ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Through tears, the old grandfather looked directly at me as said, Thank God! One of
our daughters has come home. He explained how happy he was that one of the lost ones
has come home. You should feel proud, he said. Dont ever feel ashamed of
what has happened to you because you have a home here.
Books by Joyce E. King
* * * * *
Black Education for Human Freedom
The African Renaissance and the History That Is in the Present
Joyce E. King, PhD
Georgia State University
3rd World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures
December 10-31, 2010
This document is intended to provide a concise summary of the paper on Black Education that was the basis of two presentations at the Forum on the African Diaspora on December 11, 2010. It captures important parts of the spoken presentation, including these key points:
1. Diaspora Africans have experienced a dislocation of self, not a loss of self.
2. The African Renaissance must be centered in African (not European) realities, including, for example, African languages.
3. What and how we teach about Africa and people of African descent, in the Diaspora and on the Motherland, needs to be changed to reflect our Pan African priorities.
4. We do not start our story with slavery but with human history in Africa.
5. Establishing Standards for Contextualized Teaching and Learning about Africa and People of African Descent worldwide is essential for relevant and progressive education as the foundation for a true African Renaissance.
* * * * *
Following the content of the paper/presentations are Recommendations for Action that were submitted to the President of the Festivals Scientific Committee, Dr. Iba Der Thiam.
The concluding section is a brief Commentary followed by a list of references. At their request, this document has been transmitted to Dr. Iba Der Thiam and Dr. Djibril Diallo Co-ordinator of the U.S. Committee for the World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures and Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS, for the consideration of President Abdoulaye Wade, who will make his report regarding Festival activities and follow-up actions in the Diaspora to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2011.
This document was prepared and is being disseminated in the spirit of President Abdoulaye Wades appointment of the U.S. Delegation to the Festival as Goodwill Ambassadors to the African Renaissance leading to the formation of the United States of Africa and the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
I. Black Education for Human Freedom
The only question that concerns us here is whether these educated persons are actually equipped to face the ordeal before them or unconsciously contribute to their own undoing by perpetuating the regime of the oppressor.
Carter G. Woodson, Mis-Education of the Negro
It is still quite common to hear assertions (by scholars) that as a result of our enslavement and brutal separation from our African origins, Black peoples in the Diaspora have experienced a loss of self and, therefore, any identification with Africa, African values, and cultural practices has been obliterated. Rather than a social fact, this school of thought persists, misinformed by certain Euro-centered scholarship as well as the popular imagination nurtured by white supremacy ideology. African-centered scholarship and the discipline of Black Studies provide substantial evidence to the contrary and demonstrate that what Africans in the Diaspora have experienced is not self-loss but dislocation. Carter G. Woodson attributed the cause to our mis-education. Thus, the educational task is to uncover and restore hidden connections to correct distortions and omissions that can aid in the recuperation and healing of our African minds, identity, and spirit. This educational task rests on four premises:
First Premise: Truthful, equitable, and culturally appropriate education is understood to be a basic human right, and not only as a condition of Black peoples individual dignity and collective survival, but is also fundamental to civilization and human freedom irrespective of race and culture.
Second Premise: People of African descent share broad cultural continuities and our survival as an ethnic family, our quintessential peoplehood, is at stake in educational and socialization processes.
Third Premise: Black education has been over-studied from deficit (e.g., loss of self) perspectives that negatively influence various educational practices, including current tests and standards. These represent and betray the very same sin of omission that characterizes literature and perspectives that deem contemporary Africansboth in the Diaspora and on the Continentas relatively insignificant in human history until the advent of western slavery.
Fourth Premise: Formal education has been structured around ideological pedagogical knowledge for the purposes of mis-education in order to elevate and maintain the control and power of dominant groups.
The education struggle in the U.S. since the 1960s has included establishing Black Studies and Africana Studies departments in colleges and universities and spearheading research, knowledge production, and the development of corrective and inclusive curriculum materials for schools at all levels. The implementation of a high-stakes testing regimefor students and teachers under the banner of quality education has sidelined these educational contributions. My colleagues and I have produced ground breaking research and scholarship on Black education (King, 2005), including (19) Criterion Standards for Contextualized Teaching and Learning about People of African Descent (Goodwin & King, 2010) that we have determined are foundational for education for human freedom.
