The great Maasai people of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania have a greeting that has stood the test of time. Though known for their elite skills as warriors and profound ability at farming, at the heart of the Maasai are their children. Therefore they greet each other with the question, “Casserian engeri” translated as, “And how are the children?” The traditional answer would be, “All the children are well.”
If we were to greet each other like this, as Critically Conscious Educators of the African Diaspora, if we were to ask, and how are the children? Our response would be quite different:
The children are not well. And if our children are not well then the health of our families, communities, society and country at large, is not well.
However, we can change this. And it is very simple. It takes one word.
I said it was simple. I didn’t say it was easy.
Love is not just a feeling, something that carries you away into euphoria. Love is an action. It is a verb. Love requires you to do! It requires you to get involved. And as educators, we must act to change the environment that our students exist in while in school. Currently, our schools are too often oppressive institutions that have been very successful at churning out young people who are both hopeless and helpless and heading to prison, poverty and despair fast.
Here at CREAD, It is our goal to do our part in loving on our kids by providing parents, educators and all concerned members of our community with the resources, ideas, and love that will help us to change our answer to the most pressing question of our time; “How are the children?”
What is school like for the children and siblings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Paul O’Neal, Karryn Gaines, Sylville Smith? What is school like for our children who spent their summer ‘16 playing in neighborhood parks, concrete streets and fire hydrant streams, who then went home and were engulfed in the television and social media feeds of death and destruction of their kin, those who look, act and talk like them. What does back to school mean? Is it freedom? In one sense, yes. In another, no. Especially for our black boys whose voices are getting deeper, height, taller, chest broader, and defiance, stronger.
Here’s a glimpse at what love and education looks like in action. After you watch this (tissue alert or as my people would say “eye water” alert) ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of environment did Jason Wilson of the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy have to create for the young man to cry in front of his peers and no one reacted?
- What kind of environment did Jason Wilson create that would allow him to push the father in that way without the father resisting?
- How did this video make you feel? What did you want to know and what are you ready to do?
- How do you create this environment in your classroom/school for your student and their families?