17 Dec The Importance of Self Education : Intro to Black Dollars
Growing up, I hardly learned anything about Black history in school. I was born in Toronto and raised by a single, African Warrior Queen from Ghana. My family started from the bottom at a co-op apartment building. She worked hard while dealing with discrimination (and still continues to face discrimination) to improve her position while having her education back home undervalued. In 2003, my family went from an apartment building to living in a townhouse. I’m proud to live in Toronto, since I can’t see myself growing up in London, England which my mother was also considering moving to. I believe Toronto is one of the best cities to live in but when it comes to education, it is not as diverse as Canada’s pride for multiculturalism. How could children learn the diversity of Canada if the education system itself is not diverse?
I went to Catholic school from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. I learned more Black history on my own then I did during school. That makes it crystal clear that Black history(AFRICAN history) will not be taught to our children but this just makes self-education much more important. We can’t wait around to be taught our own history by an opposing system. Thanks to the internet, I started to teach myself Black American history in the late 90s. Year after year at school, I knew there must be more to Black history than just civil rights idols. I didn’t stop to think about researching African Canadian history, Ghanaian history or even our history before American slavery. Every Black history month had the same civil rights theme about how we are all working towards a better era. Learning the history of Black America on my own was eye opening. I learned about the operation of American slavery, minstrel shows, racist propaganda/memorabilia, and Jim Crow. What captured me the most was the first miscarriage of justice I *overstood; the Murder of Emmett Till. This story sparked my consciousness of how cruel this world is towards Black people.
During Black history month at the elementary level, it was obvious that Caucasian heroes were fundamental in ending slavery, while celebrating Black civil rights idols. We didn’t learn about any slave rebellions that occurred during that time period. Now I see how important this point of my life was for my future self-education. Sadly when high school hit, this initiative of self-teaching slowed down. Black history month wasn’t as engaging in high school compared to elementary. Somehow I thought I had a good understanding of Black history; I probably knew more than the average student. My consciousness was sleeping but it stirred around with the Sean Bell Execution. This murder seemed like a police cover up with the brutality of our King being shot 50 times. It reaffirmed that treatment of African Americans wasn’t changing but I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. In my mind, things weren’t getting better, but they weren’t getting any worse.
I finished high school and attempted 2 years at York University. I wasn’t a serious student after finishing high school. I found my strengths and which subjects I was magnetized too, yet I didn’t utilize my full potential during this phase of my life. This was the only time that I took a real course in African American studies however. I had learned some of the curriculum from independent research. Unfortunately, I wasn’t serious about this course either and failed to excel. I felt like I was ahead of the class, but my foolish assumption got exposed during exam time. After high school, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I quickly realized during first year, a law career wasn’t something I felt I should pursue for the rest of my life. Since I didn’t have any back up plans I was in limbo, not being interested in anything else and unable to do certain courses due to prerequisites. I was put on academic suspension after second year and I haven’t gone back since. If I could do anything different, I wouldn’t have entered post-secondary education at all. It just wasn’t for me at the time.
About a year or so after York, I discovered a martial art called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that slowly changed the people I was associating my energy and vibrations with. BJJ made me a better person through mind, body and soul. Not to say I don’t respect old homies and their struggles anymore because in this system we all go through a struggle. Training this martial art instilled commitment, ambition and discipline within me. I started training BJJ back in 2009, added some Muay Thai into the mix and now currently learning Dutch-style kickboxing. Martial arts helps you embrace other cultures; BJJ is from Brazil, Muay Thai is from Thailand and this specific style of kickboxing is from Netherlands. Learning about the origins of any art is vital for future development. My ambition is not only for competition purposes but also for what I’ll be able to offer future generations after I have mastered my craft. I was back to learning again, even though it was a different form of learning. I needed to force myself to constantly improve.
As far as my Black consciousness was concerned, I was keeping up with events casually but not enough. Police brutality wasn’t a priority while I was caught up in the beauty of training. Although, the next tragedy to catch me was Oscar Grant, shot in his back while handcuffed, face down on the floor. My Black consciousness woke up only to hit the snooze button. I enjoyed training and feeding my soul’s hunger daily. When you’re in the dojo, the only colour that matters is the colour that’s around your waist. I am growing with people I wouldn’t have ordinarily met of different races, socioeconomic statuses and sizes. The only thing that your training partner cares about is how much they want to develop themselves while developing everyone around them. Through my experience training in this city, martial arts institutes colorblind comradeship. Until certain aspects of society are eradicated, this colorblind harmony cannot exist outside of the dojo on a massive scale.
Time passed while my Black consciousness kept falling back to sleep but the next time I woke up, I stayed up. Mike Brown sparked my heated collective outrage and awareness, my pot of water finally boiled over. It took 4 dead KINGS plus countless stories of racism to open my mind to what is going on. One can’t be Black in any country without feeling any type of sympathy or compassion for our sisters and brothers at home and abroad. The current reality is the consciousness of the Black diaspora is growing and the injustices and grievances cannot be ignored any longer. No matter how comfortable you may feel in your individual situation. Self-education is an important factor for moving forward with our lives and progressing the lives of others and our children. We are in a system that continually degrades our worth regardless of what position or status we have attained.
Knowledge can be taken to redefine your personal worth, which will contribute to the collective Black Diaspora. We can return to our former glory as one nation, but this time on a worldwide scale. Our blood is blessed with the achievements of our ancestors and a reminder of the resistance to attacks on our people. This knowledge is more valuable than gold when we apply it properly, which is why Afrocentric schools are vilified. Afrocentric schools on a global scale will properly teach and build future generations. Knowledge of self creates self-worth which can’t be taken away from you, even beyond death. That is why I called this blog Black Dollars. Black Dollars is a symbol of self-worth which is LIMITLESS. PRICELESS. Take knowledge and build your foundation of self-worth. There are many steps to liberation but your individual mind is the first and foremost.
Peace and blessings to all