These Criterion Standards, such as the eight examples presented below, can be used in teacher preparation, parent education, curriculum and textbook development as well as (standards-based) instruction in classrooms and community settings:
African humanity and civilization are anterior in the recorded history of the world. Classical Africa was a primary influence on European growth, development, and civilization. (#1)
African Diasporan histories begin in Africa with human history, not with the period of enslavement. (#2)
African peoples heritage includes the African presence in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, including Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. An accurate history of the experience of people of African descent includes interactions with other groups. (#3)
African descent people are one people, continental and Diasporic. There is a cultural unity across Diasporan communities as a common experience of domination, disenfranchisement, and social/political/economic inequalities. (#5)
The Transatlantic slave trade is the foundational base for European and American growth and economic development. The enslavement of African peoples and the exploitation of their labor, socio-economic knowledge, and technical expertise were as important to the economic wealth in the Northern colonies and states as in the American South. (#7)
The appropriation of African and Diasporic forms of cultural expression is the basis of much of what has created a distinguishing U.S. cultural character (e.g., art and architecture, cuisine, music, dance, design, invention, education reforms, language, fashion, etc.). (#8)
African people have resisted domination and oppression from the earliest period of enslavement. Resistance by African descent people to racism and oppression continues and has taken many social, political, economic and cultural forms, including self-determination, spiritual resilience, and agency in education, cultural expression, and community building (e.g., mutual aid societies, benevolent associations, social movements, fraternal lodges, Freedom schools, Kwanzaa, Rites of Passage, etc.). (#9)
The indigenous African worldview is embedded in African language, which is the key needed to unlock the stranglehold of external interpretations of African peoples history and culture. The stranglehold includes interpretations of African domestic systems of servitude, spirituality, and governance. (#11)
II. African Languages and the African Renaissance
If anything, Négritude is more necessary today than ever. It has moral and ethical implications that should concern everyone. It must be valid for the whole Negro world.Aimé Césaire, First World Festival of Negro Arts (Kennedy, 1968)
African languages are foundational in the reclamation of African identity and consciousness. We have been victimized by concepts and ideas about the inferiority of blackness, Africa, and our heritage and the superiority of all that is European (and white). For example, in English and other European languages the idea of blackness is fundamentally negative (e.g., black sheep, black-listed, black balled, etc.), as compared to what whiteness usually means (e.g., pure, goodness, not bad, a white lie). In the Songhay language (Songhay-Senni) blackness is fundamentally positive (e.g., wayne bibiblack sunwhen the sun reaches reaches its fullest expansion and highest point of the day; or hari bibiblack waterthe most potable, cleanest water in the deepest area of the Niger river that is far from the shore). Thus, language provides access to a peoples culture and worldview perspective.
African languages are foundational for contextualized teaching and learning about people of African descent. Using the indigenous Songhay language term makes it possible to interpret and distinguish the African practice of domestic servitude from the institution of chattel slavery. In Songhay-Senni barnya means slave, or the one who does not even have a mother, to be more precise. Prior to the arrival of Europeans (or Arabs), lineage-based domestic servitude existed on the African continent. People who had lost their freedom as a result of being taken captive in war or as punishment for a crime generally no longer had the protection of their clan or lineagetheir mothers people (Maiga, 2010).
The historian Basil Davidson compared this system of lineage-based domestic servitude in Africa with the forms of un-freedom that existed in medieval Europe. He suggested that more research is needed to understand the African experience of slavery from the point of view of the African mindset (King, 1992).
Might our ancestors who had been kidnapped and made chattel slaves have retained this cultural memory when they sang the spiritual: Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a l-o-o-o-n-g way from home? That there is no indigenous word for prison in the Songhay language (and other languages of West Africa) is also instructive.
This kind of deciphering analysis and interpretation of African peoples experience is possible when continental and Diaspora Africans work together to examine and reconnect our lived experienceswithin the terms of our own cultural reality.
