IS BLACK STILL BEAUTIFUL TO OUR YOUTH?
Before Emancipation slaves were severely punished for daring to learn to read English and locked in societal disenfranchisement and hopelessness in the struggle for human rights. After Emancipation in 1863, the agonizing disappointment of Reconstruction retarded the social, educational and economic advancement of African Americans. From those troubled times forward, the hue and cry was for Blacks to have power over their own destinies through greater control of our schools, businesses and societal mobility.With the institutionalization of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employment, The Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Bill and a more balanced scale of justice, African Americans have advanced into positions of greater influence and achievement in entertainment, sports and, yes, Education. For those driven by the hunger for a bigger slice of the American pie, a commitment to success and a willingness to tug at the boot straps to achieve dreams, opportunity has achieved a deeper weave in the contemporary American fabric. Black folks have finally achieved a down-payment on the dream: Control of the education of our Black youth in major metropolitan milieus. It appears that this achievement has ushered in the transition into the new nightmare: The failure of our moral obligation as mentors to our youth.
Those of us, who have created successful lives, accessing the American Dream, have the guidance and mentoring of our future leaders in our hands as role models, but we are failing the replacement generation. Historically, the Black community has held a belief that the white education establishment has not had support, or the depth of investment, in Black student achievement that Black educators would possess. Sadly, we witness the failures of the Detroit Public School system, presided over by a mostly Black School Board ( not to mention a former Black mayor convicted of felonies ) that has shown greater focus on ego gratification and self-aggrandizement than the using their leadership and training to upgrade the educational achievement of minority students. Currently, in Atlanta, dozens of top educators from the Superintendent down the hierarchy to principals and classroom teachers have joined in a conspiracy to cheat our students out of the moral guidance that leads to respect for the value of education so desperately needed for competitiveness and success in an increasingly technologically complex society. We are in charge and we are blowing it! Who will step up to save us now, if we can’t save ourselves? The blood sacrifice and struggle of former leaders like Thurgood Marshall, John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, et al, have been denigrated by our so called Black educational leaders. We have unwittingly become our own oppressors and blame must seek a new home.
Brian Settles is an author, retired airline Captain and Adjunct Faculty member at Mercer University in Atlanta. His current book is titled, No Reason for Dying: A Reluctant Combat Pilot's Confession of Hypocrisy, Infidelity and War.