ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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There are those who criticize little Malik’s hair, his clothing, his voice,

 his body language, and, yes, even today his color

 

 

Children Are Our Future

It’s Back to School Again 

By Yvonne Terry

 

A new school year begins at the end of August for Baltimore-area students. This year students return to school before Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Parents, guardians and students are gearing up for another “first day of school.” For many pre-kindergarteners and even some kindergarteners this is the first formal experience away from caregivers.

Little ones often cling to mothers, grandparents and /or fathers on that first day. They fear that first step towards independence. Even at that tender age they know something about the ills of this society in which we live. These youngsters must stay with twenty or more other crying children in a colorful classroom with strange and different objects. There are usually only two adults to 20 or more students.

I have had the opportunity to participate in many “first day” miracles. Yes, the miracle is realized much later when I see four or five year olds develop an enormous amount of social, emotional, and academic skills in just one year. In the poem, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, the author delineates well all the grown-up things we learn in kindergarten.

As an African American educator for more than 30 years, it still gives me the shivers to see all the students from our very youngest to our middle school students come to school with so much hope and potential. Their eyes are often bright with anticipation about the things they will experience in this new school year.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we have failed our youth.  We adults have not done all that we could, personally or corporately to educate our youth. We are in the business of blaming the victim. We say that Johnnie is sassy and rude, but how did he get that way? He didn’t come from the womb sassy or rude.

Many African-American students don’t feel valued at home for whatever reason, and then come into the schoolhouse and is not well received. There are those who criticize little Malik’s hair, his clothing, his voice, his body language, and, yes, even today his color. Our middle and high school students are dropping out in large numbers. It is our responsibility to change their hopelessness to hope.

This must be accomplished by any means necessary. There are so many problems facing our large urban communities, such as crime, poverty, drug abuse, poor housing, and health issues.

While there are many issues to be addressed by and for an oppressed people, a chief issue for this educator is one of access to a quality education for our children. They really are our future. What will we do about our future? If our children fail, we die as a people. I would like to suggest to everyone to become a villager and help raise our children. We all have a role to play.

Parents, guardians, and family members you are key to your children’s success in school. Do something to make this year the best year ever for your youngster. Get involved and be a part of your child’s success.  Here are a few tips to help your child get off to a good start:

 

·        Purchase needed school supplies for your child before school starts. If possible

get your child involved with technology. Some churches and all libraries provide

access to computers if you do not have a personal computer.

·        Keep the lines of communication open with your child. Talk about school with your child.

·        Visit your child’s school and meet with the teacher at least once a month. Make your child’s education a priority.

·        Monitor your child’s school work. Create a quite place for your child to study.

·        Review home assignments with your child each night.

·        Read to or with your child each night. Visit the library with your child. You and your child should borrow library books together.

·        Read books by many different authors, including African American authors.

·        Read the newspaper, magazines, comics, information from web sites and informational text with your children.

·        Help build your child’s self confidence by encouraging and supporting him. Never use abusive language, even when he does something that is wrong.

·        Know your children’s friends. Plan activities for your child and his friends.

·        Ask for help from professionals if you need it.

·        Enjoy your children. Have fun with your children; Watch them play sports and other activities. Be an active participant in your child’s education.

Our state and local governments have the charge to expend fair and adequate fiscal  resources to our children. Students should never be used as pawns in a dangerous tug of war about control. Children of color deserve the same resources as all other children.

Our churches have a responsibility to support the schools in their community. Many churches are reaching out to schools on a small scale. We have so many mega-churches

with lots of members. If each member literally reached out and touched just one student, it would make a difference in the lives of so many of our children. Every church should be connected to at least one school. Yes, we need to pray about our youth, but God also expects us to act. Children are the future of the church too!

I charge each of us to connect with at least one school or one child. There is a lot to be done. You could adopt a class or adopt one student. We need serious mentors in our schools. It does not cost a lot of money to be a mentor. The most important thing to many of these students is to have someone who cares. Do you want to be a part of the village? What will you do about our future?

A final note:  I love ChickenBones: A Journal because there is so much information about our past and our present experiences.

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Yvonne Terry is Assistant Principal at Waverly Elementary School, Baltimore.

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Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus

By Yvonne Terry-Lewis

"Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus" is an engaging book that confronts the universal experience of living with death and dying. The author personifies the personal loss of loved ones as "Sister Grief." The book, partly autobiographical, provides a holistic plan for conquering grief through faith, through a special relationship with Jesus. This plan is designed to help navigate one through the grieving process. The book includes personal stories, poetry, testimonials, letters, practical suggestions, and strategies based on a love for the divinity in one's life. Although the circumstances that cause grief may be sad, this book is filled with love, encouragement, and hope that lead one towards spiritual health and wholeness.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 24 August 2005 / updated 28 March 2010

 

 

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