Photo: Joyce King and Djibril Diallo
Thus, there is a potential for dislocation when we use the European Renaissance (French for re-birth) uncritically as a reference point and model to inspire and revive the formation of the United States of Africa envisioned by great PanAfricanists like Nkrumah, Sekou Touré, Modibo Keita, Cheikh Anta Diop, and Marcus Garvey.
Rather than citing the achievements of the Medici family and Leonardo da Vinci in 14th century Italy as models of cultural excellence, or the emergence of Western European humanism based on the stolen legacies of ancient Greek and Rome and which Aimé Césaire rightly critiqued, the Pan African challenge might be better understood within our own African terms and concepts.
For example, Wehem mesut (the repetition of births) refers to the Renaissance Era of ancient Egypt (Kemet). (Thanks to Tony Browder and Mario Beatty with the U.S. delegation for this translation.) Another relevant concept is Alasaal-Tarey in the Songhay language: the process through which we understand our origins as human beings in order to serve humanity (Maiga, 2010). For Diaspora Africans, of course, the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and the Négritude movement it helped to inspire exemplify our tradition of reconnecting with our great heritage for African unity. The ancient Nubian Renaissance as well as the restoration of the Kushite presence in Kemet (the Black Land) are other examples. I am inspired by the words of Hatshepsut (Foremost of Noble Women), the 5th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, who said:
I have raised up that which was in ruins.
I have restored that which was destroyed.
Inscription on the walls of Djeser-Djeseru, Nile Valley
We are indeed the first civilizers of humanity. For the benefit of Africas people in all Six Regions (North, South, East, West, Central and the Diaspora), we turn our attention to the centrality of culture and the role of cultural diversity in our development, which African humanisma true humanism. . . . made to the measure of the worldhas long recognized (Césaire, 1972/2000). This Criterion Standard offers a relevant perspective:
Africas known mineral wealth and other natural resources place it among the worlds richest continents. This remains so, in spite of successive periods of foreign occupation, imperialism, enslavement, and colonialism spanning millennia. The corresponding disconnect between African peoples and their resources is a key contributing factor to the continuing poverty and disempowerment experienced by African nations and African descent people in other countries. And the disconnect of Africas human and natural resources from Diasporic human and economic resources obstructs the self-actualization of each, while enriching the architects of this separation. Access to and control of African resources is central to foreign and domestic policy agendas of the worlds industrial nations and is a major factor in limiting Africas ability to achieve economic and political independence. (#19)
Therefore, what and how we teach about Africa and people of African descent, in the Diaspora and on the Motherland, needs to be changed to reflect our PanAfrican priorities.
* * * * *
III. Lest We Forget: The History That Is in the Present
Our ancestors did not wade through rivers of blood so that we might surrender the interpretation of their lives into the hands of others.Vincent Harding, There Is A River
Following the opening Forum on the Diaspora the other conference themes were the evidence of Egypts African heritage, African peoples permanent resistance, African achievements in science and technology, and Africas contributions to democracy and freedom. Convened under the auspices of President Abdoulaye Wade with the support of other African Union Heads of State, the Festival embraced the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: End poverty and hunger; Universal education; Gender equality; Child health; Maternal health; Combat HIV/AIDS; Environmental sustainability; and Global partnerships.
The U.S. delegation received certificates appointing us as Goodwill Ambassadors for the African Renaissance toward the formation of the United States of Africa and the achievement of these development goals. We must recognize, however, that none of us is truly developed unless we are all freed from what degrades African people and denies our humanity. In that regard, mis-education, particularly when it comes to teaching and learning about slavery, has been most harmful.
We do not start our story with slavery but with human history in Africa and our humanity as African people. This is what my teacher and friend, the great scholar Asa G. Hilliard III (Nana Baffour Amankwatia II) insisted is paramount in our work as educators. At the same time, we do have to remember what slavery was in order to know the truth about what has happened to us and where we go from here. There can be no true African Renaissance without this understanding.
