Tag Archives: education

Stop Medicating Black Boys

When I made the decision to homeschool my preschooler, he wasn’t a hyper child. Only when he attended a two-day-a-week preschool program did I continually get reports and brazen pressure about how hyper and disruptive my little boy was. My son listens well at home and is very calm and focused. I routinely take him to opera shows and on 3 hour train rides to Toronto to see family while he behaves like a little gentleman. Not perfect, but still quite exemplary. My son is full of energy because he’s a normal, kinesthetic boy.

The town I live in is notorious for medicating the children in their conventional schools. Our beloved next door neighbour, a lovely 7 year old girl who plays hockey and does ballet has been diagnosed with ADHD and started her medication a few days ago. She is like a shell of the vivacious girl who would come over and play hide and seek with my son. Another neighbour’s son is on his third brand of medication. Teachers and teaching assistant’s are crying ADHD, it seems, at the first fidget or the first interruption. And if there is absolutely one thing we must fight, it’s our children being misdiagnosed and placed on these serious medications.

When my son gets hyper or antsy, I’ve come up with a few natural ways to kind of bring him down a few levels.

  1. Turn off the lights, light a few candles, play some calming music. You can add lavender to a diffuser for an even more relaxing effect. I ask my son nicely to please calm his body and mind.
  2. Go for a walk or do some physical activity outside.
  3. Taking a screen/technology break. This is a hard one because I am in school online, and the courses require me to check my email and talk to my professors and do a ton of work on the computer. I’m constantly glued to my screens so putting them all way (phone included) after checking things in the morning helps us stay focused.
  4. Give my son one-on-one attention. Playing with cars, colouring together and being silly on the carpet really helps with misbehaviour.
  5. Not rush. I make sure we get to karate class 15-20 minutes early, and we read a few books and get changed in a very laid-back manner.
  6. Ask him to “look at me” when I’m speaking so he’s focused on what I’m saying.
  7. Having a routine helps a lot.
  8. Making sure to go over the “rules” before we enter any establishment (library, grocery store), before I make a phonecall or when someone visits our home.
  9. Allowing my son lots of time to run and play. Accepting he will be loud, messy and unpredictable and making sure he has opportunities and do these things appropriately.
  10. Hugs and kisses. Sometimes my son expects me to be furious with him, and he completely stops the madness when I just pull him in for some love.

It’s up to us to make sure our children are not being medicated just because they may be a bit difficult. Children were never meant to be perfect mini adults. Our children may not listen to us sometimes, but they will follow what we do. So don’t give up on them, or they will give up on themselves.

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Twi Progress

Learning an African language is an important aspect of reAfricanization and one I take so seriously that I don’t even want English spoken in my house, just Asante Twi or other African dialects (I’m dating an African man who speaks both Twi and Yoruba). Learning an African language isn’t easy because I do not have the opportunity to practice my Asante Twi very often since I live in a small, rural town. 

However, if you are dedicated to learning an African language, there is a lot of resources and all it takes is determination, practice and discipline. I found that this comprehensive website is very thorough and has a lot of information, as well as being a reAfricanization website who’s purpose is to assist the African in the Diaspora in their journey. Here Here is a basic Twi language website that’s great because it has pronunciation from an African, and not some random bot. 

  There are a number of Asante Twi and other language apps. I use Twi Junior which is good for beginners, and Twi Proverbs which is just nice to have. My goal is to memorize the Asante proverbs I like. I also listen to Ghanaian music on YouTube although it’s not 100% certain the songs are all in that dialect, but the music is actually good and upbeat and puts me in the right mind frame when I’m studying Twi. The best tutorial on YouTube is GoldCoastDebuty. She makes learning Twi fun! 

I hope to be fluent in Asante Twi by Kwanzaa this year, and I believe in everybody young and old who are reconnecting with their African roots! We can do this! 
 

On Struggle and Genius

   Today is a balmy, hot day and I sat under a tree reading Du Bois’ Immortal Child, which raises the question if Black people, while having the burden of oppression upon them should bring Black children–hated by the world–into this world? And he says, but yes! They are our future, the progress of the Black race and freedom is to be tasted by our children’s children. And, it is our responsibility to educate them and provide a quality life “with reasonable sacrifice”.

  It is that reasonable sacrifice I was stuck thinking about. I, being a single mother, struggle daily. But the struggle for liberation and the struggle out of oppression is different; it is a struggle with purpose. Working to pay tuition for university and studying late at night after a plain rice dinner and little time with my child is sacrifice, for a greater cause and future. It is not the same as struggling in a dead end job and living in the slums with no hope in sight.

   That struggle is of great significance. Even if other people are able to buy houses, cars and earn a degree with ease, it is still crucial that Black  men and women do so too, at any cost. And if these things are truly next to impossible, we must make sure that isn’t so for the next generation. The struggle in the climb out of oppression is not a permanent one. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and in the light you are clothed in respectability, stature and excellency.

