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African American History 101: Self-Assessment Awakening

I do agree that we are #BETTER2GETHER, and that it will take the collective unity of ALL races and creeds of humanity for us to reverse the course of the pandemic/humanitarian crisis…RACISM. It is time for us all to decide how we want to be remembered. What side of history will we each be on? Will a self-awakening come too late before some sort of reckoning in each of our lives? Let’s teach, share, learn more. I'm doing just that....below artwork was created by me and my daughter (Click Play for effects). My 8 year old is also learning more about the African American History not taught in school while serving as my little BLOG editor.

If your skin is brown, and you are of African American descent, I am sure you too are regularly being asked this question lately by white people of “What can I do to Change things or Make them Better?”. I do truly think it is a genuine question by many, but one that lacks effort and places limitations on the answer because the issue is so broad….so wide….so ancient and yet current….so systemic and systematic, it is unnerving. I must say, it is possible that something that has simply been labeled as “a natural way of life”, whether racist, racially biased, unfair, unjust, and a whole lot of other negative adjectives, can truly be missed by those on the “grandfathered into privilege” side of things. I will share this though, history and fate will not let off the hook those who know better and have always known better, but refuse to do better as long as they are on the upside of things AND as long as those on the receiving end of the inhumane treatment are civilized/quiet. Remember slaves could not assemble and talk, so they sang in the fields. Knowledge is power…knowledge is liberty…knowledge is freedom whether it is also downplayed based on race or not. Regardless of those who actually choose to stay in the dark and utter the words that they “do NOT believe systemic nor systematic racism exists” in a very out of touch attempt to blow the African American race off and downplay as if the abused are being overly sensitive and dramatic for no reason. SILENCE IS SIMPLY NO LONGER AN OPTION. “We, the people” can speak up in many different ways such as flooding our ELECTED officials (i.e. Mayor, Governor, Congressional Rep. and lawmakers) offices with emails, letters, and phone calls expressing concerns and the need for change. Racist laws are the biggest donor of support towards centuries of oppression that must end now because they bleed into every area of the life and livelihoods of the oppressed.

So, I was talking with one of my sisters, and we began to share the exhaustion that comes with being made to feel as though “we as a people” must teach a course on African American History 101….facilitate a How White People Can Help seminar…..and/or rewrite our graduate/doctorate level dissertations with a new topic of Reparations, to bring the privileged in society up to speed on the fact that they were born into privilege and benefit from it in all facets of day to day life, where other races and cultures (mainly those of African American descent) do NOT. The real truth for many African Americans is that we are all way too busy each day waking up as black/brown people in prayer that we and our family members make it through our days. There is no time to also be required to teach people to be decent and treat us like the human beings we are. It is an accepted practice to ask that if there is an issue, one should not only present the issue but couple it with a solution. I get that; however, it is simply inhumane to have centuries of an issue and yet attempt to systematically place the oppressed on a hamster wheel of rejection when solutions and options were sang in the fields by enslaved ancestors and moaned as last words before the lynching of many who attempted to escape; solutions and options were marched on Washington and all across the country in the 60s before many of us younger groups were born; solutions and options were provided by college students in 1966 organized the Black Panther movement for black racial equality; solutions and options are on in the last words of African American men and women currently being brutalized and slaughtered on the streets (we the African American people also pay for) in astronomical numbers by the police or white citizens who have it twisted as if brown bodies are ripe for the killing; and solutions and options are again currently being marched down our American streets by people of every race/creed/gender. It takes widespread cognitive challenges for any human being NOT to clearly comprehend the solutions and options screamed for the past 401-years, beginning with the first African placed in enslavement chains and torn away from the land they knew for a land unknown, only to have ancestors today who still greatly suffer the stains and residue while disconnected from original cultures of royalty stolen. The oppressed have long been forced and are still to function in a normalized fight or flight traumatic state on a daily basis in knowing the dangers and systemic issues that plague at any given time due simply to the skin color. Further, made to feel as though African Americans think ALL white people are guilty of the greatest sin of our nation….slavery and the resultant systemic & systematic racism. Such is amongst collective untruths; however, individuals who choose to support, pass on the generational ideals of, and perpetuate ongoing institutions of racism are (in my personal opinion) operating/buying-in and therefore guilty of that same original sin.

