DOES EDUCATION SETUP THE BLACK CHILD TO FAIL?

I have always had an internal debate when it comes to education as a whole and what we ought to be learning. This conversation arose from my scepticism of what I have been taught in my school years, primarily history.

I remember being fascinated by hearing how so many countries were “discovered” by brave and visionary Europeans (Caucasian). How they sailed to a land west when they actually intended to go east and stumbled upon Indians. It didn’t take long before the natives were murdered and given a piece of their own land while the invaders, oh my bad, the brave explorers took everything else. Or how about that great chapter in history when more of these amazing explorers landed on our shores, set us free from our ignorant ways, raped our mothers while enslaving our daughters and brothers and again give us a piece of what was ours anyway. But I don’t want to delve too deep into the politics of that, what I am actually getting at here is the fact that I never really heard stories of black people, my people, doing something as noteworthy as their Caucasian counterparts.

Eventually we were taught about people like Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X or even our very own Nelson Mandela – but even then, those sections were a blimp in our notes as compared to the white history I knew. I realised that there was a flaw in our education especially for the black child in the classroom.

It would be a breeze to tell a white child that they can do amazing things with their lives and be whoever they wanted to be simply because they have endless references of their ancestors’ successes in every history book they can get their hands on. The same wouldn’t work for a black child. My references would tell me that I am lucky to be where I am right now because I should have been a slave or dead. My references would tell me that I would have to go through enormous struggle to get to where I want to be, it’s just our legacy. My references would tell me that I would have to fight more than the system that was rigged against my kind, that I would have to fight the mindset that was inherited through oppression, degradation, segregation, an instilling of a low sense of worth and a system that was never created with us in mind. As long as I was black, I was born to fight in some way for what I wanted.

In my own time in between school hours, I would read up further on any books I could find about black accomplishments. To be honest, I was searching through those pages for hope. Hope for myself and hope for others like me. I had to find it. Thank God I did. From carbon filament in light bulbs, to mobile refrigeration, to the wide toothed comb, to laser cataract surgery, to elevators, to traffic lights, to cctv, to peanut butter, to the automatic transmission in cars, to pacemakers, and even something that would birth another passion of mine – video game cartridges. All these things are but a few of the priceless contributions that were made to the world, and they were all made by people who looked like me. Why had I never heard of these people in school? I mean, we get introduced to physics & chemistry by learning about people who made major contributions to the filed, so why hadn’t I heard of Patricia Bath, Norbert Rillieux, Percy Lavon Julian, Mae Jemison or even James West? Why don’t we teach about the likes of Basetsana Kumalo, Vusi Thembekwayo, Patrice Motsepe or Ludwick Marishane?

So how can we expect that young black people should aspire to succeed in all these fields when they’re not told about the ones who did it before them? The legacy of those who had no choice but to make their lives about fighting for us to shine like the stars we are, is at times devastated by education, or lack thereof in the case of the black child. I believe the education system should be fair, as much as we (black kids) had to learn about all the wars and “struggles” of the white man’s rise to fighting for what is “his”, equally let us know about the black pioneers, engineers, doctors, inventors and revolutionaries who changed the world we live in. Let the education,or as I like to see it, the upliftment and en-couragement, of the black child not be a swift paging through of notes, but an opportunity for them to engage, discuss and gain a fair plane view of history as it relates to the now.

As a black woman, I came to the realization that I need to be the black person that can be a part of history for the next generation of black kids – for all the reasons that will hopefully make them dream more and fear less their strength and capabilities. Let the ones after us look back at us and feel like they can do it too. I realised that we do not have to rewrite history as young black people, all I have to do is add to it. Because if they could, so can we. And if we can, so can they.

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DO WE GET HIGH OFF OF BEING A DRUG?

This thought recently plagued my mind one night. We often like to refer to others being bad for us in the sense that we perceive and receive them as drugs to ourselves. But I realized that there is a rush that we may not even want to acknowledge – one where we get high off of being a drug to someone else. The fantastical notion that someone needs me can almost be as intoxicating as having someone else’s existence be your drug.

