Today I carry no title other than human being. Yes, I am a proud Black woman and a mom but I am still mentally reeling from and dealing with so many tentacles of raw emotion from my visit last week to the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. They represent America’s first national memorial dedicated to victims of racial terror lynching and a new museum dedicated to slavery and its legacy, lest we forget.
I remain mentally and emotionally charged from reading and “feeling” the many first hand accounts of the anguish of the Black mother during the era of slavery and segregation, of having her children snatched from her arms solely to fulfill another man or woman’s desire for lust, greed and hate.
As a result, I feel compelled to start off with a disclaimer quote to all the people, Black and White, who are silent and turn a blind eye to human suffering and oppression of others, particularly Black and vulnerable children.
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. –Frederick Douglass
Lest we forget, Black history is American history
I get it and the status quo gets it too. Literacy equals liberation.
As a Black mom, the more I learn about the educational system in America, the more I realize the extreme lengths the “existing structure” or status quo will go to keep Black parents and their children from accessing the necessary information and opportunity needed to access the promise of democracy. We strive to become self-sufficient, independent thinking and productive citizens but not everybody supports us in that quest.
Then and Now
There is a reason that southern plantation owners did everything they could, even post slavery during the reconstruction era, to keep books out of the hands of black families. White folks knew that in order to maintain their lavish lifestyle and position of power, it was imperative that Blacks never learn to read. Any access to information via the written word would spell big trouble for their racist way of life and so began the still common phenomenon of information and opportunity hoarding.
Now fast forward 100 hundred years to the Civil Rights era of 1954 to 1968. Black parents still had to fight for their children to be justly educated because, once again, white families hoarded the access to good information about educational opportunities that could lead to self sufficiency and success. This is precisely why Oliver Brown, a Black father, pastor and welder was the plaintiff in the 1954 US Supreme Court case Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, which declared unconstitutional any state laws establishing separate public schools for Black and white students.
Upon further reflection, I realize there isn’t much said in America’s history books about what happened to the thousands of black teachers that once taught in these segregated schools of the civil rights era. And there lies the very clear unintended—or intended consequences—one’s perspective often depends on what generation of folks you ask – of Brown v Board of Education
This Ebony article entitled Sixty Years After Brown V. Board, Black Teachers Are Disappearing—Again speaks to the plight of the black teacher.
With the Brown case pending, Black teachers waited anxiously for the ruling on school segregation, with thoughts fixed firmly on their Black students. Would the case solve the wide racial disparities in facilities, funding and resources? Would Black students’ sense of ethnic identity and cultural solidarity suffer from desegregation? And lingering in the back of Black teachers’ minds: Would they be the collateral damage in the battle to integrate schools?
If truth be told about the Brown case, it wasn’t just the fact that whites and Blacks were educated in separate schools during the civil rights era, because we have had and still have majority Black schools successfully educating Black children. It was the lack of equal access to the resources necessary to ensure a quality education in urban districts as compared to the abundant resources in white suburban areas.
That is why I can relate to the words of civil rights activist James Meredith.
If black people use their resources properly, they can become as competitive as any group in society – take control of our neighborhoods, our businesses, our schools, including our teachers. The only thing keeping black people from doing it is this idiotic idea about integration, about being racially balanced. –James Meredith
Now today, 64 years later, post Brown v Board of Education, Black parents are still fighting just as hard for their children to be justly educated. The status quo—aka information and opportunity hoarders—are doubling down on their efforts to ensure Black parents and their children are still denied, as much as humanly possible, access to the good information needed to gain access to the resources and the educational opportunities needed to live self sufficient lives while also having the ability to compete in the local and global market.
Do you remember Kelley Williams – Bolar, the Black Ohio mom arrested and convicted for sending her two daughters to school just a few blocks away to where her father owned a home, paid taxes and lived? There was only one reason for her choice to do that: she wanted a safe and quality education for her children.
Do you remember Kiarre Harris, the Black New York mom who was arrested and had her elementary school aged children taken away and put in foster care for several weeks because she notified the school district that she had chosen to homeschool. Why?
These are clear examples, throughout history and still today, about how far the status quo will go to deny Black parents access to their unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. By blocking access to information, hoarding resources and opportunities, and telling us, again and again, that our Black children can’t learn and succeed in life unless they sit beside white children in the classroom.
Let us be very clear as Black parents. The status quo has left no doubt about where they stand when it comes the safety, education and overall well-being of Black children – our babies are not seen as human beings therefore there lives do not matter!
So now it’s time for us as Black parents and human beings to stand, embrace our Black history because it is American history.
We, as a nation, must learn from history so as to not repeat the horrors of black human suffrage of the past.
And as for this Black mom, I am unapologetic in the fight for children rights, as a whole, because the whole child matters and where they live and their heritage does too! .
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole. Malcolm X