Black Fathers are the “Gap in the Bookshelf”
by William Jackson, Prof. Edward Waters College
The importance of reading and comprehension can never be
diminished, the power of independent thought, imagination and
vision is a powerful quality of personal growth and development.
The memories of sacrifices from beatings, torture and even
death has vanished from the minds of too many Blacks that through
generations are lead in the wrong direction by and of assimilation
and association that are literally killing generations of Black youth.
The “Bookshelf of Life” is important because Black children need to
learn who they are, their great potential, and where they come from
to guide where they are going.
The importance of Black fathers to teach this is so valuable that each
generation that does not have a connection with their fathers is being
lost in a world of assimilation and association that is leading Black
children to places they should not go. Fathers are the “Gap in the
Bookshelf” for their children when fathers are not present.
Fathers fill a gap that only a father can.
The words of Chinua Achebe ring true in 2015 stated, “adults and
children are forgetting the continuity of the generations remember the
past sacrifices so you can grow beyond just surviving.”
Black parents must teach their children and their grandchildren
the power of education, this education must come from home first if
Black children are too respect learning and the architects which are
the teachers of schools.
Blacks must understand as was stated by Achebe; “Blacks cannot
put themselves in white’s shoes and live their lives. There will be no
change unless Blacks put themselves in positions to learn and gain
education that allows them to compete even on an uneven playing field.”
Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian author that was known and honored as the
foundation of Nigerian literature from his books, poems and diverse
writings. As a parent, educator, and Black man I see many of the similarities
that Blacks have and are experiencing that have happened in Nigeria,
South Africa and other areas of Africa from colonization and Apartied.
Blacks that deny the cultural heritage and acceptance of African ancestry
are destroying their foundation as a people and are slowly being assimilated
into a culture that is still racist and refuses in many ways to truly accept people
of color. Yes there is a Black President, look at the attacks he faces from those
who do not even honor the position of President of the United States of America.
“Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly
designed by history and by providence to perform.” Chinua Achebe
Black homes should be cradling and setting their homes on a foundation
of reading and comprehension. Not the accumulation of things that diminish
in time and have no value after several months. These commodities are
temporary and will be used and destroyed or replaced over time by the newest
model that is put on the shelves of stores. Black homes should be filled with
books and Black children as Achebe states “children should be fascinated by
books.” Even Malcolm X as controversial as he still is exclaimed the value of
learning, reading and cultural respect and understanding.
The power of reading allows children to see themselves as human beings and
not the fodder of violence, hopelessness and self-destruction that the media
and entertainment industry project them as. There are two ways that Blacks
can change their direction in life from my opinion; living in this multicultural
society change will only come when Blacks accept education as the foundation
of cultural growth in this society. Sharing the successes of past and current
Blacks; Black communities should sit down with each other first to solve their
cultural and community problems. Achebe having lived through colonization and
the fight for independence through wars and upheaval wisely states that
“we should not carry the baggage of race and racism into the 21st century.”
The issue of race and racism is rampant in the Black community itself, it is
being denied and ignored, termed “Colorism.” These feelings and self destructive
actions must stop because it will continue to destroy Blacks from within,
like a cancer that festers and grows to a point where even surgery will not save
a people. Just as there are in life many types of cancers the same applies to the
ills of Blacks. Blacks must change their thinking on a wide scale, not allowing
jealousy and fear to aid in the growth of cultural hate. Parents in Black
communities must understand that they are the foundation for their Black
children so must examine their foundations and change them in order to help
their children to be better than they are.
Blacks cannot wait for a President to make changes for them, they cannot
wait for the government to make changes and they cannot wait for churches
to make changes. The change must be a priority through the value of learning,
growth and unity. Too many Black children believe they are not important and
feel they are intellectually inferior. One reason is because they lack the
knowledge of past successes of Blacks throughout history. Achebe has stated
in a quote that when people control what you think they control who you are
and what you may become.
Chinua Achebe “…mediocrity destroys the very fabric of a country as surely
as a war — ushering in all sorts of banality, ineptitude, corruption and debauchery,”
and Black parents in this age of technology and learning cannot accept mediocrity
in their children. What story will be told of their lives and their children, will it be
of academic success or societal dependence on welfare, EBT cards and food
handouts and how many times our Black boys and men have been in jail.
Achebe states: “Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control,
they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state,
in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.”
There need to be more Black bloggers especially men to tell their stories
and share their experiences.
Parents must provide an atmosphere of greatness, high self-esteem and
self worth. Who else can on a daily mission tell their beautiful and intelligent
children that they are important, they are intelligent and can be successful!!
As an educator having struggled myself with reading at a young age, I now
embrace books, I try to share the empowerment of learning and the importance
of reading with all my students both in elementary and the college environment.
Parents need to look carefully at the stories; content their children are reading
and exposed too. Encourage literature that ignites a fire to learn in their babies.
Black children’s minds are like blank parchments or blank paper waiting for
the colors, texts, photos that guide their thinking and even influence their
feelings to be placed on the paper of memories. Poverty has and continues to
embrace Black communities, not because there are no jobs, but because Blacks
are not prepared for new jobs in areas like STEAM / STEM Science Technology
Engineering Arts Mathematics this must change in the Black community.
Assimilation and association cannot be continued because those being assimilated
loose their attempt to be something they are not. Black fathers are a foundation,
they are role models, they should be held accountable. Blacks must learn other
cultures cannot put value on their lives or their children’s lives. So Blacks must
empower themselves to grow out of poverty, oppression, political weakness and
Blacks must be able to learn from the society they live in, but cannot afford to lose
their cultural traditions that engage reading and comprehension. Many will
disagree with me, but truth be told #BlackLivesMatter and education makes
Black Lives Matter More…..
The power of literature:
Toni Morrison Reads “English and the African Writer” by Chinua Achebe
Books Black Children Should Read
This is a growing picture listing of books that I find in libraries,
book stores, and other places that I travel. I hope you find some
titles that will inspire your children no matter what color or culture