In response to the HuffingtonPost live chat about white washing American youths minds, I realized how fortunate I was to grow up in New York City.
I grew up predominately in suburban New York City in Queens most of my life. I was fortunate as a youth to have two teachers who when teaching history did not focus solely on the “White” story of America. Guess what? They weren’t white teachers.
I fully learned the black experience in America from my 7th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Green. Mr. Green introduced my class to Roots. The story of an African, who was stolen from his homeland. Poor Kunta was dragged across an ocean, chained, beaten, starved, and soled like an animal and forced to acknowledge his White name Toby. Although this wasn’t the first time I heard this story, my mother had taken me to several museums and told me many stories about slavery, and I witnessed sharecropping first hand as a youth, this was the first time I could see the story in live action and have a connection to it.
When we learned about history I was told by Mr. Green, and the following year by another black male teacher—whose name escapes me, that history was just that HIS-story. The HIS in reference was a white man predominately, and we must search for the truth behind what is being given.
That lead me on a journey of self exploration to find out what my root really were. What my story was and how that was included in the fabric of Americana. I became engrossed in History, always seeking the truth and wanting to learn how faces like mine were affected and never settling on just the white face of the story.
In High School, in AP English Literature, I was introduced to Shakespears the Tempest and through heavy conversations we debated the possibility of Caliban actually being black and what impact his race would have on the play and why would it not be acceptable to have an openly black character in the play. We read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and learned that Blacks also wrote books and were literate and played a role in literary society. My AP English Literature class did not solely focus on “great white writers” but the others, and how a writer told a story. It was the first time, I read something in school where there were faces like mine.
I was fortunate that a foundation had been laid. When I went to college and decided to be a History student, a seeker of truth I uncovered many new discoveries about my people, how they have been historically erased along with their contributions. However I learned this in a liberal state, in liberal schools, with liberal teachers and professors.
As a teacher, I was disheartened my first year in the classroom to hear a student tell me he was better off being a slave, because at least the basic needs of life were provided for him. I took it upon myself to carry the mantle that had been given me. To show my students that life is not all what they have shown in the history books. That the story presented is just that—-a story, a HIStory. I have always taught history in a non-lineal fashion and asked the students how they see the cyclical continuations of injustice in present day America. Whether it be child labor, civil injustice, fights for liberation, or states rights arguments we need to think clearly and present the open honest facts to our children. Not teach them about their culture solely one month a year (the shortest one). Or teach them that they need a savior i.e Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X in order to have and obtain justice.
Now that I am living in the South, I will be more diligent as a parent to ensure my son grows up proud of his ethnicity, his otherness and know the advantage of overcoming adversity. He will know that there were and are great everything’s that share his color—his background. He will know that he was born in a country that his historically tried to derail his pursuit of happiness, but that with hard work, tenacity, and armed with the truth NOTHING can hold you back.
I was on a mission to find the answer to a question about my son touching his “buddy” when I came along post after post about parents befuddled about getting their four or five year old to use the potty.
I must say that I was shocked.
With many parents debating about attachment parenting verses “detachment” parent, my natural response is “How about basic parenting?”
If you sit you’re child on the potty, and teach them from an early age that they have no CHOICE but to do what you say, than many of these basic problems wont be had.
I started sitting my child on the potty at 6 months. That’s him right there—
Took a while for him to get used to it, but by a years time, he was using the potty habitually and rarely making night time mistakes. At a few weeks before four years old, I proudly return the same “just in case” clothes to Pre-k because he KNOWS to use the bathroom, that anything else is not an option.
It all starts from the beginning and it starts from home.