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To End Structural Racism, African History Must be Taught
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2018-05-17 05:36:54
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To End Structural Racism, African History Must be Taught
By George Cassidy Payne

Where did science, mathematics, philosophy, and religion begin? Where were the first instruments made? Where was medicine pioneered? Where did farming and agriculture start?  Where were the first human paintings created? Where were the first tools engineered? Where were the first roads and bridges designed?

afri001_400It was Africa. That's where. Africa, the origin of human consciousness.

Former Ethiopian ruler, Haile Selassie once said, "Thousands of years ago, civilizations flourished in Africa which suffer not at all by comparison with those other continents. In those centuries, Africans were politically free and economically independent. Their social patterns were their own and their cultures truly indigenous."

Tragically, this history and wisdom is often ignored, suppressed, co-opted, or simply misunderstood by white people in America. The result of this cultivated ignorance has been the perpetuation of numerous social ills and inequalities. For example, the African American male lives less than the average white male. 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men get incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men. Unarmed African Americans get killed at 6x the rate of unarmed whites. And, for every level  of educational attainment, African Americans have unemployment rates that are similar to or higher than those of less educated white Americans. As Du Bois once observed: "Strange, is it not, my brothers, how often in America those great watchwords of human energy-'be strong!' 'know thy self!' 'hitch your wagon to a star!'-how often these die away into dim whispers when we face these seething millions of black men? And yet do they not belong to them? Are they not their heritage as well as yours?"

As I see it, structural racism and the generational poverty it induces will never be eradicated so long as the true history of African civilization is obscured, diluted, or erased from the curriculum.  In order to find genuine healing as a society inflicted with the disease of racism, Africa and Africans must have their contributions not only listed but learned; not only acknowledged but ascertained; and not only remembered but revered. As Malcolm X said bluntly: "You can't hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can't hate Africa and not hate yourself."

Speaking as a white male, let me be clear. This is not about a special month on the calendar. This is not about Affirmative Action, political correctness, or diversity awareness. This is about understanding who we are as a human race, where we originated from on this planet, and how our species has been able to survive for millions of years. There will never be lasting progress in this country until the citizenry understands the legacy of Africa. The only way the citizenry will understand this legacy is to be taught it.

George Cassidy Payne, Rochester, NY

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