Each year at about this time, I write my heart about some aspect of Black history, given that you don’t see much in the homeschooling community about February as Black History month. This year, I have a particular concern.
There is a wave of educational revision that threatens to wipe out much of what we know to be true of American history.
In certain states, people from Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall, to Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton, are removed from history books. Those in power claim that their contribution is not as significant as “others. “
Curriculum publishers are under fire for their insistence that Africans who were forced here in chains were “immigrants.”
This teaching demeans our intelligence and belittles us all. Moreover, it sends a jaded message to our children and does not prepare them to value people in the world who do not look like them or view the world in the same way.
There is another educational revision–perhaps as a response to or in parallel with the afore-mentioned revision. It sounds a bit like this:
All people descended from Africa.
Africa was perfect.
We (black people) were perfect in Africa; then, we were brought here.
While both religious and secular historians and scientists acknowledge that the earliest traces of man are found in Africa, the rest of this message is as jaded as the original wave, and it, likewise, does not prepare children to value people in the world who do not look like them or view the world in the same way.
Either message is problematic, to say the least. Teaching history in any other way than with an inclusive lens inherently lifts up one group of people over another. The word for this is supremacy, and it does not matter what color you are, it’s just wrong. None of us get where we are in a vacuum, and our journey is an integral portion of the journeys around us. That is the truth of life, and that is certainly the truth of history.
My intent is not to judge any curriculum or educational goals, but instead to nudge with the following question: what am I teaching my kids, and why?
I talk quite often when I speak publicly about using our time as home educators to build world changers. It is not just a cliché that I use to make people feel some grandiose mission in what they do as parents; I truly do believe that when we set ourselves to this task, there is more at stake than we realize. Our history as blacks in America is complicated. It is hard, and there are no clear answers. But if we–any of us–are unwilling to teach truth, then we limit our children’s desires for change. If we are too disheartened to present problems, they fail to realize that there is much left to solve.
There are those who will say that if they don’t teach history in exclusivity (i.e., nothing but Africa–presented as Wakanda or some other fictional utopian society), then the white supremacist has a head start. Honestly, I don’t believe we need to teach to the defense of an extreme; most whites don’t even care for supremacist groups. I worry more about white Christians who will smile, embrace you, and in their own way, lovingly tell you that racism does not exist; you are just being dramatic. I am more concerned with the white family who adopts a black child, and with good intentions fails to have certain conversations because they “don’t see color.” I am more bothered by missionaries who minister nationally or internationally with an arrogance that hasn’t been surrendered to Christ in that area. History, taught through an inclusive lens, might help us walk in another’s shoes, and might help us understand grace and mercy at a deeper level.
I know some things about Africa, largely from my friends from different countries and the books I have read. I look forward to learning more, and to traveling there. I want to see the metropolitan areas like Nairobi, Lagos, and Harare, and talk amongst the farmers I see on Instagram. I hope to see Kilimanjaro (though I would not have to climb it—lol) and also the Maasai Mara of Kenya. I’d love to see whales off the coast of South Africa, and the Serengeti. I want to take it all in. More than that, I want my family to be a part of the solution to problems—clean water issues, education and empowerment for those who cannot afford it, and food in the desert regions. And I want to help educate my family in a way that has us all praying for resources to make a difference.
Our story, the story of blacks in America, is ultimately about triumph, about resilience, about determination, and about excellence. Everything in between, no matter how dark, is a side step on the way to greatness. And our story is still being told. As Believers, we can tell the story as it is, with a mind toward age-appropriateness and intellectual readiness. We can seek wise council in the form of mentors and Spirit-filled friends. We can submit our fears, our anger, and even our hatred over to God, knowing that He is able to handle it all.