Too many Cs: Thoughts on Junteenth

For a teacher at this time of year, the “C” is the truce between students, families and herself that says…’well, you are average’…I guess but it hardly ever means that to me. A C means you were less able to take advantage of opportunities to stand out and be noticed and perhaps that is fine in a system that wasn’t truly designed for you to shine any way…

Valuation (like evaluation) are judgments that mean very little in the economy of self if it is coming from a place that feels foreign…from a place that doesn’t feel like home…from a place that doesn’t hug you back when you wrap your whole being into it…we have nothing to be ashamed of and yet we feel shame.

I was asked the other day by a fellow educator to make suggestions for summer reading about Black History…I thought for several days…this is my response:

There is no singular, high quality book or set of resources on Black history. Sadly, colonization and conquest has divided the story of Black people; caste, capitalism and colorism forfeit the alliance of the people in preference for specific places and spaces…for proximity to whiteness.

I offer a short list of books that I think are magnificent but still so incomplete. There is fiction and other writing (essay, poetry, biography) that I think are important too. Amistad attempts to put all of this together but it is incomplete because it doesn’t make this point clearly.

Suggested book titles: Lerone Bennett’s Before the Mayflower; W.E.B. DuBois’ Souls of Black Folks; Patricia Hills Collins Black Feminist Theory; Ibram Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning; Ethan Michaeli’s The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America; Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy; Keisha Blaine & Ibram Kendi’s Four Hundred Souls

Poets: Countee Cullen and Gwendolyn Brooks

Artists: Gordon Parks and Ernie Barnes

And

Biographies of Black women every human should know: Anna Julia Cooper; Ida B. Wells; Mary McCleod Bethune; Sadie Alexander

There are too many perspectives divided by our pain and our joy

There are too many voices that publishers refuse to elevate

There are too many stories to flatten who we are into a single moment, volume or day…our histories on other continents outside of North America are LONG, rich and complex…

We owe it to ourselves to commemorate THAT fact…that we have lived before this short journey on this land…

We are not average, we are great and our value can never be counted.

Links in this piece are there to guide additional inquiry…

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