I am a daughter of those enslaved Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas. I remember the stories told in my family about slavery. But for the most part, we experience ourselves, our history and our identity, through lies told to us and about us that make us feel ashamed. Meanwhile those who perpetrated and benefited from these crimes against us go about feeling superior with their heads held high. In addition to the evidence of humanitys origins in Africa, another magnificent truth we experienced at this conference is that African people are one big family. However, that reality is undermined by one of the most pernicious ways that our history has been used to divide African people: what our textbooks teach us about slavery. In school we learn that there never would have been any enslavement if Africans had not sold their own brothers and sisters into slavery.
This has left a gaping wound in our souls. Who among us would want to be African when we are taught that is what has been done to us?
Our response as Black intellectuals and Black Studies scholars has been to develop contextualized teaching materials that provide a truthful analysis of this historical dynamic. The point is to examine the indigenous African experience of servitude and enslavement before, during and after Arab and European slavery from the perspective of the African mindset as well as the enslavers and colonizers (King, 1992, 2005).
Let me share an experience I had in East Africain Nairobi, Kenya in 1985 when I attended the UN Decade of Womens conference. In Nairobi I met a student who was attending a play at the university with his auntwho was about my age. They invited me home with them to meet the rest of the family. After several evenings at their home, they also invited me to go with them to visit their grandfather in Pumwanione of the poorest sections of the city. When we entered the Elders home, he greeted everyone and he thought I was from somewhere right there in Kenya. The family quickly told him that I was from the United States.
Now, this elderly grandfather, living in the biggest so-called slum in the city, who had no formal education, and who had not studied African history or Black history, started to weep. Through tears, the old grandfather looked directly at me and said, Thank God! One of our daughters has come home. He explained how happy he was that one of the lost ones has come home. You should feel proud, he said. Dont ever feel ashamed of what has happened to you because you have a home here.
One of our daughters has come home. With this simple declaration this ordinary African elder, living among the poorest, most downtrodden, uneducated people in the great city of Nairobi, expressed the essence of African peoples humanity: the uninterrupted, unqualified, and profound importance of our family feeling, the importance of children down through the generations, and an utterly spontaneous affirmation that wherever we have ended up, we are still at home in Africawhere we still belong as African people.
What, on the other hand was slavery, that has made us feel so ashamed in the world Europeans created and brought us to in the Diaspora? In The Spirituals and the Blues, the theologian James Cone tells us slavery:
. . . meant being snatched from your homeland in a stinking ship . . . being regarded as property . . . working fifteen to twenty hours a day and being beaten for showing fatigue . . . It meant being whipped for crying over a fellow slave who had been killed for trying to escape . . .
We have endured the slave ship that was our ancestors floating prison, the incarceration of generations in the cotton, rice, tobacco, and indigo fields that produced the wealth of Europe and the Americas, and the 21st century modern slave ship the New Orleans Superdome became for our people who were abandoned during Hurricane Katrina (Rediker, 2007). In the U.S. today a cradle-to-prison mass incarceration policy imprisons a greater proportion of this societys population than any other nation and the rate of imprisonment for Black women is higher than any other group (Perkinson, 2010).
Will it require a United States of Africa to undo our dispossession and end our oppression?
IV. Recommendations for Action
In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed.Ella J. Baker, Educator and Black Freedom Struggle Activist
Dr. Iba Der Thiam organized a Working Group to develop recommendations and a concluding statement regarding the Festivals conference program to be presented to President Wade for his report to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January, 2011. Runoko Rashidi, Hassimi Maiga, Wade Nobles, Leonard Jeffries, Rosalind Jeffries, Ruth Love, and I were members of this Working Group, to which I submitted the following Recommendations for Action:
The African Union should organize and fund a Commission to oversee and establish teaching and learning standards for African education worldwidegiving particular attention, for example, to how slavery is taught and the worlds debt to Africa.
Translate/publish key scholarly texts in multiple languages, including selected African languages, with keen attention to the meanings and etymologies that are rooted in indigenous concepts and worldviews common to Africans.
Produce Best practices research focused on the Content and Methods of Black education worldwide, including instruction in African languages on the Motherland and in the Diaspora.
Engage youth, artists, and the Internet in popular and creative education and development campaigns that make broad cross-national use of the above resources, especially via new communications technologies and forums such as blogs, podcasts, and satellite conferencing and provide recognition and appropriate awards and prizes.
