Last week, at this time, I was with teachers, parents, and activists at ABEC (A Black Education Congress) who collectively offered a vision for what it means to live and be in AfroDigital spaces. This week, I am thinking about those conversations more deeply, understanding the ways that I am accountable to a history and set of ideals for education (and technology) that go far, far beyond the scope and imaginations of the schools where I work.
AfroDigital Consciousness (ADC) was a term that I thought was brilliantly defined at ABEC and captures exactly the kind of ideal that goes beyond what schools intend for us. ADC= SPIRIT+ COMMUNITY+ TECHNOLOGY (“Ego-Tripping 2.0″ is an interconnected notion inspired by the opening performance at ABEC that included a reading of Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Tripping.”) ADC is multi-sensory oriented and steps into our practice and spirit. ADC creates community instead of destroying it. ADC means you play the game better… because you are on another level.
Perhaps, one of my favorite moments was the emphatic declaration that ADC goes beyond what students of color most commonly receive in schools: a MINIMAL COMPETENCY, SKILLS-BASED apparatus. We ask: what spirits have our ancestors left or what is the knowledge that can propel us forward in a culturally relevant way? ADC recognizes that technology is power and power is defining your own reality (see Dr. Akbar’s work here).
When we talk about ADC, we are fundamentally talking about IDEAS. AfroDigital Ideas offer a Pan African vision, work globally, and represent an uncensored bearing of an African American/global perspective. AfroDigital Ideas preserve our history, culture, and arts and RESTORE our culture. In particular, ADC directs a new vision of teaching:
- Children CAN code and design; they can do it if provided the opportunity
- Students need to be provided the opportunity to use their creativity and develop that capacity
- We must tell the story and history of ourselves and our ancestors utilizing technology
We even talked about an AfroDigital Universe that is non-intimidating, user-friendly, AND economically freeing apps, websites, and digital experiences and includes (but is not limited to):
- An app for health & beauty for African/African Americans that promotes natural beauty for young, impressionable girls
- Mental health apps that will deal with: bullying, depressions, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (these resources will be linked to help black families receive authentic, genuine assistance)
- An online search engine geared towards our African culture
- An online African/African American company where all groups can create, edit, and publish books on various cultures. This includes illustrators who have access to spaces where they can upload their art
- An online African-centered virtual school that is developmentally friendly
- A digital archive of our lesson plans and best practices as a resource for teachers that is community-informing
- Online examples of a Hip Hop based education for teaching
- A gaming platform/experience that takes you back to Kemet (with Baba Asa Hilliard as guide/avatar)
- Kwanzaa principles that are digitally lived and offer self-love
- Resources-focused search capabilities that access resources across the Diaspora
Of course, these apps and technologies will not be developed overnight. That’s not the point here. It’s about the ideological apparatus behind what we do, how and why. And, for me, it’s about always remembering that fundamental UNDERSTANDING: we are accountable to a history and set of ideals for education (and technology) that go far, far beyond the scope and imaginations of the schools where we often work and the dominant systems of education that enroll many of us.