Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Keeping a Child in a Child’s Place

In Culture, justice, life, media, News on February 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

There was a time when people used to say “A child needs to stay in a child’s place.” However, with changinchildreng times came a change in philosophies on how to properly rear children. In the process of adopting new parenting strategies, children have been allowed to enter the realm of adulthood seemingly all too soon. The damages of such changes are unfortunately more far reaching than current society seems to believe. Exposing children to adult situations and environments before they are mature enough to understand them is a danger to their futures.

My friend and I were discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the affair accusations that have come to the public eye over recent years. While she contends that exposing the flaws of Dr. King and other leaders makes them seem more human  and realistic, I object to the concept, arguing that the preservation of black culture is essential especially considering that society has done so much in attempts to negate the role of black people in the development of this country. There is no denial that the truth about people deserves to be known; however, bringing forth this type of information to children who are not mature enough to separate the mission from the imperfection is what has caused so many young people to show a lack of respect for our ancestors. The end result is no preservation of black culture and history, a lack of identity for the forthcoming generation, inability to recognize systems of injustice and disorder, making a mockery of important history, allowing others to disrespect our culture and history and destroying the morals of our people. Though Dr. King may have had imperfections, what is most important is that he was willing to die for a cause that changed the face of this country. The internal moral conflicts he faced are far more difficult for a child to understand than for adults. Therefore, we must be cautious about how and when we expose children to the more complicated aspects of life.

A bigger concern is that it seems as we if thrive on discovering disheartening things about black world and community leaders. We often use these flaws to justify our own shortcomings.  Finding imperfections in others will not validate self, and this is an unhealthy trait to pass to the next generation. The dishonorable choices of one individual does lessen the effects of mistakes made by another. Therefore, we must focus on showing our children all the things that were done correctly and tell them of people who recovered resiliently despite mistakes and imperfections.  We must protect their innocence, for exposing them to too much too soon forces them into an arena of life for which they may not be prepared. It also creates a distorted perception that reckless behavior is acceptable because even the most admired people have secrets, instead of teaching them that in the journey of life we will experience obstacles which we must strive to conquer and if one should err, their mistakes do not cancel their calling.

As I have grown in age and wisdom, I have gained an understanding of why it is important for a child to be in a child’s place. Placing them in the midst of topics and sharing information with them that they are not mature enough to understand is a threat to their potential success. Children are not equipped to understand and handle situations in the same manner that adults should be. They are fragile vessels who absorb as much information as possible and use it to determine their actions and views on life. Most of them are not experienced enough to sift the negative and positives in a situation. Thus, we must do this for them and teach the basics before life becomes complicated. Besides, the struggles of the adult world will come soon enough; let us protect their minds while we can.


Why Black History Should Never Make Black People Bitter

In Culture, life, media, News, Race on February 22, 2015 at 8:44 am

The images in Selma made me cringe as I watched the dramatic images of black people being abused and murdered as they struggled for the right to vote. It was hurtful to know that black people alone were not valued enough to be granted the right to vote. The thought that they had to unite forces with their white counterparts in order to actually be considered reminded me of the struggles black people still face today. For a few days, my black power personality was mellowed down and I was seething anger with I have seen, heard and read so many times. While the images in this box office hit were nothing new, my feelings seemed to be even more intense as I considered the recent troubling race relations in America. As I drove home from the movie, I had a hard time trying to regain composure and think about what has always made me feel so much love for my culture. My admiration for civil rights workers, abolitionists, revolt leaders and everyday survivors of slavery and the Jim Crow Era was far deeper than black pride; I felt obligated use writing as a tool reach the masses as a sign of reverence for my predecessors. However the movie momentarily reminded me of the brutality of being black in America. I temporarily forgot a much more important lesson: black history should never make me bitter.

The gruesome images that replayed in my mind temporarily overshadowed the most important point of black history. Black people suffered for hundreds of years, but were always resilient, finding ways to make something out of nothing and smile in the worse conditions. They lived optimistically in a society that designed a system to block any opportunity for advance or freedom. Yet, despite these manmade barriers, Frederick Douglass and many others were determined to learn to read. He went on to become an abolitionist and author during a time when black people were killed for such “atrocities.” Though Harriet Tubman could not read and had no maps, she found the road to freedom and help over 300 others find the same pablack-history-monthth. And though death threatened hundreds of thousands, even millions, of slaves and black people, they fought, ran, and spoke up for freedom. As I recounted the numerous stories I had read and the stories that were told to by my elders, I was disappointed that I let emotions override my logic when understanding how profound my ancestors were despite their situation.

Black history should never make black people bitter. It should, however, arouse a sense of moral obligation to salute those who will never receive the accolades deserved. Through actions of gratitude, like supporting movements that continuously elevate black progress and unity, the work of my ancestors is respected. The fact that black people who died while fighting for civil rights and accepted the monstrous task before them with the understanding that they may die should be given even more respect that the constantly marveled story of the Holocaust. But, it is not. Perhaps the irony of this is that those who died for the cause probably knew they would never be American heroes and they never tried to be. They only tried to fight and live. With this in consideration, one should not be angered but instead, inspired. It is rare that individuals are willing to sacrifice life for the sake of people they may never know and for a cause that may never yield the results desired.

The movie Selma forced me to revisit my history books and take the time to reflect on what my black ancestors mean to the development of this country, their descendants and me. My displeasure melted as I re-read about the talented writing ability of Phyllis Wheatley, the innumerous inventions of Dr. George Washington Carver, and the accomplishments of Dr. Maya Angelou. I have committed myself to being more like my ancestors who gave selflessly for the benefit of the future. I have obligated myself to be a better mother to my son, teacher to my students and citizen in my community. For the mission of my predecessors was not for their descendants to live in anger, but to be socially and culturally cognizant of the sacrifices made for equality and freedom. They wanted their losses and legacies to pave the way for a race that is better, not bitter.

Why Black History Should Never Make Black People Bitter…

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Why Black History Should Never Make Black People Bitter….

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