The Working Group also agreed to recommend that representatives of Africas Sixth Regionthe Diasporashould be appointed to participate in the deliberations of the African Union.
Finally, in various sessions and meetings, President Wade announced his own plans for action. He intends to establish a translation program in partnership with a publisher in the Diaspora, a Chair of Diaspora Studies at the University, and a film production studio. President Wade has already appointed a Minister for Diaspora Affairs. In addition, members of the U.S. delegation were appointed to serve as Goodwill Ambassadors for the African Renaissance toward the formation of the United States of Africaa central premise of the 3rd World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures.
V. Commentary and Reflections
. . .I am my mothers daughter and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.Mary McLeod Bethune, Educator
Beginning with the Forum on the Diaspora on Friday, December 10, the conferences brought together some of the most brilliant and dedicated thinkers, educators, artists, and activists across the African worldin one placeexchanging thoughts, path-breaking research findings, documentation and personal experiences with each other and with the audience from all parts of Africa and the Diaspora. Each days conference theme was amplified in an informative, visually stunning gallery display of documents and photos. We were comfortable in the expansive Le Méridien Hotel and Conference Center, built by the Saudis. The daily conference program (from 9:30 am past 6 pm) was so intense that the organizers had to interrupt the sessions because the translators, who were providing simultaneous translation through headphones in French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, and Spanish, literally could not continue the pace of these dense, scholarly presentations beyond their normal working hours. The quality and breadth of the scholarly presentations as well as supporting documentation and visual displays, like the dramatic, high-tech cultural extravaganza that opened the Festival was breathtaking .
I was very pleased to have been invited to present the key points from my paper on Black Education (summarized above) as part of the Diaspora Forum. I was both surprised and honored when Dr. Iba Der Thiam, President of the Scientific Committee in charge of the Structuring Conference program, and Dr. Djibril Diallo, Co-ordinator of the U.S. Festival Committee, called me from the audience to stand on the receiving line with Chief Benny Wenda of West Papua New Guinea and Dr. Theophile Obenga to welcome President Wade, and to join them on the dais to make another presentation. President Wade, an esteemed scholar in his own right, who participated actively in the conference program, chaired this session.
In the brief time allotted, I continued to discuss the problem of slavery from an educational standpoint. In my experience, this is a sensitive topic in mixed company (with Africans from the Motherland and the Diaspora) even among scholars. As during my previous presentation, however, the auditorium again erupted several times with humbling ovations. Later, when so many different people across the spectrum of participants sought me out to thank me or to congratulate me (or to say I just need to take you to my village), the sociologist in me became quite curious to know what exactly I had said that generated such seemingly unanimous enthusiasm among this diverse audience of Africansfrom the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, various African nations, Mexico, and Brazil as well as Turkey, and West Papua New Guinea!
During the next several days, when someone offered such appreciative comments, I asked politely if they could recall precisely what had touched them so deeply. Rich conversations usually followed. I spoke with the Senegalese sisters who have been living and working in the U.S., and who were part of our delegation, other African women and men leaders, professors, students, diplomats, researchers, and the African American contingent, including artists, journalists and politiciansas well as a persistently congenial bookseller from the Niger Republic, who claimed me as a cousin, at least in part, because of the Songhay jewelry I was wearing. (I claimed him as well because he looked exactly like my unclesmy grandmothers brothers.)
Before sharing a few of their comments, which underscore the importance of the above Recommendations for Action, let me begin with President Wades response to my presentation, and in particular to my observations about Africans selling their own brothers and sisters. It was actually quite gratifying that President Wades remarks echoed what I have written previously in various publications regarding textbook content and teaching about slaverywhich I had no time to delve into during the presentation (King, 1992, 1996, 2006). Moreover, as Sylvia Wynter (1990) has noted, technically, there were no Africans thenrather the peoples whom the Europeans encountered and kidnapped belonged to various African nations and clansthe Ashanti, Ewe, Fon, Wolof, Congo, for example.
Notwithstanding the cultural unity of the African continent, they did not identify themselves as Africans any more than the French, Dutch, Portuguese, or British embraced a common identity as Europeans who identified with that continent.
