Archive for the Black Links Category

The Official James Brown Channel Is On YouTube

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Music with tags , , on April 7, 2013 by Black Man

James Brown Knees

Brought to you by the folks at SHOUT! Factory, a group of people dedicated to preserving the legacy of artists like James Brown.

In a career that spanned six decades, James Brown profoundly influenced the development of many different musical genres.  For many years, Brown’s touring show was one of the most extravagant productions in American popular music. At the time of Brown’s death, his band included three guitarists, two bass guitar players, two drummers, three horns and a percussionist.  The bands that he maintained during the late 1960s and 1970s were of comparable size, and the bands also included a three-piece amplified string section that played during ballads.  Brown employed between 40 and 50 people for the James Brown Revue, and members of the revue traveled with him in a bus to cities and towns all over the country, performing upwards of 330 shows a year with almost all of the shows as one-nighters.   In 1986, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2000 into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

James Brown is ranked seventh on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”  Brown died on Christmas Day 2006 from heart failure.

James Brown Channel

Top 100 Family, Marriage, and Relationship Blogs for African Americans

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , on March 6, 2013 by Black Man

Businessman Wearing a Phone Headset at a Computer

Searching for content on the Internet can be a challenging task.  Depending on the topic, you can spend hours just conducting searches.  Well the folks at Best Black Dating Sites have made your job a lot easier by condensing and listing what they believe are the Top 100 family, marriage and relationship, community, relationship and self-improvement blog sites on the Internet for African Americans aka “black folks.”

Click below to visit the Top 100 Sites.

The State of Black Erotica

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Women's Interests with tags , , , , on February 26, 2013 by Black Man

Sensu_Soul

By Scottie Lowe

From the rhythmic tales of the sagacious griot, weaving colorful, hushed tales of slaves whose love endured the horrors of dehumanizing captivity, to the Harlem Renaissance with its unapologetic yet poetic examination of those mysterious elements that made our natures rise, to the soul-stirring harmonies of R&B that have been the soundtrack to seduction for decades, African Americans have always had a long tradition of erotic expression.  In 1992, an editor by the name of Miriam Decosta-Willis, published an anthology of erotica called Erotique Noire that was not only groundbreaking, it truly was a celebration of Black sensuality and set the stage for a new genre of expression.   Today, if one is brave enough to venture into the African American section of any bookstore, they will find it’s filled with shelf after shelf of degrading, crude, and offensive books that don’t even deserve to be called erotica.  We’ve come a long way baby, but it certainly hasn’t been an erotic evolution.

Writing Black erotica is a lot like rapping.  Anybody who can come up with three words that rhyme can call themselves a rapper; anyone who uses the words dick, pussy, and fuck in a sentence can call themselves an erotic writer.  Black erotic today consists of the same storyline told over and over again: super-beautiful women with abnormal libidos and superficial standards who seduce their super-rich, basketball-playing lovers who always have super-sized genitalia complete with matching, heightened sexual appetites, and a non-existent commitment to being in a relationship.  Throw in several dozen references to capitalist trinkets and you essentially have every Black erotic story on the shelves today.

Black erotica has made being ghetto equivalent to being Black.  African Americans have a unique culture and experience that have the potential to come across on the page in the reflections, words, and perceptions unique to the Black experience.  That, however, doesn’t have to include baby mamas, visiting day at prisons, spelling the words boys with a z, or eroticizing the N word.  Instead of writing about the beauty, pain, and history of descendents of slave, Black erotica has become little more than cliché tales of dysfunction with a few sexual escapades thrown in for good measure.  Yes, our stories need to be told, but glorifying behaviors that are unhealthy isn’t art.  There certainly is more to Black life than what we are being force-fed.

The road to where Black erotic currently resides has been paved with immaturity, ignorance, and fear.  So terrified are the Black middle class of being associated with the freaks and nymphos depicted in Black erotica, so distanced are African Americans from a healthy example of sexuality, they sit in complicit silence, never demanding more, never complaining about the proliferation of erotic literature that reduces Black sexuality to nothing more than a sweaty, recreational activity.  Rather than talk about sexuality openly, mature conversations about the subject are shunned in an effort to diminish the impact and scope of what goes on behind closed doors.  So desperate are Black Americans for any sort of erotic imagery and representation that reflects the lives of melanin-rich people, that that they know no better than to embrace the vulgarity that denigrates and diminishes the humanity of the entire race.

Erotica is not pornography no matter how much the conservative talking-heads want to insist it is.  Erotica is ART created to arouse the senses.  There is subtlety, nuance, emotion, and creativity in true erotica.  Porn has no subtlety; it’s graphic, it’s hardcore, it’s about arousing one region only.  Pictures of oiled booties and close up shots of a woman’s labia are not erotic.  Women being used, slapped, spit on, choked, and degraded is NOT erotica.  “Erotica is tasteful but porn is tasteless,” is how porn star Linda Lovelace described it.  As the old folks used to say, “She ain’t neva lied.”

