Monday, January 11, 2010

Lesson in History: The Tuskegee Airmen and Black Pride

Destruction and I were cuddled on the couch yesterday flipping through the channels for something to watch, when I noticed the movie The Tuskegee Airmen.  I decided that this was a good movie for my child to watch.  He has learned about World War One and Two in school and from family stories because both his paternal grandfather and great grandfather fought in the war.

As I watched this movie with him, I realized that all of his images of the military have been White, though in the modern military people of color are over representative.  I certainly did not want him to get the impression that I support a military career for him but I felt that it was important for him to learn the sacrifices that these men made.

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“The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, African Americans in many U.S. states were still subject to Jim Crow laws. The American military itself was racially segregated. The Tuskegee Airmen were subject to racial discrimination, both within and outside the Army. Despite these adversities, they flew with distinction. They were particularly successful in their missions as bomber escorts in Europe”.

Even though we are Canadians, I take pride in all of the achievements of the peoples of the African Diaspora.  I know that this is a story that Destruction would not have been taught in school and therefore; it is particularly important that as part of my responsibilities as a parent, that I educate him on OUR history.

Black history month is approaching and it will be filled with stories regarding the Underground Railroad because it benefits Whiteness in Canada to believe that it has not been racist towards Afro-Canadians.  The children will learn that Black history is an additive; something to be banded about once a year because of a lack of importance.   As a parent I must attack this message and show him as many positive images of Blackness as I can because the world will teach him to hate his skin and to believe himself inferior.

When White parents send their children to school they don’t have to worry whether or not their children will learn positive things about their history and  or culture  because Whiteness dominates the education system, leaving little room for the inventions and accomplishments of POC. Without actively saying that POC are less than, the erasure sends this message to children, which they in turn act upon in their daily interactions.  Dismantling racism begins by demanding that the history of the marginalized and oppressed be taught alongside the colonizers truth that we have become far to found of.

As a Black parent, I know that it is my responsibility to teach my children about the peoples of the African Diaspora to the best of my ability.  To default on this responsibility is to hand my children over to Whiteness unarmed and ill prepared.  Even in this I must recognize my privilege because I am educated and have the wherewithal to investigate specious arguments presented to my children.  Someone who is poor or without education, may not have the time or the knowledge to contradict the harm that is daily being done in schools.  Generation after generation, ignorance is passed on in this way.