The Necessary ‘Re-Education’ of America

The Necessary ‘Re-Education’ of America

February 3, 2022 | Author: Carl McCluster, Founder and Convener of the Connecticut Faith Leaders Collaborative

Although various media formats proliferate airways, and would therefore seem to heighten awareness regarding the challenges that people of color face in every corner of the globe, Black History Month 2022 and the 24 months that preceded it remind us that we are still far from fulfillment of the words Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1967 when he said, I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  Let’s begin with our individual self-awareness of the lens through which Black people, and all non-European descent (White)* peoples are viewed in places where the ‘dominant’ culture is Eurocentric and, in many cases, beyond. 

The heinous murder of George Floyd was a tipping point for a history of subjugation and prejudice against people of color.  The impossibility of recounting the innumerable lives that have been demeaned, derailed, and destroyed is daunting but a few salient points should help every person of color and every person who portends to tout that ‘all lives matter’ to rekindle their efforts and advocacy for racial equity and social justice, not just as a mantra but as a life goal.

“People of Color” are defined as people of non-European descent, focusing primarily on those of African, Latin, and Asian descent and in most studies referred to as Black, Brown, and Yellow.  I note here our own self-deprecation is a build-out of this demeaning paradigm.  Black people who don’t conform to the ‘classic’ traits of ‘blackness’ are known as “Oreos”, Latins as “Coconuts” and Asians as “Bananas.” Called ‘minorities,’ although each of these cultural groups is more numerous than those of European or ‘white’ descent, is one of the primary tools of ‘training’ people of color from the cradle to the grave and injuring our emotional and mental self-perception. 

The graph illustrates the world population by race.  Images promoted through advertising, failure to create an equitable national education standard as it relates to history, and a broader cultural worldview continue to enslave people of color and their children in America and many parts of the world that rely on American and European educational standardization and certification. The world we are presented is not the world that is and so we see the beginning of cascading effect of “The Miseducation of the Negro” **, not just for Black people but of all peoples of color.

If you have a computer and are not afraid to face the facts, then you can easily review a Pew Research Foundation report and analysis of race. 

For more information about the Pew Research Center weighting and methodology, see http://www.pewresearch.org/methodology/u-s-survey-research/our-survey-methodology-in-detail/

In short, a perception has been promulgated regarding the actuality of the human condition in the world.  People of Color are often divided and fight for the scraps of education, economic and political commodity which could, if we had the courage to work together, change the face of the perceived reality that has contributed to our relative subjugation in each of those areas.

I present these ‘bold’ (aka Factual) statements as a challenge for all ‘People of Color’ (White is a color too) to seize this moment in history that has allowed us to accept “Black History Month,” “Asian History Month,” “Hispanic/Latino History Month,” (and many, many other ‘months’) to create a time of celebrating our joint global heritage, accentuating the accomplishments of each of our cultures and celebrating the opportunities that they afford us to overcome not just the global racial inequities that plague us all, but to unite as those who celebrate our diverse gifts, talents, and abilities with a proud humility that does not force us to subjugate or demean others in order to feel better about ourselves.

I issue a challenge that we must remember Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other Black men, women, and children who have died simply because of their skin color. In remembering, we must also not forget those whose name time would seek to steal from us.  We must not forget the countless people of color who have fallen prey to the racism, hatred, and cultural ‘miseducation’ that too often separates America and the world. We must not forget, Srinivas Kuchibhotla a 32-year-old engineer who was killed in an apparently racially motivated shooting in a suburb of Kansas City, we must remember Harnish Patel, who had lived in the US with his family for 14 years, was shot and killed outside of his home on Thursday night in Lancaster, South Carolina,  and in remembering each of them and the countless others that have died due to racism, prejudice, and cultural elitism.  In doing, we can and will do what Dr. King challenged us to do…

“Join hands in the words of the old Negro Spiritual and sing together: ‘Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, I’m (we’re) Free At Last!!!’”

 

 

* Western European Descendants

** Book, The Miseducation of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson


 

Reverend Carl McCluster serves in his 28th year as the Senior Pastor & Teacher of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Pastor McCluster is the Founder and Convener of the Connecticut Faith Leaders Collaborative, comprised of the elected and/or appointed adjudicatory leaders of the 18 denominations and faith traditions in CT with more than 100 houses of worship under their charge.  Under the unction of the Holy Spirit, he also founded and convenes the National Faith Leaders Collaborative, an African American Clergy led amalgam of multi-ethnic/cultural domestic and international Faith Tradition Leaders overseeing more than 20 million followers worldwide.