The images of African Americans in the adult industry are largely atypical of the true Black experience. The perpetuation of racist and stereotypical images prevalent in the adult industry work to foster unhealthy perceptions of African Americans and render the majority of Black people without an avenue for healthy erotic expression. The perpetuation of the Black woman as the ghetto bitch, ghetto whore, and ghetto freak is not reflective of the vast and overwhelming majority of Black women. The perpetuation of the Black man as the barely literate, one-dimensional bull is offensive and steeped in sick prejudices that are not reflective of the vast majority of African American males either.

When our literary diets consist only of poorly written, grammatically incorrect, inane tales of ghetto sex, when the commercial objectification of Black women’s bodies can be downloaded for free 24 hours a day, that’s not feeding our souls, it’s poisoning our minds.  It’s crippling for Black people to subsist on damaging and dysfunctional depictions of intimacy.  We MUST raise the bar when it comes to what we are feeding ourselves erotically, when it comes to the sensual sustenance with which we nourish ourselves.

Even with the proliferation banal Black entertainment and the horrendous mediocrity of porn, there are still those who value the melodies and harmonies of jazz, who feel the angst of Morrison’s Beloved, who treasure the beauty of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, and who appreciate the artistry of true erotica.  Long gone are the days when we dog-eared the pages of Erotique Noire and quoted passages to our lovers in steamy late-night phone calls.  Truly empowering erotica lifts us up, paints a picture of our lives and our sexuality that have nothing to do with exchanging sex for money or adultery but that allows us sensual release and to mentally travel to a place of sights, sounds, sensations, and tastes that arouse all of our senses.

Scottie Lowe (2) Scottie Lowe is the owner of www.AfroerotiK.com, a website dedicated to showing Black people in a positive sexual light and the creator of Sensu-Soul, the groundbreaking erotic video that shows the depth, intensity, and passion of Black love.

Click here to see a short video.

Black History Month: The Foundation for Societal Progression

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on February 10, 2013 by Black Man

Carter G. Woodson

By H. Lewis Smith

What is the significance of Black history to Black/African Americans? In essence, to this race of people, to know one’s history is to truly and intimately appreciate, understand, and leverage one’s innate, unbreakable strength.  Dr. Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History Week, which later became Black History Month, understood the ramifications of Blacks remaining broken from and unknowledgeable of their history, and the apparent need for Blacks to retake control of their own destiny. Dr. Woodson understood that if Black/African Americans remained separated from and ignorant of their rich history, their roots of being, then they could have no foundation upon which to build a legacy. Plainly, no roots equal no growth, no future, only irrelevancy.

To be candid, the need for a Black History Month would be less apparent if the American halls of academe did not use systematic exploitation (past and present) to minimize exposure to Black/African-American history. The city school systems, colleges, universities and the media are by-products of Eurocentric educational philosophies. These systems were designed to retain real and/or comprehensive truths from Blacks. The system was established to teach (or force) African Americans to learn, believe, and accept European values, traditions, and habits, while at the same time neglecting and/or promoting minimal integration of Black culture and accomplishments.

Modern day manipulation of the Black/African-American mind was born out of slavery and fastly incorporated into the educational system to continually impose upon Blacks an inferior mindset that leads to lacking self-awareness. During slavery, it was forbidden for the Africans to practice their cultural traditions, honor their heritage, as well as to learn to read or write. They were basically stripped of everything that once defined them as a people and confined to learning only what slave owners permitted. Ultimately, over centuries of slavery and educational deprivation, those native ideals and traditions that African ancestors once held close within their hearts were replaced with false ideals of self of an unreal reality generation after generation. Eventually, Blacks born in America had no true and proud racial identity.

Once slavery was outlawed and Blacks were allowed to pursue education, White America devised yet another strategy to continue to push their Eurocentric ideals and veiled perception of Blacks on the Black populous. The primary channels of education for Blacks, since then, have become a perfect device for control from without. Without self-knowledge, a person has no orientation or direction; this status is akin to walking around with amnesia, or no memory of who one used to be. And with no memory of one’s past—which one’s past does often serve as a compass, a foundation to build upon and offers valuable life lessons, how can one know where they are headed? Black/African Americans must re-connect with their past and embrace it in its fullness no matter how difficult it is to accept some aspects of the ugliness that was imposed upon the people. Then and only then can Blacks progress as a race and arrive to their appointed superior position.

