Yet, they gave me something valuable. They taught me to love myself and reinforced my self-worth in a culture that insisted that I was nothing, dirty, and worthless.
They exposed me to the power, the brilliance, and the beauty of Black people. They made sure that I knew Black people were not just slaves. And most of all, my Dad made sure that I understood that history books strategically and willfully omitted the truth about Black contributions to perpetuate the myth of white supremacy and superiority.
I am so grateful to my parents. Because even when White teachers told me I was dumb and even when white kids bullied and degraded me, there was a sweet knowing in my soul that I was royalty.
My parents made sure that I knew I was powerful, valuable, and worthy of respect. They shared stories that challenged the many lies I learned in history books so that I would remember that I was the descendants of a royal people who were inventors, innovators, leaders, and wisdom-givers.
That sweet knowing gave me the power to endure adversity, violence, and abuse from teachers and students. From kindergarten through second grade, I was kicked in the back, spat on in the face, hit in the head with a chair by a teacher, pushed down steps, punched in the stomach, and consistently called nigger by my classmates…..all before I entered the 3rd grade.
I was humiliated daily, and at times, I found it difficult to learn. Even today, I still cry for the younger me who was forced to endure so much pain while adults – teachers, school nurses, and principals – looked the other way. To White adults, constant violence and abuse were warranted. Why? Because my parents enrolled me in “their” schools.
I was wounded, but praise God, my wounds didn’t win. Praise God that my parents gave me the ammunition to neutralize and challenge the lies that tried to confine me to a life of mediocrity, misery, and marginalization. Praise God for the Black Churches that taught scripture and Black History side by side so that Black children would know that we had a place in God’s Kindom ( not kingdom…patriarchy has no place in my life).
Happy Black History Month!
And during this precious but short month, I pray all people will take the time to learn, discover, and remember the truth about the wealth, brilliance, beauty, tenacity, diversity, and love found in the histories, experiences, and lives of Black people.