Showing posts with label Black churches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black churches. Show all posts

September 24, 2023

WaPo column: Black history now being taught in Florida churches, comment moderator rejects a racist post,


 Above: This is all part of the history of America

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After Florida restricts Black history, churches step up to teach it by Brittany Shammas, Washington Post

By Hal Brown

When I looked at the Washington Post website the above article was down the right column of the page where it could be easily missed:

I think it is a sad sign of the times that not only Black churches but other churches and houses of worship are stepping in where in some GOP controlled states public education has become polticized to prohibit the teaching of accurate history because leaders consider it woke indoctrination. 

The following comment to the article above was deleted by a moderator of the comments section. Note the commenter's use of the work indoctrinate. This as well as the tone of the comment prompted me to try to reply to them:

Smith said, "We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to speak up for those. I cannot speak up for themselves. "

I know I’m swimming against the stream here but a statement like that would be more appropriate if it had been directed at the present day rather than 1964. The number of Black on Black murders, carjackings, assaults etc. occurring every day is nothing short of evil personified and yes, the six years old or the 70 year old woman killed by stray bullets fired by rival gangs at a busy intersection need someone to speak for them.

 As for teaching "Black history" in Black churches, fine. But White parents don’t want their children to be indoctrinated at public schools into believing that they are inherently racist or something they had nothing to do with any more than Black parents would want their children to be held in a negative light, because of rampant, crimes disproportionately committed by Blacks. That would be sadistic . 

The Smith he refers to is Rev. Gaston Smith who is quoted in the article and pictured in the top of the page photo. The entire quote is:

“Whenever there has been any kind of movement, particularly in the African American community, it started in the house of God.  We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to stand our ground, because the Bible says we have to speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.”

 I don't know where the DSmith994 reference to 1964 comes from.

I tried to put the following as a reply to the comment (shown above) which was rejected by a moderator, I think for good cause, so it wasn't posted. Therefore my reply couldn't be seen. Instead I posted it as my own comment (expanded on for this blog) below:

The commenter misused the term "indoctrinated" in expressing their opinion about teaching Black history. In my opinion the comment was an expression of barely masked racist attutides which have no place in this venue. 

The use of the term "indoctrinated" was telling. The meaning of the word is simple: to teach a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically, the key word being uncritically. There is no indoctrination being attempted by those in churches and elsewhere in the teaching of Black history.

Indoctrination is the key to promulgating propaganda. It can be subtle or blatant, but done purposefully has been a powerful tool for despots to control the population. Teaching factual history as it should be done, that is, without bias or an agenda beyond education, is not indoctrination it is education. 

The history of slavery and the civil rights movement is also related to, but separate from, teaching more broadly about the various types of racism. The later may belong in a social studies class rather than a history class. In college courses in racism might fit into a social psychology, sociology, or even criminal justice curriculum. It is a complex subject that shouldn't be reduced to political talking points. 

For example, advanced teaching about the underlying causes of Black crime which experts have attributed mostly to poverty, broken families, poor educational opportunities, and ghettoized neighborhoods where gang membership often gives kids a sense of identity I'd see coming in AP high school social science classes or college.

It is a sad state of our education system that Black churches have to fill in a void created in public education caused by the political pressure which has equated the teaching of Black history with the promotion of so-called woke beliefs which the MAGA GOP considers un-American.

The Post article, which includes many interviews with clergy and parishioners, and their photos, begins:

MIAMI — They filed into the pews one after the other on a sweltering Wednesday night, clutching Bibles and notepads, ready to learn at church what they no longer trusted would be taught at school.

“BLACK HISTORY MATTERS” proclaimed television screens facing the several dozen men and women settling in at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. An institution in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Liberty City, “The Ship” had borne witness to many of the seminal events of the past century, shepherding its followers during Jim Crow and the heyday of the KKK, through the civil rights movement to the racial justice protests of recent years.

Now, as a new school year started, the Rev. Gaston Smith was standing at the pulpit with a lesson on one of those chapters. After months of controversy over new directives governing classroom instruction in Florida — changes that critics said sanitized or even distorted the past — he and other Black pastors across the state agreed their churches had no choice but to respond.

They would teach Black history themselves.

Here's an excerpt:

While creating the tool kit, the members of a special task force had a few goals in mind. They wanted to cover a timespan from before slavery to modern times, including the Middle Passage, white supremacy and race riots, the Black Panther Party and what they called the “criminal injustice system.”

