During the summer I had the opportunity to read BREAKING THE CHAINS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SLAVERY by Na’im Akbar, Ph.D. and while the book is copyrighted in 1996 and on its Twelfth printing of September 2019, the content contained on the pages are more relevant now than ever. We are living in a world where one race/ethnic background is valued and highlighted while the others are demeaned and debased whether consciously or subconsciously. Whether through codes, obvious remarks or "dog whistles." This has occurred historically, yet with the plethora of media and social media platforms, the blatant disregard for anyone who is not of European-American descent is smack dab in our faces up close and personal on a minute by minute basis. Make no mistake, this constant barrage of hurt, harm, and danger to people of color is impacting our children both of European-American descent and children of EVERY OTHER family/nationality origin.
Given that we are in a world that is constantly showing by its actions that people of color don’t matter (hence Black Lives Matter - BLM) or are nothing, we must, particularly in the communities comprised of people of color, intentionally give our children a sense of pride. The following excerpt below is from BREAKING THE CHAINS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SLAVERY.
“We must learn to comfortably celebrate ourselves. Self-celebration (we must again emphasize) does not necessitate the degradation of others. It does unapologetically, sing the greatness of our accomplishments and special blessing to the world. It tells each new generation something about the value of the fabric from which they are made. Cultures and institutions put considerable resources into creating images and opportunities to sing the praises of their accomplishments. This process is an essential part of maintaining a free mind, but it becomes even more fundamental in freeing a captive mind. Certainly, one of the major strategies for enslaving the mind was the degradation of the Black/African self. The story of natural Black inferiority and ugliness were constant stories told to destroy the worth of the Black mind. The fantasies of African backwardness as incapable of technological development and characterized by superstitious and humanly regressive acts of cannibalism and savagery were all constructed in Tarzan stories, Little Black Sambo images and thousands of other derogatory ideas and illustrations to destroy the Black person’s self-image and to further the idea of Black incompetence and deficiency.
Celebration then becomes a healing. If Europeans could comfortably identify themselves with every image from Santa Claus to the son of God in order to celebrate who they are, why shouldn’t we find images (both real and imagined) that communicate to Black African people something about our potential greatness. Perhaps, Kwanzaa is not an actual African Holiday, but why shouldn't we have a week-long celebration that brings pride and dignity to our culture. Why shouldn’t the entire nation stop on the second Monday in January to celebrate the battle for human dignity by Martin Luther King, Jr. If black people decide to call an assembly of one million black men in Washington, D. C., on a Monday in October 1995, then why question the celebration since the very structure of the city of D. C. so emphatically celebrates the greatness of European-American accomplishment. The hundreds of statues, museums, galleries, libraries, plaques, and monuments which blanket the city consistently celebrate the greatness of being European-American. One could very easily walk around D. C. for an entire day and conclude that only European-American males built this great country. It is not accidental that European-American males continue to run the country and that the celebration and information they receive continuously reinforces their greatness.
We must unashamedly display our images and great ancestral figures throughout our environments. From pictures on the walls to statues in the park and street names, we should celebrate our heritage and those people who have distinguished themselves as African people of greatness.”
To contribute to our children’s sense of pride, we must direct their attention to strong images like themselves to help them grow in self-respect and love for themselves. This must be intentional and not left to happenstance. The histories of ALL cultures must be studied and taught with their heroes and sheroes put on display. While there is nothing wrong with being an athlete or an entertainer, we are so much more than that. The display of greatness has been lopsided for too long. An African-American male is just as worthy as a Caucasian male and the same holds true for women and people of every other ethnic group and culture. At the end of the day, we are ALL human beings with one race, culture, or ethnic group not being any better than any of the others.
Our children need to know the flaws of research that claim that any group is superior to the other. Our children need to know the contributions that people who look like them have made to build this country and the world for that matter. Our children need to know that there is nothing wrong with skin being dark or light. Our children need to know that they are loved and are somebody regardless of their being Caucasoid, Mongoloids, or Negroid. They need to know that red, or yellow, black, or white, all are precious in God’s sight.
So as this school year begins amidst this pandemic, let’s make it our business to give our children a sense of pride.