Monday, December 5, 2011

Is Reading Really Good For The Black Mind?

Knew I'd get your attention...

This may seem like a no brainer to answer but there is something that lies at the very core of our problem as a whole that is almost directly linked to the ability for us to read and write.

Let us build...

Here is some information I found on the internet about when Blacks were first allowed to attend public school.

"The first schools for Negroes were private ones, which preceded public schools everywhere. Samuel Thomas undertook the instruction of certain Negroes in the Goose Creek Parish in Charleston, South Carolina, as early as 1695. Elias Neau founded a school for slaves in New York, on May 20, 1704. In 1758, the Anglican-affiliated Associates of Dr. Bray opened a school for free blacks in Philadelphia. The African Free School was an institution founded by the New York Manumission Society on November 2, 1787. It was founded to provide education to children of slaves and freemen. But education for blacks was very different when it came to the ***** slaves of the South. Even though schools had been set up in even the most remote counties of each of the confederate states by 1867, by the 1830s, it was a criminal offense in most Southern states to teach a slave to read or write. Things gradually began to improve in the South after the Civil War. But it wasn't until May 17, 1954 that the Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that racial segregation in public schools unconstitutionally deprives students of equal educational opportunities. This ruling paved the way for significant opportunities in our society—especially for equal justice, fairness, and education.

Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University is the oldest African American school of higher education, although degrees were not granted from Cheyney until 1913. The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate people of African descent. Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764, where he became concerned about the struggles of free African Americans to make a living. News of a race riot in 1829 prompted Humphreys to write his will, in which he charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution "to instruct the descendents of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers...."

From as early as the 1600s, it seems that African Americans had access to public education.  So learning how to read and write, which are two basic staples of education in Western society, has existed for quite some time.  Even though for a large majority of African Americans who were subject to less than human living conditions, learning how to read and write was not only rare, it was fiercely prohibited.  "Slave owners" felt that this would be counter productive to the very reasons they purchased "slaves" for in the first place.

Not to get into a lecture about "slavery" so I'll get into my point...

Reading has always been a very important aspect of Western society and many African Americans took great risks and sacrificed much so that future generations would be able to navigate through society without the barriers and limitations that they had.  Learning how to read allowed the African American and all other immigrants who came to the shores of America the opportunity to carve out a means and a method for a "better life" for themselves and for their families.  The road wasn't a smooth one but in the end, most would think, in light of the fact that there is an African American president in office today, that is was well worth it.

But is there a dark side to knowing how to read?

I talk to a large number of parents and educators who always stress the importance of a child learning how to read.  In quick thought, it only makes sense for one who is being groomed in the ways of society, Western society.  It is only upon further introspection that one can see that it isn't all roses and glory when the African American masters the process of reading in the English language.

When we look into the origins of the English language we find that most say it developed a little after the year 600 AD.  You find that Latin as well as Nordic had a lot of early influence in the development of the language and that after a period of time the language was divided into three major eras (Olde English, Middle English and Early Modern English).  It was here that the major structuring and propagation of the language took place.

But I digress...

In looking deeper into the origins of the language of English, you do NOT see any ties to African or even Asiatic tongues which were much older and upon deeper research actually gave birth to all the European languages through migration and mixing in.  So in essence, the English language was not developed with the African in mind.

So why is it so important to learn, study and master this language?  Why is it so important to stress learning to read at such an early age?

For the parent or educator concerned with the progress of the African American child, the first thought is so that the child has a better chance at "success" in Western society.  

However, the true reality is that the sooner the English language has matriculated into the minds and psyche of the youth, the easier it will be for that child to develop the Western concept of thought.  Reading in the English language is also important to this process because throughout the entire history of the European, much time was spent writing books, scripting tales, poems, stories and scriptures so that the European would become the authority on all things.  

Remember, the library at Alexandria was burnt down which contained the ORIGINAL scrolls and texts that told the TRUE accounts of history, their story and OUR story.  That is why whenever we see a show or documentary on any culture or part of Earth, you see the European as the major presenter.  Even if an African American voice is narrating, the language is English which cycles through the mindset of the European.

Whatever language you are raised speaking will be the language that you think through.  The language that you think through develops and shapes your consciousness.  Whomever is the mother and father of the language that you think through is who your mind will be shaped after.  What does this mean?  If you think through the language of English, your mind state will be developed after the mind state of the father's of English who are all European, so you will think like the European (no matter how you want to interpret it).  

So, I'll ask my question again with a little more added...Is reading in the English language really good for the Black mind?

1 comment:

  1. Children should first learn to read in the language they first learn to speak if they hope to develop fluency in any language. I think it's the concepts we convey rather than the language we use that has the most influence.