“We don’t want to whitewash anything,” said task force member Marlowe Jones, a Faith in Florida organizer in Pasco County. “We want to tell the truth.”

The response since July has been overwhelming. As of this month, more than 260 religious institutions have filled out a pledge to teach Black history. And it isn’t just Black congregations responding: There also are synagogues, Catholic churches and mosques. Nor is it only in-state houses of worship.

Faith in Florida is now getting requests to build out an entire curriculum —something Thomas hopes to tackle in time for the second half of the school year. “I had no idea it was going to go this far,” she said.

I wanted to view other comments from DSmith994 to see if I could get a sense of their views on similar matters, but since their comment had been deleted I was not able to do this.

This leaves me to speculate about them.

I think that their comment demonstrates what is often decribed as implicit racism (see article), excerpt here:

Implicit racism is an automatic negative reaction to someone of a different race or ethnicity than one’s own. Underlying and unconscious racist attitudes are brought forth when a person is faced with race-related triggers, including preconceived phenotypic differences or assumed cultural or environmental associations. Since this type of racism lies beyond the awareness of the person displaying the attitudes or actions, it is quite possible for someone to report that they hold few, if any, overt racist ideologies and yet display implicit racism in their everyday interactions with people of different racial groups.

That DSmith may not think they are racist doesn't mean that they don't have racist beliefs they are not aware of. Why, for example, did they decide to even bring up Black crime? This is irrelevant to the topic of the article which they are commenting on.

America from Colonial tome to the recent past like all countries does not have a pristine pure history. From how Native Americans to all minorities were disenfranchised and marginalized to in some cases the victims violence this is part of our national history. We don't use the term "heritage" to describe this part of our history. We usually save this word to describe things the country is rightfully proud of, but part of our heritage should be that we are able to look unflinchingly at the things done that had morallity been our national touchstone we never would had engage in these acts.

On a personal note... my first experience with what heritage meant and with a Black person.

When I was a child to get me and two of my friends were starting a club. We were trying to find a name for it to call it. My father suggested "The Heritage Club." I remember he really seemed invested in wanting us to chose that name. I didn't know what the word meant until he explained it and how important respecting one's heitage was.

Bruce Steinberg, Bobby Silver, and I did start a club. We met in our furnished attic.

I am embarrassed to write that we ended up calling our little group The Boy Geniuses Club, or BG's for short. 

The attic room we met in was once called "the maid's room."

When I was younger even though we didn't have much money somehow we had a series of three live-in maids who lived in the attic. This was during the mid-40's to mid-50's. 

The first maids, were Flossie (I had a photo of her holding me when I was a baby) and Edna. They were White.  I never knew their last names. 

When Edna left - in rerospect I think she may have gotten pregnant - I gave her almost all of my precious comic books.

The last one was Black. Her name was Alma. I got to know her the best. Alma was the first Black person I'd even even talked to, let alone become friends with. In those days we used the word "colored" but in my household the n-work was never uttered.

I remember we talked about her race and that she told me something about how she felt about the color of her skin. Something she said stuck with me but while it's there I can't quite grab ahold of what the exact words were but they were something about her being chocolate and me being vanilla. I recall I found that amusing.

Even though we thought the Heritage Club name was lame, my father's ethical and moral values always stayed with me. The primary ones were never to lie, to treat all people equally, and to respect my own and the county's heritage. At the time I doubt many of my peers even knew the meaning of the word heritage. Nowadays it is vital that children learn at an early age about what the word means and that it encompasses both the good and the bad about our past.


As of 7AM Pacific time this was the most liked of the 314 comments:

White kids do not feel “bad about themselves” when learning about the atrocities this country has committed. I have taught children as young as kindergarten. They recognize unfairness and ask why these things happened. They find it strange that had they been living in the era of strict segregation, they wouldn’t have been permitted to have Black, Latino or Asian friends, classmates or neighbors. I know this to be true because I taught here in NOVA public schools for 20+ years. Adults who object to the teaching of Black history don’t want an inclusive teaching of what is AMERICAN history. Kids have an innate sense of fairness. Kids are resilient. Kids aren’t the problem. Racists adults seeking to maintain the status quo are the problem.

I think the commenter is referring to schools in Nova, which is in Broward County, Florida.

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