I originally intended to stop/ write/ reflect for each of my past three days at the Black Education Congress. Yes, that was certainly the intention. But this language and this written form of the Word just got in the way. There were so many moments that touched me. I wouldn’t be able to define and chronicle those moments linearly even if I wanted to. This morning, I am left with one resonance that I am carrying with me. I expect new resonances to fill me in coming days and weeks so I will keep that discussion going here.
I realize today the weight of an experience that I seldom receive, an experience that maybe I have never had… being in a room filled with concentric circles, nested cyphers, filled with people of Afrikan descent who have the education and well-being of Black children first and foremost in their heart, mind, spirit. Just imagine it! It might sound simple, but how many times have you actually experienced THAT? I needed to stop today and realize that I am never in such a space and to also realize what that space-powerfulness has given me. I don’t mean the folk who are trying to usher black children into a middle class pseudo-bourgeoisie (I say pseudo because middle-classness means something completely different in this time, even though most folk don’t realize that.) I don’t mean THEM folk. These days I feel lucky if I can find a set of black colleagues, scattered across the country, who have a dynamic, critical vision for Black Education. And I am lucky if have a sista across campus who I can meet after our classes are over and just talk. Like I said… L-U-C-K-Y! I had them sistas-in-the-wings at Rutgers-Newark, for instance (given the history and spirit of Newark), but you had to sustain a whole lotta foolishness in your department first. And while I attend professional conferences and panels where I do meet such soul-sustaining folk, more often than not, most black folk are busy trying to be famous and/or network so that they can become famous. That’s the culture in which black youth must survive a hostile education and it is the culture in which we most often must fight to help them not merely survive but thrive.
I am thinking back to the opening night with the procession of elders punctuated by the opening words of Dr. Adelaide Sanford. This is what I mean by these words not allowing the weight and fullness of a Black Experience. Here is a video of the Queen Mother from a July 2013 talk in Philly:
As powerful as this video is, it does not begin to capture what it was like to be in that room that night at a circle with other black teachers and high school students (who were ENRAPTURED, by the way, of course!) And as powerful as this video is, it does not capture what it is like to be in Dr. Adelaide Sanford’s presence with black educators at your side. It is THAT feeling that I am carrying with me today and that I now take with me as I educate young people of color.