My Self Esteem as a Descendant of American Slavery
Like many baby boomers in 2017, I can look back and see more than two generations of history. I can see it through and recall the vastness of what the world has become since around 1950. I can also break this down for my country, state, city, and neighborhood where I was raised. I was lucky to have two elements in the home I was raised in before my parents separated and divorced around the age of ten. 1. Shared histories of our family’s history enough that it was a common conversation from grandparents to parents to the children. 2. A race-based pride supported by a visible work effort by my mother and father to make ends meet in the face of segregation's impact on our humanity and on finances to run a home.
My mother had a college degree that was helpful though she was still underemployed and underpaid for the same services that her white peers were given. She hustled by creating her secretary service to help with finances. My father worked three jobs his entire life and build a private bottle club nightclub showing his entrepreneurial skills. My two brothers and I were taught pride above all for the facts of our families' struggle with American racism. It wasn’t a perfect agenda by any means but We understood that Cinque and Yanga were soldiers for our freedom. That Anna Cooper and Mary Bethune were smarter than Eleanor Roosevelt, that Frederick Douglass was more of a man than Abraham Lincoln. On a family visit to Houston as a child, my cousin schooled me on how much better Josh Gibson was than Babe Ruth.
This concept of extended family heritage is part of why I founded African American Registry®. To publish an open, infinite menu of normalized blackness. To place us as a people on fair terms that could be woven into the minds and hearts of E12 classrooms and communities worldwide. Education is the most powerful entity available to any individual, it comprises more than literacy, writing/computation, and mathematics; to complete the balance we must include education of self. As descendants of American slavery, segregation, and (most important) laws; African America, in general, has had to work harder for access to all four components of this right of citizenship.
Yet beyond the examples of African American self-esteem from the facts of over 500 years of information comes a simple statement from a colleague and friend about four years ago. She is Thomasina Petrus, singer, actress, entrepreneur, and mother. The play ‘Daughters of Africa’ that she was cast in gave her the experience to make the following statement that in my view ends any debate about the valid connection between self-esteem and American slavery. She says, “each one of us is here because a black woman chose to live through the middle passage”. This speaks to the constitution, millennials, African immigrants, Sankofa, and more and makes the self-esteem of my heart and mind smile.
by B. Mchie