Asking the Questions and Seeking the Answers: Education and Blackness
Themes such as white supremacy, racism, exploitation, discrimination and political corruption functioned throughout America’s history. The roots of nonwhites’ oppression, subordination, exclusion, discrimination, and exploitation have never been adequately dealt with and despite objectives of peace, healing, and dialogues throughout various periods of history the roots of people of colors’ inequalities still exist in the wider society and ultimately in educational institutions.
Questions come to mind about how do I reconcile these historical themes with present-day issues within the society?
How do I find meaning in the struggle of it all throughout time? Accept some peace within the persistence of chaos?
Use education as a means of guiding my perspectives? With these questions in mind, I realized that a lot stood between the answers to these questions and me and as such I allowed Ta-Nehesi Coates Between the World and Me to speak to my conundrums..
Ta-Nehesi Coates Between the World and Me highlighted all that stood between Black individuals and the world such as education, race, law enforcement, the American Dream, and social inequalities. Although race functions as a salient theme within Coates’ work, he does not utilize his work as panacea for the race issues in America. Neither does he allow his work to function as a one-stop guide book for understanding the Black man and racism in America. Instead Coates book’s offers a description to the world. A description regarding the struggle and the chaos that exist around the body and how Black bodies function amidst this struggle and chaos which surround them and has historical roots and present-day implications. For Coates, the world has proven how it felt about Black bodies over and over again and because of that he adopted the pragmatic approach his family instilled in him when viewing the world – “a political consciousness, that is as much a series of action as a state of being, a constant questioning, questioning as a ritual, questioning as exploration rather than searching for some certainty” (60). Coates pragmatic approach to understanding the world around him results in his deep reflections about the state of being in the American society that transcends into the educational system.
Looking at education system that builds on the educational experiences and opportunities of one group while diminishing the educational experiences and opportunities of another group, one cannot help but go beyond questioning, looking at a country that allows resegregation to occur even as desegregation rulings stand, one cannot help but reflects on what lays at the core of America’s democracy, looking at a country that allows public schools funding to serve a reflection of the quality of a wider neighborhood structure, one cannot help but acknowledge the persistence of inequality in different shapes and form. And what remains more infuriating is the fact that although the manifest historical physical and intellectual violence against Black bodies existed in the past, within the present the legally mandated physical and intellectual violence against Black bodies exist despite of laws that aim to protect and serve the rights and opportunities of each citizen. Although Black people have both asked the questions and sought the answers to racism the problem still exist. Coates’ approach of allowing the questions to stand still while building on the consciousness is necessary. In asking the questions one does not short-change themselves, on the path in search for the truth one does not seek to not enlighten themselves.
So instead of seeking the certainties that exist to my question, I will instead hold these questions still and acknowledge that racism’s link to fear and self-preservation is strong and I will also acknowledge that I will find my own meaning in my struggles while acknowledging the chaos which exist around me by using my eyes, my mind, and my heart.
I will also establish to myself that although “education” functions in the wider scheme of a system that works against us being fully educated, education is still necessary, it is necessary for the consciousness, it is necessary for our growth, and it is necessary because it allows for us to see what exists outside our view points.
Our Blackness is education.
It is the intellectual – the intellectual and understated, intellectual and under recognized, but intellectual and persistent.
Our Blackness as education is a continuum. Our Blackness as education does not end, does not quit, remains dynamic, has no boundaries, and moves through the generation. The Black intellectuals I call my ancestors and kinfolk did not know that as they passed stories and shared their experience which moved through the generations that they were shaping me as a descendant while constructing my knowledge. Education through their experiences, education through oral histories, education through action, and in the case of Coates, education through a letter to his son that transgressed the “education” offered within any institution.
Blackness as education offers survival.