To my brilliant Black daughters, nobody can take away your history
3/8/2018, 3:05 p.m.
To my beautiful, brilliant Black daughters:
I have so many hopes and dreams for you that if I tried to say them all, they would run longer than the entire Harry Potter series!
My hopes for you, my two beautiful Black girls, are so simple and yet also entirely grandiose. My dreams for you, beautiful Black girls, are that you are free to be whoever you want to be.
If you only get one lesson from me, your mother, let it be this one: Your history didn’t start with slavery, and white people’s history didn’t start in the United States of America.
As your Black parents, your father and I are teaching you our viewpoint. Our Black culture begins with the beginning of humans.
In fact, the first humans lived in Africa. The first civilizations were in Africa. Our Christianity began in Africa. Africa is our homeland and everything about Africa should bring you pride. Wear your African-ness, your Blackness with pride!
Your history, the history of the continent of civilization in Africa, starts in modern day Sudan, around 6000 B.C. In fact, the first “empire” of two great nations happened between modern-day Egypt and modern-day Sudan. We will be sure you know those modern names are European names. We will teach you their deep-rooted African names: Kemet and Meroe.
We are teaching you the history of ancient Kemet, Meroe and Nubia.
You will learn of the African civilizations, the use of iron and tools in Africa, the resource riches of the African continent and the complicated, fascinating history of more than 10,000 years of human civilization. Africa had kings and queens and warriors, slaves, artists, scientists, mathematicians, farmers, sailors, inventors and musicians. You come from a beautifully talented Black culture.
As your mother, I have told you repeatedly that you are already free to be whoever you want to be. But as you approach adolescence and spend more time in schools than you do with your parents, you may begin to doubt that I told you the truth.
See, the books that you will read and the lessons you learn will not validate your potential exactly as you are—beautiful, brilliant Black girls, from a legacy of beautiful, brilliant Black women.
You must learn their history, but you can take a broader perspective. In formal school education, you will be exposed to a different viewpoint. Most school curricula in the United States are completely uninterested in young, brilliant Black girls like you learning about your culture, discovering multiple viewpoints or forming your own opinions.
In school, you will likely be inundated with stories of Europe: ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Medieval Period, the Dark Ages, the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire. Then you will be told all about the greatness of the United States of America that comes from the rich history of Europe.
You will be forced to memorize, learn and admire the brilliance and beauty of Europe and white people. That is something I cannot protect you from. You must learn their history. But remember, more than facts are at stake. In those classrooms, you are seeing only their viewpoint. You can take a broader perspective. Our Blackness is beautiful, brilliant and resilient.