So, some might ask well how am I operating/buying into such a thing? I am a good Christian and I do not agree with those horrific acts of my white ancestors and I don’t teach my children to see color and treat others differently. My response is one to provoke thought so that people can answer their own questions that fall into that realm and then hopefully take action towards change and future mitigation. Why are white people so uniformed or portray to be so uninformed when it comes to the truth of African American History? Could it be because it is a portion of history that is NOT taught as an actual “Required Curriculum” portion of American History in public schools? Why is it not taught in school as a part of the required American History curriculum? I, personally have actually taken it upon myself to pose this question within the school district of my child’s public school because I am an American and taxpayer. Further, I have taken it upon myself to also write my Congressional Representative in regards. What steps are you willing to take in attempt to ensure equal justice and equality for our children and generations to come? Regardless of your views, should any of our children and their grandchildren have to walk these same roads as we are and have already for centuries? If they do, then we are yet another generation in history who has failed them.

African American History being made a part of the required American History curriculum could assist with curtailing and mitigating the generational divides being passed on. It would also remove the pathway of opportunity for the African American race to be consistently devalued from an early age amongst children. Why is African American history and any truths of non-white American History not just as important within the required curriculums taught in the public school systems? Why are definitions of institutional bias and white privilege not taught within that history as it relates to the racism that still exists today which are counter to ALL people being created equal? Children do what they are taught, and at an early age they are silently being taught separation, white privilege as the acceptable norm, black/brown inferiority and devaluing as the norm. Children in public school systems get a few worksheets or a project during the month of February each year to learn about the same few (mostly deceased) African Americans, who are now labeled as Great Americans but were assassinated or worn down through a hard life of fighting for the same freedoms still not fully obtained today. There is a plethora of African Americans who have accomplished and are still accomplishing great things who are still in the land of the living. The opportunities for “required” fully inclusive curriculums of African American history to be developed and brought alive in today’s classrooms in support of healthy movement through this new decade within the 21st century is endless. A reimagining of American History is well overdue.

This written self-assessment seminar is created for (1) African American people who themselves carry intra-racial biases that has you peculiarly skewed and at odds with yourself and those of your own race; (2) those who want to assist white friends and/or family members with a better understanding; and (3) for white people who have asked or are not quite sure of how to ask your African American friends or associates to teach you what you can do to help during this time of civil unrest. The biggest thing is to take the initiative to educate yourselves for the right reasons. It is understood that many are in need of African American History 101 on why Black Lives Matter. It does not mean white lives or others do not matter, but that there are none whose mere existence and worth is in question beyond Black Lives.

To benefit from this short seminar, stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself these questions in private and conduct a brutally honest self-assessment as you do so:

1. Is merely reading this BLOG uncomfortable for me?

2. Am I uncomfortable/disgusted/irritated if the subject of race is even discussed in my presence? If yes to either question #1 or #2, you should then assess why. Resolution to anything is impossible without recognizing and accepting it as a problem.

3. Have I ever noticed or taken issue with African American History or any other non-white portion of history not being taught in public schools as a rightful part of American History?

4. Do I / would I take issue with other non-white portions of American History being taught to my children/all children as a part of their required public school curriculum?

5. Do I lock my doors when a African American person walks by my car, but I don’t have the same reaction when a white person walks past me? Why? Studies and history show that most serial killers and mass shooters are actually not African American. Criminals come in all races.

6. Have I ever seen an African American person with anything of value that rightly belonged to them, and taken issue with it? Was my next thought of envy and how did they get that as if they had to have stolen it and did not deserve it?

7. When an African American was chosen for a promotion I competed for on my job (if it has every actually happened to you), did I feel differently than if another white person had been chosen?

