having to talk myself out of talking myself out of doing what I believe is true and necessary. And this woman, born of former slaves, 10 years out of slavery did all of the above.
I want to ask you a question: Are you free, are you free enough, to be free?
I’m talking more than just the financial freedom that we all strive for every day of our lives, but actual freedom. The freedom that has somehow eluded us since the end of slavery in America, through reconstruction, from Jim Crow and segregation, through the Civil Rights movement, and even through 8 years of an Obama presidency.
Rewind to July of 2013. I went out to eat with one of my best friends and we discussed the Trayvon Martin murder, the devastating verdict and all the ways in which black males are suspected, criminalized and executed in this country, all in a matter of seconds. He agreed immediately when I said that my biggest fear (besides cancer) was raising a black son in this country. I said that I would be devastated and during dinner, I proceeded to word-vomit all of the ways I would have to teach my hypothetical son to navigate a dangerous world that didn’t see him unless it saw him as a threat.
This weekend I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to Dr. Boyce Watkins and Dr. Claud Anderson and Dr. France Cress Welsing and I began re-reading Carter G. Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro
WARNING: If you attempt to engage in all of the above texts at the same time: DO NOT DO IT. You will be left overwhelmed and confused. Drive slow homie.