So, to claim that Africans were selling their own brothers and sisters, in the contemporary sense that we, as historically conscious Africans, use these terms today, functions as a particularly hurtful kind of (ideological) slander that is not grounded in an accurate reading of history. This in part and parcel of the intellectual warfare that denigrates everything that is African and elevates whatever is European (Carruthers, 1999). But there was no time for these details at the podium.
President Wade considered the issues of sufficient important that he took the time to address the topic of slavery head-onwhich was also the subject of the presentation Benins former President Soglo had also just addressed quite dramaticallywith large illustrations of the atrocities. President Wade said, We must tell the truth. Africans were involved in the slave trade and their involvement was morally wrong. But they were not the main reason for slavery nor would there have been a market without the pressure the Europeans exerted and the business enterprises they organized and financed and from which they derived great profit. Importantly, President Wade also emphasized the need to change what is taught in schoolsall the way up to the universitiesas did other presenters and participants.
Now, for the result of my informal audience queries: Generally, continental Africans who talked with me seemed to have been moved most deeply by my story about the elder grandfather in Nairobi who welcomed me home. Their comments expressed some degree of emotional relief, saying that I spoke the truth and said what needed to be said. That an African elder had spoken such healing words for the pain of what has happened also seemed to offer added cultural validationor even vindicationfor them.
On a slightly different but also emotional note, one of the Senegalese sisters traveling with us from New York told me of her pain as a mother raising her daughter in the U.S. She said Black American youngsters used to beat up her daughter in schooltraumatizing her with the taunt: Go back to the jungle. She thanked me for calling attention to the need to educate our children.
Another sister, a former African Ambassador in Europe, who thanked me for my presentation was also very eager to tell me about the annual Zomachi ceremony of Repentance organized by people in Benin, to acknowledge their part in the slave routes. Although we were speaking in English, when I mentioned how Black children in the U.S. have been made to feel ashamed of being African and are called names like jungle bunnies, unlike the Senegalese sister, this world-traveled diplomat had absolutely no clue about what these words meant.
African American colleagues in the delegation thanked me for representing us so well regarding such sensitive issues, with passion, but also in such a well-organized, scholarly, and concise presentation including specific recommendations for action given the intense pressure of limited time that we all experienced.
Finally, my new cousin, the Fulani bookseller from the Niger Republic, and I had a heartfelt exchange in the hotel lobby just before our delegation left to get the plane home. He had been in the auditorium each day. Pointing to his ear first then to his chest, he said my words went directly from the ear to the heart. When I asked why, he said, Your voice. What about my voice? He said, its not often that Africans have a chance to hear a woman speak aloud so forcefully and with such confidence and conviction. Women are sometimes shy around men and do not speak up (his opinion). I told him my mother always said when you are speaking to people, make sure that your voice really carries. His parting advice: Keep doing what your mother said. He thanked me again and I thanked him as we said good-bye.
Clearly, the audience responded to different registers of my presentations. More time was required for deeper conversations and further explorations. My point in sharing these reflections is that educators need opportunities to give concerted attention to teaching and writing about these sensitive and historically complex issues. This is actually the focus of much of my research and scholarship in collaboration with colleagues in the U.S., Mali (Maiga, 2005), Brazil (King, Gonçalves e Silva et al., in press), Senegal (Seck, 2005), and other Diaspora contexts. Do we even know the words to use to unlock the stranglehold of the legacy of slavery, colonialism, and historical division and dispossession on our identities and consciousness in our various social/historical contexts (e.g., Mexico, Turkey, Canada, Jamaica, the UK, etc.)?
How do we address these issues effectively with our children, other peoples children, teachers, parents, the broader public, civic leaders, or policy makersto convey what is wrong with our education and what we need to do to fix it? Can we employ a tone and tenor of conscientious accountability for our own wrongs and the paths toward healing first ourselves while we design enough spiritual and psycho-social space for setting right the wrongs done against us through white supremacy racism and colonization? The challenge becomes even more complex across national borders and cultural contexts even among African descent people within our one big family.