8. Have I ever gone out of my way in the workplace to defame an African American / non-white person to superiors in the workplace without reason beyond inciting bias to ultimately black ball them? Did you feel entitled to do so, why?

9. Have I ever implicitly taken part in the defamation of an African American / non-white person behind closed doors with colleagues, family, friends, like-minded individuals without reason beyond inciting bias to ultimately black ball them? Did you feel entitled to do so, why?

10. How do you refer to African Americans / non-white individuals in the privacy of your home and the company of your core groups?

11. Have you ever been fully aware of being handed an unfair advantage over an African American / non-white individual behind closed doors and was accepting of the privileged positioning, information, advantage/hand-up without speaking up on how wrong and unfair it is to others?

12. Regardless of your race, if you are positioned or ever have been positioned to hire and fire individuals, have you ever treated African American / non-white employees worse than white employees?

Note: I ask question #12 regardless of race because from personal experience, and research in talking with non-white professionals of varying race/nationality (especially African American) there is an expectation for implicit biases to be upheld and carried out as a “silent job requirement” for many non-white managers’ success within the few top tier/management roles for which they are hired in various career fields. Many have shared in stories of having held management positions where they were consistently placed into situations of having to make choices between carrying out unfair biased treatment towards specifically African American and/or mixed race descent individuals, -OR- taking a stand to operate in fair treatment across the board for all employees which is against what superiors supported and desired to be carried out. When these biases were not accepted and acted upon as some sort of initiation or test, the shared experiences were that the individuals were unfairly targeted, black balled, set-up, removed or pressured out of management positions, etc. It is too widespread to be coincidental when speaking with and observing white managerial experiences versus non-white managerial experiences in various workplaces. Further, many things I have also experienced and seen first-hand for myself; therefore, I could not dispute or challenge the other shared views that mirrored some of my own as merely coincidental.

13. Now, when you look around the board room tables within your company, the company you work for, partner with, and patronize, what do you see?

a. Do you see either ALL white people who look like you?

b. Do you see majority white people who look like you, with one or maybe two black executives?

c. When you think of socio-economics in those same companies as pertaining to hiring, what does the statistical data show?

i. Does the data show that white men hold majority of top tiered executive positions?

ii. Does the data show that white women hold the 2nd highest numbers of top tiered executive positions?

iii. Does the data show that Asian Pacific, and ‘other than’ African Americans hold the 3rd highest numbers of top tiered executive positions?

iv. Does the data show that African American men hold the 4th highest numbers of remaining top tiered executive positions in minimal (one/two count) numbers?

1. Known to mostly be hired if the hiring official is a white female.

v. Lastly, does the data show that African American women hold the 5th highest numbers of remaining top tiered executive positions in minimal (one/two) numbers?

1. Known to mostly be hired if the hiring official is a white male.

I hope this African American History 101 – Self Assessment BLOG has been of some help to you. If perhaps you still don’t quite get what you can do, know that elevating your consciousness within the areas of questions posed is a great start. Further, at least assess the brutally honest answers that would not be so appealing if you were forced to walk around with them openly posted on your clothing daily for all to see. Or, if you died today and had to give an account to Jesus Christ (if you believe) for your complicit or implicit participation in the mistreatment of those who do not look like you whom He deems as your brothers and sisters. If you are white and are angry, sad, mad, ashamed, or for some even proud of your answers to this assessment, then it is proven to have helped you see your reflection (beautiful, promising, or ugly) in some way which is a good thing. Now it is up to you to figure out what to do with yourself. When you know better, you do better.

Personally, my plan is to push towards the other side of this pandemic and 401-year old humanitarian crisis with a determination to be better, and to hopefully initiate enough tough conversations for others to do the same. God purposely has us all to bleed red, with no personally identifiable information of who we are without testing conducted on the blood. When a loved one’s on their death bed and a transfusion will make the difference between life and death, will you refuse the blood donated to save your loved one because it may be blood donated by an African American / non-white individual?

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