Today, in the Conscious Parenting for the Culture group (my free support group for Black parents), a concerned mom posted her son's school assignment asking him to type the thoughts the "plantation owner" may have had from the "plantation owner's" POV and the "slave" thought and point of view from their perspective. THIS IS VIOLENCE!
In what other circumstance would someone be asked to consider the perspective of someone who participated in such dehumanizing, genocidal acts? Why are the enslaver's thoughts even centered during Black history month? Why is enslavement the focus of Black history during a month where Black excellence, resilience, culture, and beauty are supposed to celebrated. Enslavement is not Black history, it is American history!
Another parent shared this article with the below assignment. The question, captured in a screenshot by several parents, asks students to imagine they are speaking to a slave: “This slave has disrespected his master by telling him, ‘You are not my master!’ How do you punish this slave?”
We're still doing this in 2021 ya'll? And during Black history month? I'm so tired of this!
So what do you do when your child's teacher wakes up and chooses a violent, culturally insensitive curriculum?
Email the teacher, principal, and school board with the assignment and clearly outline why it is inappropriate, insensitive, and perpetuates racism in education. Share some resources so they can do better and stop causing harm. Here's one that'll help give teachers some tips on teaching beyond slavery. https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/black-history-month-teaching-beyond-slavery
Talk to your child about enslavement. You can have this conversation in an age-appropriate, but honest way that honors the humanity of the enslaved and tells the truth about the enslavers. Make sure you're using the correct language. POV of ENSLAVER and ENSLAVED...words matter. That would be the first correction. "POV of Enslaver is I am too lazy to work my own land and don't want to pay people a fair wage, so I disconnected from my own humanity in order to dehumanize other humans by owning them and stripping them of their Native identity and forcing them to live and work in a different country for free and under inhumane working conditions because whiteness is toxic and white supremacy is terrorism." The teacher might be kinda surprised at that answer but hey...they asked.
Use this opportunity as a teaching opportunity for the family about whiteness, white supremacy, capitalism, how and why the racial construct was formed, the racial caste system, abolition, and Black liberation. All of it age appropriate but done in an empowering way because many kids feel shame when enslavement is discussed. If they're in a public school, especially a white school, they will always face this issue. Help them come up with the words to work through the emotions that come up as well as how to advocate for themselves when presented with this ish at school.
This is traumatic for Black children. It may cause feelings of shame that may contribute to internalized inferiority and antiblackness. Ask how they're feeling to help them process. And also make sure they are empowered with knowledge and cultural pride. This is why I ONLY have Black dolls, books, and art in my home. This is why you create a solid foundation of Black pride. Because once public education gets a hold of them, they'll be indoctrinated into white supremacy in one way or another.
And please miss me with the "the teacher had no choice" crap. There's ALWAYS a choice. You may not like the consequences of those choices, but hey, I don't like the consequences of how these violent and dehumanizing lessons make Black children feel. Black history is the same month every damn year. If the curriculum is carefully planned out in advance to ensure this harmful material doesn't find its way into a classroom, then the school and the teachers simply do not care to do better and as a parent, you need to care about that.
So, what does your child's school have planned for Black History Month? If you don't know, now's the time to ask.
Keep it Conscious!