I started thinking through the times in my life when I felt most motivated, or full of willpower, and I came to the realization that it was when I either knew that someone I love would be happy or benefit, or knowing that the person was going to be feeding off it as much as I would. Something as simple as making someone smile or being a source of comfort for someone, that is its own euphoria. I will admit that if this is the case, I am an addict. When I see an individual able to feed off of something from me in a positive way, that feeling that I have contributed not just to them but to someone’s entire world – even for a moment – I love it.

But is it dangerous to get high off your own supply (in this case, supply being a verb)? Over time the high of feeling like you did good for someone else, just like any other addiction, can become debilitating. The constant need to supply happiness to others is actually a cry for the need to be supplied with the same drug. Pretty soon you become someone else and find no identity in being someone who gets no approval from others. But quintessentially, the biggest loss becomes the biggest irony – your emptiness is filled in finding your drug in someone else when you had the supply yourself the entire time.

“There is nothing outside yourself that can ever enable you to become better, stronger, richer, quicker or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” – Miyamoto Musashi

These words speak volumes to the endless quest that we humans sometimes make in searching for things that we may often feel will fulfil us, but only to find that they were within us – maybe too late. I will be the first to say that there is a beauty to discovering things in someone in your life that add to your own, just as much as realizing that someone else is all you ever needed.

Regardless of whether you’re the addict to being the supplier or the addict to receiving, it’s a good thing to take a look inside yourself and get to a place of contentment and peace before you lose yourself and even what you have to give. The world needs your supply, but so do you. The supply is within you.

James Blake did this!

I am an avid music-lover. There are a lot of things I feel I can get through when I have my music with me. From remaining calm when I have been thoroughly annoyed to washing those annoying pots – with music, I do it with a smile.

I feel it’s only fair that I begin this section off with the song that began this blog. It was while watching an episode of iZombie that I heard it – the song that I connected with so strongly it amazed me. All I recall was a voice with such control and range that I completely stopped watching the show itself and just closed my eyes to listen to this melody. I Googled the song information and found that it was called Retrograde by James Blake. Please don’t judge me, but this was the first time I had ever heard of James Blake. I was in love.

This song was a symphony where everything was telling the story. His voice, his lyrics, the piano, the synth and even the drum – they were the orchestra of emotions I needed to feel.

The lyrics are what truly reached to me. “So be the girl you loved. Be the girl you loved.”  I suddenly came to the realisation that we spend so much time on wanting to make our dreams come true, to be the person that crowds adore, but at the end of it all can we still say that we are who we loved? Are we that person that your 5 year old self would love to be one day? Don’t be afraid to be the person you love.

“I’ll wait. So show me why you’re strong. Ignore everybody else. We’re alone now.” I pondered on these words. Why would he say that? How would I respond if someone said that to me? It’s funny, I would build my guards up to protect myself, only to realise that I locked myself out too. I had become so used to being strong that I missed the chance to ask myself why was I strong? Vulnerability was the enemy, when instead it should have been the key to allow myself to be free. It may have taken a while but I was allowed to not be strong.

“Suddenly I’m hip. Is this darkness of the dawn? When your friends are gone. And your friends won’t come. So show me where you fit.” Going back to the loss of being who the world loves and not who you love, what happens when those that love you don’t love you? Sure you’re known now, but where do you now fit? The only thing you stand to lose when you choose to be fearless is fear itself.

This masterpiece by James Blake affected and infected me with the rediscovery that there is a beauty to choosing yourself. Choosing to be happy. Choosing to be free. Although we may lose a lot in our own journeys, we ought to not lose ourselves. When the chips are down, we’re all we have left. To not be afraid of the mirror of self because it’s in it where I find my truth. Going backwards is sometimes the right step forward. Retrograde is the beginning of my evolution.

James Blake – Retrograde (live)

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You did this James…Thank you.

James, if you are reading this, firstly, thank you. Secondly, I really hope one day we cross paths (it would be awesome to see you with the piano in your control).

Be sure to check out more of James Blake’s amazing works (I’m an official fan now). James Blake on Apple Music