Tea Bagger Dale Robertson is in the news again. In February 2009, Robertson came to Houston with a sign. Congress =Slavery, Taxpayers = N***ar. I have heard a lot of folks weigh in on what Mr. Robertson meant including those who felt he could not spell. There were even right leaning blacks who claimed to not be offended. Anyone who did not understand the intent of those words needs to visit www.africanholocaust.com. But enough about what I think. I want to know what you think. Do you, Houstonians, left, right or center think Mr. Roberts was innocently trying to make his point? Do you think blacks should just get over it and stop being so sensitive? Before you answer, I will give you a true story.
3 years ago I was preparing my suburban school children for a black history celebration. I gave them an assignment using 4 colors, red, blue, yellow and black. They were to tell me in a sentence or a few words what came to mind when they thought of those colors. We would call these Color Poems. I got all sorts of answers. One student said, “Red is like a delicious apple,” another said, ‘Red is like the tomatoes on my grandmas farm.” Some students chimed in that, “Yellow is like the sun in July.” Still others said, “Yellow is like corn on the cob.” Quite a few said, “Blue is like the ocean or my brother or sister or moms eyes.” When we got to black over 95% of the students, including the kindergarteners said, “Black is either horrible, ugly, hideous, scary or spooky.” The preschoolers however said, “Black is like midnight, it’s like the piano you play Ms. Scott, it’s like my buddy’s hair.”
I wondered where even kindergartners had developed such a negative attitude towards the color black. Even my Asian students, with jet black hair, said black was ugly.
Then I explained the assignment. I asked my students was their classmates hair, so jet black and shiny really ugly? “No Mrs. Scott.” I asked, do you think Ms. Scott is scary or spooky or horrible? “Nooo, Ms. Scott.” It seems through television and the lack of positive examples of the color black in our curriculum and in general, by kindergarten the majority had developed incredibly negative kneejerk attitudes towards the word black. Most of my students asked could they rewrite their poems using the word black. I said sure, if that is what they wanted ,so they did. They came up with the same types of descriptions as the preschoolers. They used critical thinking even at their young ages.
My point is this, we are all socialized to think certain hues are better than others, we use terms like black Friday, black ball, black list. When we describe the blues we say it’s sad, when there is also happy blues. So much history is left out and our students grow up sometimes to not unpack their own stereotypes. Thus, they carry signs like Mr. Robertson. And well meaning folks, unchallenged by the bias in school curriculum and media messages echo Mr. Robertson's sentiments and wonder, “Why are blacks so sensitive.
How many folks know who the Olmec are? They were discovered in 1909 by white archeologists yet this is never taught in schools. Do a Google search? They are the oldest civilization in North America; they were here before the Indians. Scientist in the 1950’s dated their findings. I will not tell you who they were, what they looked like but ask you to look it up. Then come back and tell me about whether or not Mr. Robertsons sign is OK with you. There is just so much we do not know. I am asking you to do a little digging and report back. Ok. Let’s get to it.
Google, "they came before Columbus," on You Tube.