   We must, all who are struggling through school or entrepreneurial endeavors, tap into our innate creativity and genius and forge ahead, at all costs. We must not shirk sacrifice for the instant gratification of luxe items, of nice things to have and trendy places to be. We must be more frugal and scrupulous than the Jew, more family-oriented than the Mexican, and mode determined in hard work than the Russian so we too may enjoy a higher place in this world. And not as an anomaly, but as a concentrated and conscious worldwide effort of people of African origin; for Black liberation rests upon those who are self- determined and motivated, to uplift the rest.

    As I look somewhat uneasily towards another unpredictable school year, I think of all my African comrades who are getting up in the early dawn and trudging forward despite the odds against us. In our not-so-trendy clothes, not so trendy meals and perhaps not so glamorous life. The glory and honor will come to us, as we have earned it. Let’s not be bitter or complain, just get through and manifest genius and success in our personal lives.
  

Homeschooling

  Homeschooling is a hot topic in the Black community right now. This past few months I’ve read several articles on Black families that choose to homeschool, as well as a variety of posts in the  Black Twitter community. I didn’t consider homeschooling for my own son before this week because I considered it to be too laborious and too difficult to schedule as a single mother. But after seeing several other university-educated single mothers with Black children homeschool their children, I realize it is possible. Money is tight, but knowledge abounds.

    I am able now to homeschool my 2.5 year old son because I’m in school, working towards a degree. I somehow flesh out time to be his facilitator and devote to my studies. My son is very young and our educational approach is Reggio Emilia play-based. Although, as an English major with a love for books, we do spend a lot of time reading. Particularly Afro-centric themed books, and books about acceptance and the environment.

   When we are not reading, we are gardening, cooking together and going for long nature walks in the forest. We count and play using loose parts and natural materials, and do a lot of arts and crafts, and puppet shows. For socialization, we have play time scheduled with another Black conscious family; and go to a play group once a week. On Fridays, it is my “day off” and my son attends daycare for the day.

    As he gets older, I will homeschool him formally. I reject the public school because it does not represent my son in their Euro-centric worldviews, it tends to criminalize and harshly discipline my child or give him inadequate attention, treat him as “other”; as well, living in a rural town with few Black children, my son faces racially motivated bullying. If I lived in my hometown, 3 hours away, I would not need to homeschool my son because there are many wonderful alternative and progressive schools. However, until I graduate, I will be homeschooling.

Black Extinction

Africans can only rise when we cease self-loathing and return to Ubuntu and self-love -Ama Biney

I recently perused through an Instagram account of unbelievably beautiful children from a Mixed Babies Contest page that had over 75,000 followers and various parents vying to get their cute kids featured for hundreds, likely a few thousand likes.

And, yes, biracial and multiracial children are beautiful. So are White children. And Aboriginal children. And Hispanic children, too. You know what other children are beautiful? Black children are beautiful. And if we think we are doing our children a favour by making them less Black, well yes, life will probably be easier for them with Europeanized features and silkier hair.

But that’s not the point! If I had my son after I became consciously Black, I’d have the Blackest, most African kid out there. My child would be Black mixed with Black as F#@%. We all seem to think lighter is better, but if all our biracial children choose non-Black partners…what will happen to the Black race in just one or two generations? We will cease to exist, and no KKK had to put a rope around our necks.

  I’m not saying divorce your White husband and go find Djimon Hounsou, and have 6 babies. I am saying that the Black family is dysfunctional and we need to come together, have our Black children and raise them proud of their deeply rich, hued skin. We need to stop fetishizing biracial children and start paying attention to the beauty of our own selves and the beauty of Black children. All love is beautiful, but if you want to continue having the opportunity to marry a Black woman or man, you’ll need Black women and men around in the future.

    We need to love ourselves, and teach our children that Black is Beautiful. So they can marry whoever they fall in love with, and not rule a Black woman or man out.

Zai is Forever

In one account of Queen Nzinga’s life, she writes, “…Friends may betray you, mansions and servants may go; but zai (Knowledge) is forever”. This is true, what you learn cannot easily be extracted from your mind and it is up to us as Black adults to teach our young  queens and kings to love themselves and to know their history, before they learn to hate themselves and take part in a prevailing culture that downplays, ignores or misrepresents the Black people’s contributions and rich history.

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   It is imperative to provide literature for our young  queens and kings that represent their history, culture and faces. I did not grow up reading Rachel Isadora or books about Africa. I grew up reading Madeline and Caillou, and then series like Sweet Valley High. So, I’ve begun to stockpile dozens of Afro-centric children’s books for my son to cherish and read on his bookshelf. Knowledge is power.

 

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  Knowledge is power, and books are weapons. This may very well be why these books were kept out of our libraries. What will happen if a Black boy or girl reads empowering books and gains knowledge of how beautiful, strong, resourceful and intelligent Black people really are? That they can accomplish anything? That they do not  have to accept the things they cannot change, but change the things they cannot accept? It will be nothing short of a revolution, and we owe it to our children to implant the seeds of knowledge and inspiration in their minds. For they will move mountains.