As we end February, this Black History Month, what would happen if you didn’t tell your black child about the trials and tribulations of the Black experience? What if you didn’t tell your child about the bad experience of slavery, about the inequality Black Americans have endured. What if you didn’t tell your children about Jim Crow and the horrific experiences of the South, like lynching and racial prejudices and riding the back of the bus and not being able to participate in the American process because of skin color? Suppose you didn’t tell your children about how Blacks have had to fight for basic American rights. Suppose you didn’t tell your children about the Black struggles and the first career breakthroughs. Are these things we should remember, or should we forget? How do we shift from the negative to the positive?
Would our children be better off with a clean slate? Do we disturb young minds with the downtrodden experiences of blackness as we tell them of our history? What do we say to the white child about Black history? Do we care? Are their minds fresh to move forward or are they burdened with a handicap? These are questions I ask this year as we consider the best picture of the year being the true story of 12 Years a Slave. The movie was upsetting to me. Why? It was just a bit too damn real, the history book came alive. My psychic was disturbed watching the slave girl beaten unmercifully over a scrap of soap. I have vowed not to see another slave movie because of it. What did we endure and why? Life was far too, too, too hard. I don’t want to embrace the fullness of that American experience. Let it go. And then I wonder how and why still in 2014 we celebrate and will probably award the untold slave story. I don’t want to see any more Beloved type stories. They are too painful. They evoke emotions of anger and sadness. Slavery is America’s crime.
What do we do as we discuss these actions with our children. Do we help them or do we hinder them? What is the Black History Month message? Do we explain inferiority? Do we explain superiority? Do we say contain and maintain your anger or do we say express it? Redefining?
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