Published on February 22, 2022
A lot of work has been done on bridging the divides in America, and that must be applauded. I am a believer in giving credit where it is due, and this is one of them. Celebrating black history month is another among many other celebrations that go on year-round. Having said that there is also a lot of work still yet to be done specifically to close the gap in terms of full acceptance in so many divides with a close focus on the Black History Month celebrations. Let’s have a conversation with an open mind, shall we?
As a person of African origin and blessed with education, living, and working in three continents (Africa, Europe, and North America), I have the best opportunity to see things from a different perspective and a unique angle. Simply put, I stand in the middle where I listen to both sides from what people may describe as extreme ends. Both sides have their perspective and until we stop to listen, no one is listening to anyone because everyone is screaming and wants to be heard. Yes, from one side of the divide, how one is educated on the topic, what one is exposed to, one’s culture, history, etc. determines their thinking. And so, it is difficult to point a finger, mainly, because of the heavy dominance of ignorance on many facets. On the other divide, some people are acting on ‘never willing’ to back down on what they refused to know to bring peace among all humans. There is a need for re-education about the history of African Americans. Let’s continue this conversation.
I have an issue with how Black History Month is celebrated when it comes to classroom education, especially to the younger ones who are learning this for the first time. What do I mean? The education is not as complete as it should be in many schools or write-ups. Let’s take for example when you educate a young white child about how Africans were taken from their native countries and brought to America against their wills, shackled together with chains, regarded as property instead of humans, forced to work hard labor, and killed in most cases and you end the story there, how do you expect that young white child to relate to that fellow black individual the next time? As true as the story may be and shared without any possible malice, this is where the incompleteness of the story stirs aggression from the opposite end subliminally. Or how do you blame the white individual for not looking down on that fellow black friend the next time because s/he is now educated on the power s/he had over them.
For faster healing (among many other steps being taken), the education should end with a genuine call to Action and or making it clear that those actions taken by the forefathers were wrong. Steps to heal and what to do to bridge the divide should be embedded into such education to make the story complete. Else, wounds are only being opened and people are only being reminded of the pain those who came ahead of them suffered. If this is not done and done properly, we are creating more damage or harm than we hope for. Or should we call it BLACK HISTORY month on a CLIFFHANGER? Shall we end this discussion on the following note?
School boards across the United States, governors in all 50 States (yes it can be done), or best, Congress and the legislature with support from the community should start thinking of better reforms to address this issue. We owe it to history, ourselves, and the future to do it right. We need to clean our homes before cleaning other homes across the world. The greatest nation of the world, also referred to as the ‘FREE’ world cannot hide behind its challenges but the need to face them with focus with a great plan to properly heal all wounds. Like the old book, the Bible teaches us by the axiom - how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? … First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’. Let’s move from cliffhanging black history education to an inclusive education that embodies who we are or hope to be.
All in all, one cannot also deny the steps that have been taken over the years for unity and closing the divide. The black community should appreciate the steps taken so far, then both sides can continue to ‘jaw-jaw’ for the next steps.
Evans Kwesi Mensah
Adjunct Faculty Coach, University of Denver;
Author of “Synergy and Commonality: The Key to Success”; and “Beyond the Credentials”.
@EvansKwesiMens1 / www.evansmensah.com