African American scholars and scholarship have a certain advantage to offer with regard to this Pan African agenda and challenge. Both President Wade and Dr. Thiam acknowledged and expressed their deep appreciation for the significant contributions to the Festival conference program made by the U.S. delegation scholars and activistsincluding Runoko Rashidi, Sheila Walker, Julius Garvey, Tony Browder, Mario Beatty, Shelby Lewis, Wade Nobles, Vera Nobles, Leonard Jeffries, Rosalind Jeffries, Hassimi Maiga, Frederic Bertley, Elsie Scott, Ron Daniels, and Ruth Love, among others.
In each session Diaspora panelists included these members of our delegation. One highlight of the Festival experience for me was being able to hear and talk with folks about their remarkable presentations. Another benefit was making new connections and reconnecting with other African and Diaspora colleagues and friends.
Also, the perspectives of the artists in the U.S. delegation like Ron Himes and Michael Simanga, as well as elected officials, journalists, veteran community activists, and leaders of our important cultural institutions, including Johnnetta B. Cole, John W. Franklin, and Howard Dodson, further enriched this experience.
This historic gathering gave the participants a rare opportunity to engage in long overdue dialogue about matters of great scholarly as well as social, cultural, economic, and political significance. For example, members of the audience repeatedly called for educational transformation via the incorporation of African languages in African education and the information presented in the conference program. Presentations of the evidence of the Africanity of ancient EgyptDiops work that Theophile Obenga eloquently contextualizedwere elegant and overwhelming. Mario Beatty noted that a new generation of researchers, who like him, can actually read the texts, needs no longer to depend on the (mis)interpretations of others. Anthony Browders dramatic presentation of the ASA Restoration Projectthe discovery and preservation of the 25th Dynasty tomb of Karakhamun, the ancient priest of Karnak Templereinforced his point. Shelby Lewis addressed ongoing scholarship uncovering the hidden resistance of those enslaved in Louisiana; others shed new light on the massacre of the returning World War II Senegalese soldiers (les tirailleurs the shooters).
Cultural resistance in folklore and music was examinedaccompanied by a Bob Marley song that energized the room. Ron Danielss update on the Haiti Support Project also highlighted the contributions of the Haitian Revolution to freedom and democracy. The role of women was evident in every conference theme. Another focus was repairing the wounds and depredations of slavery and colonialism, of particular concern to both Wade and Vera Nobles whose research documents the practice and psychology of African healing traditions. Rosalind Jeffriess paper illuminated and brought to life the symbolism and deep significance of African art understood as spiritually informed cultural practice. A recurring theme each day was how African people can recover our consciousness and use our knowledgeon our own cultural termsto build the United States of Africa together.
In conclusion, during this historic conference we affirmed our similarities and shared common concerns in myriad ways, while we also explored important differences in our experiences. Perhaps this gathering is reflected in the Ghanaian Ashanti/Adrinka symbol for unity in diversity, Funtummireku Denkyemmirrekuthe two-headed crocodile that fights for food eventually going to the same stomach. The Festival revealed our collective history and destiny that are in this present moment and not only our future and but human freedom also hang in the precarious balance. President Abdoulaye Wade has called us to action!
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Perkinson, R. (2010). Texas tough: The rise of Americas prison empire. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Rediker, M. (2007). The slave ship: A human history. New York: Penguin.
Seck, I. (2005). Worldwide conspiracy against Black culture and education. In J. King (Ed.), Black education: A transformative research and action agenda for the new century (pp. 285-290). New York: Routledge.
Wynter, S. (1990). Do not call us Negroes: How Multicultural Textbooks Perpetuate Racism. San Francisco, CA: Aspire Books.
