(ThyBlackMan.com) I recently had an interesting exchange with my best friend, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, regarding where he and his wife were planning to send their four-year-old daughter to attend kindergarten. As to be expected, the educational process in New York City is far different from anything that I have ever experienced. Apparently, admittance to even this initial educational step is a no-hold barred gladiator sport filled with politics, back-biting and copious amounts of bigotry in this incredibly ethnically diverse, yet racially segregated city.
After weighing their options, the aforementioned doting black parents decided to forego an invitation to a prestigious white institution in favor of an all-black girls school. I am confident that you understand that their choice, rather their decision-making process and evaluation criterion piqued my interest. Now please do not consider my inquiring as a sign that I am questioning why they chose a marginally ranked educational institution over one that data indicates is vastly superior and nearly impossible to gain entrance into, rather, I was curious why they ultimately decided on one school versus another.
When posed with this query, I learned that their primary focus in their decision-making pivoted along what they desired to see as a finished product. These doting parents reasoned that the all-black educational institution, although much less “prestigious”, would allow their child to continue their growth as a highly-energetic and inquisitive child possessing the personality traits of her straight-talking strong black mother and often-times anti-social traits of her brash father. I was not shocked when I heard the following explanation regarding why one institution was chosen over another.
We didn’t want to put her in a situation where she was the only black child, which she would have been in one school. Additionally, as an educator, I realize that for far too many black children the educational process is a traumatic experience. As a teacher myself, I have watched many of my colleagues seek to break the spirit of black children under the guise that they are teaching them how to make it in America; a sophisticated way of saying that they are going to do their best to indoctrinate these black children with their white worldviews.
Although I would never be able to pinpoint the moment that I began suspecting that the entire educational experience pivoted along blurry ideological lines that sought to achieve a particular goal, one thing is certain, my position as an educator for the past two decades has convinced me of this fact. Far too many educators evaluate their worth by their success or failure in forcing African-American children to adopt their worldview and cultural formations, matters that are extremely distant from laudable goals such as teaching students how to analyze situations, evaluate their own interests, and then execute a definitive action that serves their best interests.
In many ways, the decision to chose an all-black girl’s school over a prestigious white educational institution relates many things regarding doting parents desire to protect their child from a hostile world that has displayed an insatiable desire to mold black children into an entity that is unrecognizable to even their parents.
I am confident that those involved in the independent black school movement celebrate each time black parents make the decision to entrust the development of their child’s mind to them over a more celebrated white expression of education. Unfortunately for black educators, such decisions are not routinely made from a position of running to the voluminous benefits that one finds within black educational institutions, rather they result from Black America fleeing the damaging aspects of white educational institutions that often leave black children spiritually broken and mentally disheveled at an unconscionable level.
Although I would love to say that it does not matter the process that black parents go through regarding where their child will be educated, I realize that it does make a difference regarding if they are running away from the damaging elements of white educational institutions or running toward the positive elements of a black educational institution. I guess that when one considers the damage and trauma that black children have received as a result of their engagement with white educational institutions and the educators that they employ, that it matters little if black parents are running from or running to something, it only matters that they are running to place their child in a less traumatic situation aimed at simultaneously avoiding the damaging effects of indoctrination and demands for conformity and seeking a safe spot for them to flourish into the unique being that they were designed to be.
I guess that when you really think about it, black folk have been running during their entire existence on the North American continent and if I ventured to guess, I would say that we shouldn’t expect that to ever change.
Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III
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