“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history ~ Carter G. Woodson
My People perish for the lack of knowledge ~Hosea: 4:6
From the very first time I became aware of the jarring realities of the African American flight to the Caribbean, the America’s, Cuba & Haiti as slaves; I was angry, distraught, confused, astonished, baffled, and frantic at the nature of these communal breakdowns. Having been raised in the Apostolic faith I wasn’t exposed to the complexities and intellectual dimensions of the history and culture of a people who ran into a system of slavery that predated them thousands of years. It wasn’t enough for me to believe that somehow Africans were existing along the coasts of Africa, until Europeans decided that free labor would be the best course for American history. As Dr. Leonard Jeffries (Professor & Pan-Africanist) professed, “You can’t even understand blacks and the Atlantic slave trade unless you can see 1000 years of European slave trading”. The irony of this notion lies in the fact that leaders and learners of this new millennium must carry a sense of objectivity when it comes to educating the next generations.
In terms of educating black and brown youth its important to teach narratives that lends its hand at understanding certain phenomena throughout history. Before teaching a class on the African Atlantic Slave trade wouldn’t it suffice to explain that the term slavery came from the word “Slav” indicating Indo-European people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group? It would not only disconnect slavery from the cultural context of African reality but place it in its rightful position as a European Phenomenon. Although, Europeans enslaved their own people for thousands of years (Dark Ages, Feudalism, Crusades, etc.) which caused them to flee Europe is a narrative that lends it hand at reeducating the important of the Atlantic Slave trade. It’s obvious that when the Europeans encountered Africans on the coasts of Africa, they were already in slave mode.
The Re-education of these Open Voyages & Forthcoming Prodigies extends its hand at a cross-cultural, ethical, and spiritual mythos. Its premise operates on a question proposed by James Hollis in his book “The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife” which asks, “how do I arrive at a working knowledge of my true self?” James Hollis’ intention for this book reflects on addressing changes that takes place in the middle passages of life., and how one goes about redefining their views of life in relationship to oneself. In a similar lens I compare the “The Atlantic Slave Trade” to our middle passage, and dark night of the soul for which we had to grapple with the stains of sin, an oppressor’s war like mentality and the mis-education of our roles as God’s. We must shed light on the importance of the bible as a center for reconciliation. The political theologies of liberation must highlight the importance of blacks in biblical antiquity.
We as educators and leaders in the black community need to reconcile with the fact that 2020 is the portal of global significance. You have the Election, Olympics, the Corona Virus, global change and disruption, social media, black on black crime, the tethering of the stock markets, broken educational systems and a world that is ushering in information at the speed of light. Knowledge of self amid these changing paradigms becomes increasingly important. It’s hard to arrive at such knowledge of self (Black History); if there isn’t a teacher to deconstruct and reconstruct a new theology towards bringing our historical lens into a 21st century focus. Imhotep may not carry a great significance in today’s age if his life’s narrative can’t motivate individuals to put down the guns in Chicago.
Although, the information is present it must be recreated out of our own need for self-realization. The mental disease that permeates in the black mind due to the infiltration of a system that is void of cultural relevance for black culture; is something that can be overcome through a sheer willingness to collaborate on the ideas that helps us to tell our stories of tragedy & triumph. As I listen to different podcasts notably (David Banner, Black Agenda Radio and In Black America) I am reminded of the importance for exposing the black mind to different perspectives. The prospect of exposing one’s mind to new levels of truth outside of the paradigm for which we know to be true, is something that takes time and lots of courage, Our stories are very unique and require a bit of reeducation as to how we can inspire generations to come.
In Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s new book Thinking Outside the Building, “How advanced leaders can change the world one smart innovation at a time”, speaks to reeducating the black community in terms of crushing the establishment paradigm that pushes innovation to the graveyard. It’s more of a metaphor for creativity. In my opinion this book represents the importance of utilizing innovative ways to teach black history outside of Lynching, reconstruction, & mass incarceration. We must place America in the greater context of civilization. As a country that has been independently free for the last 244 years this is just a drop in the bucket of civilization as we know it. The history of America is minuscule in comparison to the Kingdoms blacks ran for thousands of years.
Although, we as African Americans have lost our cultural knowledge and traditions, there is still hope for the generations to come. We are beginning to re-imagine the door of no return and redirect the belief that we represent the opposite of intellectualism. Beliefs can be hard to change even when facts prove scientifically that Blacks maintained empires thousands of years before Greece and Rome was ever established. We are awakening slowly and the revolution as Gil Heron Scott pronounced will not be televised. There is an internal burning of the black soul that is lifting the African American mind into great prominence. Here we come.