Did you know that African American people where not always slaves? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-10-2004, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a young mother slowly figuring out some very important thinks in my life and my children’s lives.

It dawned on me last week how inappropriate the school system is when it comes time to teach about the different historical cultures in America. It is Black history month and my son, who is Ojibwe mixed with African heritage, is coming home excited to give a speech about Martin Luther King. I encourage this it is good to know about him. They learned about the slaves, the Underground Railroad, Rosa Parks. But then I asked if they have ever mentioned anything about Native people and where they were when slavery happened. My son, who is seven, said no. He asked why.

So I ponder what I had said and then asked “Did you know that black people were not always Slaves?” And my son’s response was “Well then what were they?” It is shocking that my son comes home after school in Nov. with a feather cut from paper in is head saying he is an old Indian, and that the school is not teaching him that African people were enslaved, that they were not always slaves. So I sat down with him and went over history. How Europeans came here, killed most of the indigenous people for their land; stole African people from their land and enslaved them, and how as indigenous people we are forgotten about and made fun of. That it would never be appropriate to come home with chains on his hands and ankles and pretend to be a “Slave”, but all students get the impression that it is ok to cut feathers out of paper to be an Indian. So I came to the conclusion that I will have to teach him at home about some of these things and not be so naive that the school will do him right.

I wanted to post this train of thought and get some of your responses. How many of you have ever thought about this and really looking back on your education is there a place out there that teaches our children the correct terms about each other?
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#2 of 6 Old 02-10-2004, 09:17 PM
 
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Wonderful points made! it is true, kids do assume all "black" people are ancestors of slaves and no nothing of "african" or native heritages. I try to teach DD the basics myself. Of course. we are a family of varied cultures and DD has been told my her classmates, etc. that she is "white" and she i so confused by our cultures ridiculous categories (she is almost 7 yo). DH is dark brown skinned but is NOT African American-akllthough he obviousely has some African ancestry, he was nto even born in this country. He is from Puerto Rico and his parents of of PR and Dominican descent and their colors/features vary. Fro mwhat we know we trace back Spanish, African (sadly his family liek to deny that-major racism on their part), Native, italian, and more!! So the whole Black/African American thing is real off for her. And when I told her some people will consider her "black" she was so lost cause she thought it was about color.

Anyway, teach on your own and if your child is interested the ywill pass it on to their friends-we know my DD does!!

BTW, while DH has no issue with being called or assumed balck or African American, he has made the point when people insist on callign him African American that he has yet to meet and African American relative-it is a different culture than his-he does not relate to what we call African American culture. Whiel NOT an insult you'd be shocked how many people will look at him and say "You are to dark to be Puerto Rican-you are black-liar!" even though he never ARGUEd them and has a very Spanish name and an accent!
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#3 of 6 Old 02-10-2004, 09:55 PM
 
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Black history month is degrading, in my eyes. Limiting the study of great balck figures throughout the world's history to one specific month only teaches segregation & too many get left out of lessons at all.

& why isn't there a Native Indian month, a white month, an Asian month, etc? So much separation IMO. I argue this with my teacher mom & she hates it to, but teaches public school where they have certain requirements during the year. She "breaks" the rules by disregarding any particular separation of Feb from another month during the schoolyear... & teaches about historic figures all year long (VERY general, grade K). I still have to work on her as far as what they teach about Thanksgiving... white man's happy feasting celebrations with Indian men & women & kids - leaving off the part about the feast being BEFORE the slaughter & land thieving but AFTER stealing their farming methods of course :barf

It would be great if public schooling would rework many of the lessons. In early highscool we (my friends, us) started realizing how crazy & biased A LOT of what you learn in school is. It's astounding, really. No, it's warped & untruthful most of the time (talking about history classes). Would finding a group of parents to go share the truth at the local schools work, or trying to enlighten & change the existing cirriculum?

I have no answer for the question you asked about how to unteach categories, or teach accurate ones? I still get reflective when trying to decide what to say in certain circumstances. I guess I usually distinguish someone by location rather than by color... but i think you're asking more about "am i black, indiginous or white mom?" Right? My partner & I are of different race, so our kids will be "mixed" "South-North American" "latin european" ... uh, "Northern EuroLatin American" its all kinda crazy to me - categories!

best wishes
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#4 of 6 Old 02-11-2004, 12:24 AM
 
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I don't think I got taught anything even close to real history until I was in college. It was the same old pilgrims, WWII, Vietnam to fight off communism, etc. in high school. I'm amazed that my son is doing this extensive native american unit right now, studying tribes, and he has only heard one sentence about what our ancestors and our fellow americans (still) did/are doing to native americans. Maybe the schools think they are too young, and I think there is a point to be made that young children can feel weighted down by too much history; but my son really responded when I told him some facts about what has happened to native americans. In terms of african american history, the school has a long way to go. We try to teach it at home.

 
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#5 of 6 Old 02-11-2004, 12:16 PM
 
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Interesting insight. So, do you think that what many children are learning is that early America somehow came with slaves--like they were here, waiting to be slaves when Europeans arrived, or that slavery had been a constant since the beginning of time and the early Europeans simply brought their slaves with them when they came here. I guess these are the conclusions children would come to if they are never taught exactly how Africans were enslaved in the first place.

When my children get home from school today, I'm going to ask them what they think. We live in Virginia, and fifth graders (my dd's grade) do an entire year studying the history of Virginia. Naturally, the institution of slavery is an important topic, but I wonder if they've learned about the actual enslaving of people.
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#6 of 6 Old 02-11-2004, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by daylily
Interesting insight. So, do you think that what many children are learning is that early America somehow came with slaves--like they were here, waiting to be slaves when Europeans arrived, or that slavery had been a constant since the beginning of time and the early Europeans simply brought their slaves with them when they came here. I guess these are the conclusions children would come to if they are never taught exactly how Africans were enslaved in the first place.

When my children get home from school today, I'm going to ask them what they think. We live in Virginia, and fifth graders (my dd's grade) do an entire year studying the history of Virginia. Naturally, the institution of slavery is an important topic, but I wonder if they've learned about the actual enslaving of people.
Yes to the question about are they learning that they came with them or what?

My son thought they were slaves in Africa and white men went there to get them. He had no idea that is was Their land first and that this was Our land first.

And thank you for saying you will ask your children. That is way I posted this to see if people even talk with children about this.

It would have never dawned on me to even ask this unless it was brought to my attention last Oct. And even then it did not sink in till this month when I attended a parent visit day at the school.
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