As an experienced educator, I have long tried to ascertain the source of our black children’s apathetic attitudes towards cultural awareness and appreciation. The extent of most kids knowledge of Africa does not extend beyond the commercials that often depict the continent as a malaria infested, poverty stricken hellhole devoid of any civilization or culture outside of that which European colonizers gave it. After over two decades of study, research, and work, I have come to the conclusion that the problem is a lack of ethno-specific historical awareness/knowledge.
As Dr. John Henrick Clarke once said, “History is a clock that people use to tell there political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.” I have come to call this previously denied history “Africognition”. Africognition is the “Afrikan centered mental framework for knowing”. Africognition is a 6 step internal process: awareness, perception, reasoning, overstanding, judgement, and action. These steps when taken sequentially and grounded in the ancestral wisdom of Afrikan people hold the key to cognitive/mental liberation from the ties that shackle us currently to Eurocentric mental frameworks. Brazilian scholar Paulo Freire in his landmark book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” made the following observation
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Africognition for the Afrikan is a necessity. Schools are supposedly the vessels by which learning is primarily acquired. That withstanding, the role of education in black youth must be closely examined. Are we educating our youth to be indoctrinated into the service of a dominant culture or are educating our youth for the purpose of community upliftment and liberation? The choice is yours!!!! Become active or we will continue to be cut and pasted right out of existence…….