Ethnic Cleansing of Black Community tribunal report-back Part II

Amadi Ajamu | 3/29/2018, midnight
Natacha Robert spoke of the Detroit bankruptcy as a method of ethnic cleansing.
Fighting Ethnic Cleansing the Black Community Amadi Ajamu photo

Natacha Robert spoke of the Detroit bankruptcy as a method of ethnic cleansing. “Between the 1920s and the 1950s Detroit’s African population continued to grow, and by the 1970s Detroit became America’s largest majority-Black city,” said Robert. “Detroit was very important for the development of a Black middle class and the union movement due to the thriving automotive industry. Many Africans worked within the automotive industry and were able to make enough money to buy homes and maintain a living. After World War II, many Africans lost their factories jobs to returning veterans of the war, most of whom were white. The city also experienced a period of deindustrialization beginning in the 1940s, with divestment from the auto industry. As whites fled to the suburbs, Detroit became a majority Black city with a dwindling tax base.”

Yaa Asantewaa Nzingha, an educator, focused on ethnic cleansing of Black educators from American school systems. She began by quoting Dr. Amos Wilson: “The paradox I have to deal with daily in my classroom is the amount of lying that must take place in the name of education; the amount of outright deception that goes by the name of education; how truth must be nailed to the cross in classroom after classroom; how people tremble, quake and suffer from anxiety when truth and reality is brought up by their teachers; how people are pushed out of the universities and punished because they dare talk about truth; how people think they should go to school only to be made comfortable.”

Ethnic cleansing of Black community tribunal report-back Part I

She continued, “It is only appropriate I start with myself, Yaa Asantewaa Nzingha. During my 30 years as a public school educator, I have experienced hostility, harassment, demotions, suspensions and termination because of the role I played in ‘successfully’ educating children of African descent. My most devastating blow came January 2001, when I was terminated from my teaching position at Junior High School 113, in Brooklyn, N.Y. for teaching Black youth they were Africans. While covering my theater class, a white Jewish teacher, Mr. Levine, became troubled when he asked a 13-year-old Black male to do a skit where he would role-play a thief and go to the corner store, steal candy, potato chips, etc. to bring back for the girls in order to impress them. The young man responded by saying, ‘My drama teacher, Nzingha, teaches us as Africans we shouldn’t fall into the low standards America has set for us, but have high standards as African people, therefore, I do not feel I should have to act out the part of a thief.’

“The teacher wrote a letter to the principal stating that teaching children to call themselves Africans was not only lowering their self-esteem, but teaching them hopelessness. The principal, Katherine Corbett, sided with Mr. Levine, and after years of praising my curriculum and teaching techniques ordered me to discontinue my current methods of instruction and no longer include ‘anything’ in my curriculum that dealt with issues of rejection, racism, peer conflict, personal conflict, or the atrocities of slavery. I was eventually banned from the school and terminated by, at that time, District Superintendent Dr. Lester Young Jr. My incident triggered a host of attacks on other teachers in the same school who taught youth their culture, history, ancestry, origin, etc. The ethnic cleansing of Black educators is not unique to New York.”