Ride through black neighborhoods as kids are coming home from school, and you’ll see that so many of them have no books.
Check out the local library computer room, and you’ll see that most black kids are playing computer games or watching and listening to rap videos.
Too many inner-city black kids have no homework and no structure after school. Supervision comes later, around dinner time, after which there’s entertainment via TV, video games, telephones, more play time, or just hanging out until bed time.
Educational tyranny is a two-headed monster that is gobbling up the future of black America in a stratified “democracy.” One head is the tyranny of separate and unequal despite and in spite of the supreme law of the land. The other head is a self-imposed tyranny, a quasi-fratricidal disposition of black people brought about by historically induced self loathing.
The shame of it all is that black people accept failing, ill-equipped public schools and underachieving black children as normal, as what black people are supposed to have, and maybe are even ordained to have. The deafening silence of the black church gives great credence to acceptance of such a fate.
Until black communities in America come to terms with the reality that blocks and neighborhoods have to become families, that all the children are ours, that schools, churches, parks and community centers belong to the people, we will not be able to organize, build, and progress. Black people can no longer suffer educational tyranny in virtual silence.
I remember years ago visiting my Chinese high school classmates in New York’s Chinatown. Their parents were very traditional, uneducated people who spoke very little English. They lived in small apartments with essentials. My friends were very disciplined and studied hard. Naturally, they did very well in school.
We all did well, my Jewish, black, white, Asian and Indian classmates, because we were all disciplined, and there was never a thought of failing. We were conditioned to do homework because we got it all the time. And we got a lot of pop quizzes. Our teachers had great expertise, and were always helpful. We respected their knowledge.
But by the time my two children started public school, the quality had begun to crumble. My wife became PTA president, but we soon recognized that the politics of containment from downtown and the mass passivity of Harlem residents dictated that we’d better get out of dodge. So we paid both taxes for public education and private school tuition. Both kids got college scholarships and degrees.
Little by little, integrated education basically shut down in New York and other northern cities, thanks to zoning and district tricks and specialized schools. Soon, the whole country had emulated vestiges of re-segregation in public school education while the NAACP, Urban League, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, black church organizations, black sororities and fraternities, ad infinitum, never coalesced to fight educational tyranny and save the children.
In the main, middle-class black leaders do not really identify with the black masses – with their economic, moral and cultural life. These black leaders have arrived in white middle-class society. They are not about the business of taking the rest of black America with them. In fact, for a long time, middle-class blacks have despised poor and near-poor blacks, and have rejected them.
Poor and near-poor blacks cannot get into white middle-class society, and black middle-class society is not open to them, either. The Nigerian researcher, Dr. E.U. Essien-Udom, wrote the widely hailed book, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America, which I am rereading for relevancy in terms of where we are in 2010 compared to 1964, when his book was published.
Let me leave you with a few words from Dr. Essien-Udom: “The vast majority of black Americans do not know how to liberate themselves. They look forward to that day when they will find themselves in the ‘promised land’ without making any effort to bring it about.”