A fellow WordPress blogger, Blackmail4u, wrote in a recent post that we must ’embarrass inequity’ to bring forth change. So here we are. On this date, April 4, 1968, fifty years ago, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Sounds redundant? Old hat? Common knowledge? No, no and no! On this date April 4, 2018, little school children, still being taught in racially segregated schools, have no clue. Can they just buy a vowel, teachers?
Sure, once each year, the schools across this nation talk briefly about who King was. They even celebrate his life or his death. But what about his work? In today’s classroom, decades after Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling on ‘separate but equal’ bulls.it, schools are still no different than at that time, and we frowned at apartheid.
Still segregated and still teaching little impressionable children from ‘updated’ textbooks which contain the same gloss-over coverage of King. Countless other important black figures in OUR U.S. history are omitted completely. Even the updates need updating. It is embarrassing to ask a child, white or black to discuss the 5 W’s of King’s final day. Not one can tell us where he was, why he was there or who actually assassinated him. They learn only of the Bus Boycott. That’s it. That is shameful of us as adults and worse yet, those who call themselves professional educators-people who stand in classrooms at all grade levels. Shame.
Each year now, since Dr King was given a holiday, millions of school children, given that day off, don’t know why they are celebrating a man who from year to year, continues to be a mysterious figure to them. Still footnotes in textbooks, today? If we can’t fully discuss, teach and explain to children the significance of this man, perhaps the most famous black name in our history, it stands to reason why race relations are as they are. We certainly have far to go before any hint of a dream is realized.
We expound upon the fallacies surrounding the ‘founding’ of this nation, and are still selective in which people and events are palatable or align with the ‘story’ that we all are supposed to learn. We still gloss over the indigenous populations and their stories, and there is another side to the stories we tell. We don’t even spark or encourage a child’s natural sense of curiosity in these regards.
How many teachers have or are actually looking around their classrooms and looking out into the world, social climate and with authentic belief and desire to ensure school success for the diverse faces they see and decide that enough is enough? Boycott the textbooks given to district, individual schools. The powers that be want teachers to think that they have no power to change the curriculum, choice of resources and materials that they are expected to guide instruction. The way I see the numbers, there are collectively more minority children enrolled in public schools than white. Collectively, there are more teaching staff tham administrative. But, you still believe you are powerless to effect changes. YOU ARE THE CHANGES. That’s your job.
Unions will not support your refusals? Partnering with the voices of parents whose children you teach doubles your impact. By nature of being an educator, a teacher, a parent, you ARE change. You change children’s lives from any location. That’s your job.
Providing children with information that perhaps was withheld from you is how lives change…for the better. That’s your job. With any limited amount of knowledge about history, human beings, child development, and assuming that fully developed mature adults possess those critical thinking skills that you deem are immensely important to maturation processes, it is not rocket science. You know that by virtue of standing before children at least 5 days per week for nine or more moths each year, you are doing more harm than good. You should know better than to withhold that which was withheld from you. It doesn’t end well.
It still astounds and boggles the mind that all children can tell you about every famous or not so famous white person who may have only been a dishwasher in our history. We are fully aware that they weren’t the only race or group alive at the times we teach about. We teach about Thomas Edison, but we don’t talk about or try to find out who was his ‘assistant’ at the time of discovery. Do we even consider the remote possibility that it may have been a black man who developed the electric light bulb, but Edison received the glory. As if that has never happened in our history. It was habitual.
It would be utterly amazing to consider that not one teacher has ever gone home at night and entertained the thought utilize critical thinking, reasoning and logical thinking to say, “I wonder….”As self-reported life-long learners, educators are either lying to themselves, their students or are plainly said, robots of the ‘machine’. There’s also another explanation. Educators don’t really care about their students’ development, the whole child, their futures or their sense of self-worth and value.
Blacks in this country were stripped of all that defined them, and many still don’t know their origins. They definitely aren’t learning to love themselves, feel they belong in learning settings, and that all blacks weren’t and aren’t the narratives . Implicit and explicit, we are not doing your jobs, and changing the narrative IS your job.
Without a doubt in my mind, there are wonderful teachers out there, and history will thank you for what you do in your classrooms. But, unfortunately, you are too far and too in between to effect the kinds of changes this country needs to survive. Right now, we are slowly imploding. Dr. King said that, what troublesome is those ‘brothers and sisters’ who stand by, remain silent and do nothing at times when the boat needs to be rocked. To get back on course, or to first get aligned with the Constitution’ that document we do not wish to re-write, we must all rock the boat. Teach as though your lives depend on it. Go where no one has gone before. That’s your job.
Fifty years later, MLK has been reduced to soundbites, never truly understood. He gave America a message, and a warning. It doesn’t matter whether we arrived on different ships, we’re all in the same boat. That’s WHY WE CAN’T WAIT! It’s your job.