Black History, Education and Oprah

As we say farewell to another Black History Month I wanted to address some of the struggles I’ve been facing as an educator in the community. I help teach a class for children, ages 10-16 at the local library here in Syracuse (training future Blackademcis). In class we talk about racism, black history the struggles students face inside and outside the classroom. Our guide for the class is Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s groundbreaking text, The Miseducation of the Negro and everyday we find out how much the children, themselves are miseducated. Many of the students look down upon themselves and Africa and virtually none of them were aware of their history or African history/people. The extent of their knowledge of Africa could be summed up in a few phrases: HIV/AIDs, poverty, people living in trees, etc. In 2007, our miseducation is still paramount.

opThis is where Oprah comes in. The popularity and the press surrounding her school has offered a rare glimpse of Africa as a place where learning, education and positive growth can take place. However there is still the implication that only someone with the power and influence of Oprah Winfrey is capable of pulling off such a miracle. Especially to our students who were not aware that Africa has been one of the world’s intellectual capitals for centuries. I say this all to stress the importance of advocating for Black history more than just one month a year. If some school or business brought you in to speak, or you’re connected with some institution that did something for BHM, lean on them to get some Black history popping off in July, or November. Because we cannot make up for centuries of exclusion on just one month per year. There we go, i’m done preaching.

For any of you that are interested, Oprah is airing a special on her South African Leadership Academy for girls on ABC this Saturday at 9pm. This might be a good chance to re-open the discussion on Oprah; is her school progressive or is it neo-colonialism in Blackface?

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Published on February 28, 2007 at 6:55 pm. 8 Comments.
Filed under academia,collective action,history,television.