It's the most wonderful time of the year again ....
It's time to celebrate the historical trauma, structural violence, and ontological death of Black Americans.
Since 1976, Americans have observed Black History month in February for the purpose, according to President Gerald Ford, "...to honor the too-often-neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
While the intentions seem pure, if you analyze the subtext of this statement, it doesn't offer a commitment to the future, a chance to heal, or a promise to make structural changes.
Fast forward almost 50 years later, and no leader of the free world, has been able to write an executive order to rewrite or reframe the contents of our teaching materials, learning content, and assessments to be more inclusive. The closest thing we have come to anything like this, is in 2012 when Obama signed an executive order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA). The Initiative, housed in the Department of Education, works with individuals and organizations throughout the country to highlight and share effective national and local programs, policies, and practices that support the development and success of African American students.
- How does Black Excellence align with the values and mission of the Department of Education?
- What changes are being made to decolonize the teaching materials, learning content, and assessments ?
- How will Black Excellence prepare individuals for global competitiveness ?
- What are the global equal opportunities that we are preparing students for ?
Black excellence is toxic and self-serving.
We have evolved from the old notions of Black Excellence. We are no longer in a space where we need to prove our ability to learn and master skills and subjects. We are in a space now that exposes the fallacy of the "talented tenth", an expression coined by W.E.B. DuBois in the 1903 essay written in his volumen "The Negro Problem". The idea that [Black people], alike all races, will be saved by its exceptional men has betrayed us. Even DuBois repudiated his essay in 1948, revealing that training a talented tenth might give too much control and power to a group of selfish, elite men who would only use the power to resolve issue for their personal freedom and use of the world without uplifting the rest of the Black community.
DuBois was right. Attempts to inspire the world with the gifts, talents, and skills of exemplary Black performance, Black Excellence, has been inconsequential in a capitalistic society that profits on social and economical inequalities. The social and historical barriers to accessing a well-lived life are by the design of capitalism. Only when social change is profitable, capitalism seems to work.
The need for social change, creates a demand for knowledge capital, which conveniently makes Black Excellence appear, novel. However, Black people and their exemplary performance and achievements alone can not seem to end the onslaught of gratuitous violence against black lives. The pursuit of black excellence adds more fodder to the machine. The outcomes of Black excellence have resulted in disproportionate health disparities when considering the determinants of health. Even more alarming, Black women, choosing the path of excellence, are forced to compete for the coveted and misogynist domain of the head of household with black men or survive without Black men - developing mantras such as "I can do bad by myself" or "I'm a strong independent black woman". Such mantras are bandaids for the soul as we struggle to survive and thrive in a world full of broken people... broken from the social and economic inequalities imposed upon us.
What else can be done to access a well-lived life ?
I'm going to say something that might be unpopular, however, my silence on this matter is not an option. As a black woman-owned business owner, I don't want or need to be reminded of the racial trauma and structural violence inflicted on my ancestors. I'm am still living in it with you, at this present moment. There has been very little change to our systems of oppression since the civil rights era.
I'm not going to write anymore details to prove my point in this blog article, if you need references or facts, do your own homework. I'm tired of having to prove that I am in pain or I am suffering and trying to defend my position, protect my soul, and still set aside time to love myself and maintain my health.
I said what I said and it is what it is. I tired of being tired. I just want to heal and pick up what remains of my life and use my own aesthetic vision to access as much of a well-lived life as I can with all things considered. I want to connect with others who can find beauty in all things and focus on our similarities instead of our differences.
We all need to heal. We all need to decolonize our thoughts. We all need to learn how to love again.