Children Learn What They Live – Teaching Afrocentric Values on the Home Front
by Aminisha Black
The major cultural difference between Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism is “we” vs. “I”. Seeing the world and assessing actions based on what furthers the goal of the group rather than merely agreeing with an individual regardless of their status.
Capitalism is the outgrowth of Eurocentric’s individualism. A few profit from the labor of many. Profit takes precedence over human needs and nurturance. The ethos “survival of the fittest” lends itself to a climate of “dog eat dog”. Status and titles are fought over when man created games of scarcity and something is more important than something else.
Relationships, the highest-held value in African culture, deteriorate within such a climate. Education becomes more and more about training to fulfill corporate needs and less about highlighting and fulfilling human needs. Problems are not solved, rather businesses are created to handle the problems at a profit of course. Media says “you are the labels of your clothes and the sum of the widgets you own. Our youngsters respond by robbing for the widgets and taking each other’s lives.
Our job as parents, family and community is to make the home, community and world a more nurturing and humane place for our children and grandchildren. Reclaiming the Afrocentric value system in which every child and person is valued and given a name that reminded the child and the village the gift that the child/adult brought to the village. That alone provided a base of self-esteem, a relationship between the village and the newborn. Feeling accepted and appreciated sets the tone for the child to explore the gifts he or she is born with. We adults and our offspring desperately need that today. With “stop-and-frisk”, the school-to-prison pipeline, the numbers of our children being murdered and killing each other is a call to action. And the action spoken of here is routed in the home. So whatever age the child is, there are needs that caretakers must provide so that the child reaches adulthood with a healthy sense of purpose and contributes to self, family, home and community. Our families are really up to us.
Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” lists the needs and the Parents Notebook invites its readers to share the actions they find to be successful in producing the results – children with high self-esteem, children who give the impression “I can do this”. At the base of the hierarchy is 1. Physiological needs (air, water, food) ; 2. Security (need for safety, order and freedom from fear or threat). While kindergarten is mandatory in New York and the child can enter if reaching five by December 31st of the school year, the school offers academics but parents must be responsible for the physical and emotional health of their child. In many schools mayhem reigns with staff consumed with emotional pressures, so caring for one’s child must include parent involvement in the school but with the commitment to your child’s emotional and intellectual growth – not test scores which are manipulative. And rating your child’s school should be based on the curriculum and the staff’s ability to nurture the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Back to the “Hierarchy of Needs”: 3. Social (need for love, affection, human contact and a sense of belongingness. This is a major need and parents and family are the ones responsible for seeing that the child receives it. Clothes, toys and other objects will not make up for emotional neediness. 4. Esteem includes the need for self-respect, self-esteem, achievement and respect from others. 5. Self-actualization includes the need to grow to feel fulfilled, to realize one’s potential.
That is the road map we must follow to rescue and liberate our children. Once we dedicate ourselves as a community to raise all our children with those needs met, we will have earned the title of a freed people and released the energy of our children to change the conditions in our homes and save their own lives.
****Islamic Circle North America’s Annual Backpack Giveaway: There will be 5,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to NYC school children. Listed below are Brooklyn sites. For more information and other sites visit: www CNA.org.
** Sat., Aug. 31: 1- 3 pm – Masjid Taqwa, 1266 Bedford Ave.; **Sun., Sept. 1: 12 – 2 pm – ICNA Bklyn Community Center, 865 Coney Island Ave.
**The Parent’s Notebook will feature a problem-solving Q & A for parents of students in public school. Send your problem to firstname.lastname@example.org and our power parent, Sis. Earline Mensah, has agreed to answer all, sharing it in the column. More on Sis. Earline next time.