By: Chief Nyah Akerele
How many African’s and Indigenous individuals can recall our colonial education offering a true perspective on how this country, the United States of America, was founded? How many of us can remember the books we were read as children that offered affirmations of who we were as African or Indigenous people? Who were our childhood heroes or heroines? Who did we aspire to grow up and emulate? What were the causes we adopted so early in life as “noble”, “honorable”, or “brave”? What types of behavior did we view as “criminal”? What types of stores did we find comical? To what did we cling that paralleled to our indigenous cultures? What did we see in the media and read in our children’s books that made us love being us?
Many of us that were born in the late 70s and 80s make up the millennial generation and grew up with Disney, Nickelodeon, Dr. Sues, Marvel superheroes and so forth. Very few of those characters, if any, were African or Indigenous and even if they were, the narrative was skewed to such a degree that it made the oppressor look like the hero, such as in the Disney version of Pocahontas.
To further what we learned in our educational settings, the story was never that our people fought for our freedom. It was delivered to us that our freedom in this country had to be earned and that it was a privilege to be born in the US of A.
Those of you who are familiar with Dr. Amos Wilson may also be familiar with his book The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child. In that text, Wilson discusses education and how it relates to culture. He said “Schools, whether primary, secondary, collegiate, vocational, etc. are cultural products and are established to maintain and advance a cultural way of life. Schools exist for culture, not the other way around.” He goes on to make some very important points, but this highlights the importance of the need of African and Indigenous families to read books to their children that reflect their character, their values, and their culture. Our very identity depends on it.
Somewhere in the literature and world of mental health, research purports that personality is fixated by the age of 5. Furthermore, culture has shaped your personality, your perspectives, your inclination to what music you like or the food you’ll want to eat, and even the type of partner you will seek one day. It also plays a huge role in who and what you will view as honorable, noble, brave, and good.
How wonderful would it be if the very first book an African child learns to read would be an alphabet book written and published by African people that highlights the heroic work and achievements of our Revolutionaries? What African child shouldn’t know of Huey P. Newton—or Assata Shakur—Malcolm X—by the age of 5? What African child shouldn’t honor the African flag given to us by the Honorable Marcus Garvey?
Only when we tell our story and imbue our children with their culture and history will they grow up armed with how to navigate away from a world of colonialism and build a foundation for a society that supports who in the fuck they are!
Your Indigenous child should want to destroy the settlers that ravaged their land and put them on concentration camps we know as Reservations. A colonial education will never tell the historical perspective from the colonized because they need them to continue to feel in a position of inferiority. What if that indigenous child was read books and education that reflected their own culture and told their own story? Our children don’t need to read stories that subliminally teach them to hate themselves and befriend their enemy.
African children should be taught to read and the examples and first poems they learn should embody concepts that reflect a liberated world and the examples of Africans who selflessly fought to provide that freedom for them. By way of the Political Education and Culture Command, Black Hammer is bringing to the masses a series of children’s and young African, Indigenous, and Colonized people’s books that provide literacy, culture, and values that are important and essential to us! It is believed that you can begin reading to your baby while still in the womb. How dope would it be to have an alphabet book that rhymes about how A is for Assata and a poem that recognizes her as the badass fiery Revolutionary that she is?
The books will highlight our authentic veterans, not sell out, neo-colonialist who seems to be the face of Black leadership—sorry Barack Obama! The books will offer an alternative to what the colonial school system poisons our children day after day. While we may not be at a point where we can totally pull our children out of the colonial school system yet, we still as parents, godparents, TT’s, uncles/ Tios, Big Mamas/ Abuelas, granddaddies/ Abuelos have the primary responsibility of education our children and helping them to make sense of this imperialist-run world. The world will force them to see it if we fail to. If you want to donate to help support the cost of publishing and manufacturing the book, please cash app $BHBookclub. If you want to join Black Hammer, please visit www.blackhammer.org/sign-up
Reference: The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child Second Edition; Dr. Amos Wilson; pg. 231