Helping Black Students Shine

by on November 30, 2020 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, Education, From the Soul


by Ernie McCray

Lately I’ve been thinking of Black kids, Black students, specifically. Thinking of all the teachable moments out in the universe that I would call on to help them shine if I were in the classroom during these times.

And the first thought that came to mind is I would turn them on to what it means to be Black at this very time.

We’d talk about what we’d all just seen this past NBA season, superstars flying through the air slamming monstrous dunks and shooting rainbow 3’s with “Black Lives Matter” sewn into their jerseys.

We’d talk about the significance embedded in a Black woman taking on the role of Vice-president of the United States, the first of her gender to serve in such a capacity.

We’d talk about how Black voters showed up in large numbers, essentially rescuing a drowning democracy.

All to get them to look at themselves and think of how and where they fit in the scheme of things.

And I’d dive right in there with them as a co-learner, for sure, as we, in our studies, embrace our Blackness and continue the process of overcoming the systemic anti-Blackness colonialism that has plagued our journey for centuries.

I can see us looking into how expressions like “Eeenie meenie miney mo” or call “a spade a spade” or the “black sheep of the family” got popularized; how Black music came to be seen as “urban,” in reference to “thug life” in so many White people’s eyes.

I’d want to know if they had ever been told how “articulate” they are just because they speak grammatically?

We’d wade in the water of other cultures to get more of a sense of who we are, seeing that Native people lost lives to genocide, that Mexicans suddenly became Mexican Americans as some western states were once in Mexico, a situation “where the border,” as they say, “crossed them.” We’d see that we’re, in spirit, and in the darkness of our skin, aligned with them.

We’d dig into how the Filipinos first arrived and how they later came as military recruits and military wives; how Chinese people came to escape chaos in their country, trying their luck in the California Gold Rush, laying down train tracks and ties for hundreds of miles…

We’d cover the hardships White immigrants faced, how some, like us, were indentured and enslaved and how, in spite of that, very few of them became engaged in struggles for freedom – and that’s been, in our country, a huge problem, as they were always told that “No matter how bad your life is, you’re better off than them.”

And as we look back on those days up until today we’d see and hopefully come to appreciate what’s happening today, how more White people are awakening socially and politically and beginning to take to the streets with us in the struggle for equality, challenging the police, making changes in their mindsets, their beliefs, how they hear, how they see.

I’d want my students to know that this world awaits them, that they have

a rightful place in society, that they and their community, as Black Lives Matter has said all along, “have the power not just to save the country (as we just did in the presidential election) but to lead the country.”

It truly is their time to shine.

For the betterment of all humankind.

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