Let’s explore the issue of indoctrination as it relates to Black history and our existence in America. If you agree that we always have been, and continue to be indoctrinated, then what? Is it okay? Do we continue to accept it? Is it a cause for action?
Indoctrination is embedded in our society in so many ways (politics, religion, education, etc.). At this time I would like to explore the educational system. In doing so, I have started conversations with Black children at various grade levels (elementary, middle and high school). The most interesting, heartfelt and even moments of humor were the conversations elementary school children. I think it is because of the innocence that still exists within these young Black children, and their lack of awareness of indoctrination. I start the conversation with three basic questions, and a sample of answers as follows:
- What do you know about slavery?
- Answers: “When white people did not like us,” “When white people owned us,” “When white people were mean to Black people”
- How do you know about slavery?
- Answer: “From school.”
- What do you know about Africa?
- Answers: “Nothing.”, “I don’t know.”
So, the indoctrination starts. Black children go home from school, and says to their parents “mommy, daddy, white people used to own us.” White children go home with “mommy, daddy we used to own Black people.” While intended or unintended, the message is that American slavery is the beginning of Black people, born into a society that we are less than others.
I visited the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) website (division/programs, division of curriculum, social studies, state standards and frameworks in social studies). This is where you find the MSDE framework for civics, people of the nations and world, geography, economics, history and skills & processes. The framework is for every grade level, pre-K through high school. While MSDE establishes the framework, the individual schools/principals determine how the framework will be implemented. What was interesting is that I never saw Africa mentioned until the 6th and 7th grade frameworks. What does this mean? It is very probable that Black children can go through seven years of structured education, and learned extensively about slavery, and learn nothing about Africa. This is a shame.
One only needs to pick up an encyclopedia and read about Ancient Egypt. You will learn that Egypt is one of the first civilizations in world history, around 5,000 B.C.E., a country of Black people. You will find that Black people created the first form of a national government, created the 365-day calendar and constructed the Sphinx and the pyramids. In his book Stolen Legacy, George G.M. James writes about the Egyptian Mystery System. Knowledge obtained by Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle came from the Egyptian Mystery System, as taught by Egyptian Priests. Egypt is not the first African country rich with the history of empires and civilizations. I think the point is obvious. Black existence did not start with American slavery. Black existence started as creators of technologies and philosophies that are utilized in the world today.
Starting in school, and throughout our lifetime in America we have and will continue to learn about our existence in America. That learning and existence embodies the depths of slavery, our fight for freedom and our struggle for civil rights and equality.
You may ask, how is this indoctrination? It is indoctrination because we were brought to this country as chattel (property, less than human). We continue to learn about, and struggle with the history of American slavery, which means we have accepted slavery as our beginning. This education has lasted for more than 400 years.
I am not saying that we should not struggle for progress. It is an issue of the “mind set” of our approach toward progress. “Oh, I was once a slave, and I am still struggling to get some justice and equality” is a different mind set than “We are the descendants African nations that created civilizations, and we need to reclaim our greatness.” The difference is that our journey of prosperity is promoted by strength, not weakness.
Our indoctrinated education that promotes coming from “less than” other cultures and ethnic groups is embedded in this society. Our education of African history is a matter of interest for those of us who wish to take the journey. One day, our female children will learn that the President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson raped his chattel slave, Sally Hemings. But learning about the Amazon women soldiers that protected the kingdom of Dahomey will only happen as a matter of interest. This is a shame.
So, what is the conclusion of this writing? What is the call to action?
- Know that we are, and continue to be, indoctrinated.
- Have a conversation with a child about the three questions noted above.
- Take some time to digest the issue of indoctrination. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you agree or disagree. In any case, explore your thoughts and feelings about Black life in America, and how we move from “less than.”
This message is not meant to be an immediate cure, nor the only issue related to indoctrination. This message is about our journey. We may never live to see the impact of this writing. But I do know that today every Black 12th grader can tell you much more about American slavery, than they can about the greatness of our African history. If we invest in African education today at every grade level, maybe future 12th graders will embody a journey of greatness rather than a struggle from “less than.”
The Foundation is committed to relief of educational indoctrination. As such, we are committed to exploring African preschool books/resources available to parents and children, African books/resources available for every grade level (pre-k through high school) and strategies to implement African history in every stage of our Black African-American lives.
As part of our mission, we believe that moving forward is based on knowledge of our true history of greatness.
Peace and Blessings Always,