Joyce E. King, PhD., holds the Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning and Leadership in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She served as a member of U.S. FESMAN planning Committee (chaired by Dr. Molefi Asante) and the planning committee for the Diaspora Forum (President Runoko Rashidi, Vice-President, Sheila Walker). She is the Editor, Black Education: A Transformative Research and Action Agenda for the New Century
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African Renaissance Monument
The African Renaissance Monument is a 49m tall bronze statue outside of Dakar, Senegal. Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam suburb, the statue was designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby after an idea presented by president Abdoulaye Wade and built by a company from North Korea. Site preparation on top of the 100-meter high hill began in 2006, and construction of the bronze statue began 3 April 2008 . . . formal dedication occurred on 4 April 2010, Senegal’s “National Day”, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from France.Wikipedia
Senegal colossus proves sore pointArt-lovers have also expressed concern. For some it has a Stalinist feel reminiscent of communist regimes, while others simply say it has no real soul or African appeal. “To have a work of art in the town, it’s very good. The only thing is, for me, it’s not typically African,” says Alassane Diagne, an art promoter in Dakar. “I don’t understand why we didn’t have an African artist.”
Joel Dussy Fall, the owner of one of the country’s best-known art galleries is also confounded by the fact it was not designed and built in Africa. . . . However, the project has its defenders, including painter Kalidou Kasset, who believes it can only do good for the arts scene.
“We have a problem with large monuments in the cultural field . . . and the artists have always denounced that situation,” he says. “So if structures are built, it only can make the Senegalese artists happy and there’s not a single large monument to visit in Dakar, so I believe this has come at the right time.” Aliou Sow, a government minister, argued when the ruckus first began that the land used to build the monument was sitting unused and drying under the sun. President Wade should be praised for making good use of it, he said. But the reactions which followed prompted him to join the rest of the government and keep quiet. Well, quiet at least until next April when the monument is to be officially unveiled during a ceremony the government wants to be “big” and “memorable”.BBC
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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A Transformative Research and Action Agenda for the New Century
Edited by Joyce E. King
This volume presents the findings and recommendations of the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Commission on Research in Black Education (CORIBE) and offers new directions for research and practice. By commissioning an independent group of scholars of diverse perspectives and voices to investigate major issues hindering the education of Black people in the U.S., other Diaspora contexts, and Africa, the AERA sought to place issues of Black education and research practice in the forefront of the agenda of the scholarly community. An unprecedented critical challenge to orthodox thinking, this book makes an epistemological break with mainstream scholarship. Contributors present research on proven solutionsbest practicesthat prepare Black students and others to achieve at high levels of academic excellence and to be agents of their own socioeconomic and cultural transformation.
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As an education historian and former assistant secretary of education, Ravitch has witnessed the trends in public education over the past 40 years and has herself swung from public-school advocate to market-driven accountability and choice supporter back to public-school advocate. With passion and insight, she analyzes research and draws on interviews with educators, philanthropists, and business executives to question the current direction of reform of public education. In the mid-1990s, the movement to boost educational standards failed on political concerns; next came the emphasis on accountability with its reliance on standardized testing. Now educators are worried that the No Child Left Behind mandate that all students meet proficiency standards by 2014 will result in the dismantling of public schools across the nation. Ravitch analyzes the impact of choice on public schools, attempts to quantify quality teaching, and describes the data wars with advocates for charter and traditional public schools.
Ravitch also critiques the continued reliance on a corporate model for school reform and the continued failure of such efforts to emphasize curriculum. Conceding that there is no single solution, Ravitch concludes by advocating for strong educational values and revival of strong neighborhood public schools. For readers on all sides of the school-reform debate, this is a very important book.Vanessa Bush
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By Paul Tough
What would it take? That was the question that Geoffrey Canada found himself asking. What would it take to change the lives of poor childrennot one by one, through heroic interventions and occasional miracles, but in big numbers, and in a way that could be replicated nationwide? The question led him to create the Harlem Children’s Zone, a ninety-seven-block laboratory in central Harlem where he is testing new and sometimes controversial ideas about poverty in America. His conclusion: if you want poor kids to be able to compete with their middle-class peers, you need to change everything in their livestheir schools, their neighborhoods, even the child-rearing practices of their parents. Whatever It Takes is a tour de force of reporting, an inspired portrait not only of Geoffrey Canada but also of the parents and children in Harlem who are struggling to better their lives, often against great odds. Carefully researched and deeply affecting, this is a dispatch from inside the most daring and potentially transformative social experiment of our time.
Paul Tough is an editor at the New York Times Magazine and one of America’s foremost writers on poverty, education, and the achievement gap. His reporting on Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 31 December 2010