To be clear, historically, the Greeks traveled to Africa as students more than 2,500 years ago to discover what Africans already knew. Writing, science, medicine, and religion were already a part of the Egyptian civilization. History had already been documented thousands of years before Herodotus (the so-called `Father of History`) was even born. Herodotus, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, and other Greek Philosophers were all students of African priests.

Few Black/African-American college graduates are aware of this history, but yet most educated Blacks can name every European country on the map and have expert knowledge in the Greco-Roman era from a Eurocentric point of view. Interestingly enough, these same “highly-educated” people look upon Africans as being nothing more than jungle people living in huts who were blessed to be rescued from their savage lives by the white man. This perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As a matter of fact, during the 15th century, it was the Moors who rescued Europe from the Dark Ages. The Moors taught the Europeans maritime knowledge, which enabled whites to sail and discover Africa. Little did they know, their open sharing of knowledge precipitated the demise and eventual end of a once thriving and progressive Black civilization. Columbus would have never been able to happen upon the foreign land of America if it had not been for the education provided by the Moors.

Presently, the very existence of Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities in Black colleges and universities serves as a source of the promotion of the inferiority complex and the education of Black people against themselves. From their association and embracing of these Greek-lettered organizations comes a false worship of Greek intellect and acceptance perpetuated out of ignorance of one’s own philosophical thoughts, ideas and cognitive powers.

To put everything in proper perspective, consider the notion of how sheep dogs are trained. A sheep dog is trained by being placed in a pen as a puppy with other sheep. This puppy nurses and sucks on a sheep mother and it grows up thinking it’s a sheep.  In other words, it has the body, intelligence, endurance and strength of a dog, but it has the mind frame or thought of a sheep.

Because of this sheep dog’s mind frame, it can be trained to do things a-typical of dogs and not in its own interest; the sheep dog will have no allegiance to other dogs. For example, the sheep dog and a non-sheep dog could be born at the same time from the same mother. If that sheep dog never saw that other puppy again until later years as a full grown dog, the sheep dog would treat this dog as if they were enemies. The sheep dog would turn its back on the other dog because although it looks like and is a dog, its mind has been trained and manipulated to think otherwise. The sheep dog believes it is a sheep, and, therefore, defends that which it is not from what it actually is.

This analogy relates to the conditioning of the African American against his own kind, heritage, and culture: consider the black child who, from elementary school throughout his studies to, perhaps, eventually becoming a PhD graduate, has always exclusively read and studied another culture/race’s history. This person has been trained against his own, to think in terms of someone it is not. That lacking self-knowledge is the key to separation, confusion, and stagnation or regression.

If effects of slavery are to be mitigated, it must first be acknowledged that the systemic created some unnatural behaviors in Black/African Americans. In present day and only a FEW decades removed from state-sanctioned slavery, much of the trauma of that era still afflicts the race of people.  Blacks did not deserve for this to happen, but it did. As such, Blacks must acknowledge the truth of the matter, embrace the fact that ailing issues still exist, and understand that recognition of the affliction will only give rise to alternatives for remedy.

Many people appreciate the value of sharing black history—the good and unfavorable aspects—and strongly support the ongoing study and celebration of black history every day of the year. They understand celebrating black history stretches well beyond just learning the history of a people: history plays a significant role in establishing a healthy mentality, molding one’s self-image and, ultimately, the society.

Yet, others are perfectly content with celebrating black history only one time per year—or not at all—and limiting the extent of knowledge shared. They see no further need beyond the month of February to examine the black culture or emphasize African and Black/African-American contributions that unequivocally helped shape and redesign America’s landscape. For those opposers of Black History Month, one must beg the question of how can a black person—of any ethnic, social, or cultural up-bringing—want to eliminate and disassociate themselves with the total scheme of black history—ranging from a rich African history to African-American accounts? The whole idea is preposterous and simply befuddling.

Capture their minds, and their hearts and souls will follow is an age old game of deception and propaganda, influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes and behaviors of those being subdued.  An all-encompassing and on-going study of Black History is not optional but imperative. Blacks must become re-educated in line with Dr. Woodson’s definition of the term. He fought to have Blacks’ history brought to the world’s attention for one month per year; Blacks must take up the rest of the fight and serve to make black history a natural and daily part of everyone’s education within and without the community. Once all people accept that vast, rich and dynamic Black history, Blacks will bring light and resolve to the issues plaguing Black America, rising up to again become that solid, unified, contributing force to humanity. Ultimately, the entire society will benefit from the truth of Black history.

H. Lewis Smith H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. www.theunitedvoices.com, and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”. Follow H. Lewis Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thescoop1.

Higher Hopes: A Black Man’s Guide to College

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Book Reviews and More, Latino Interests with tags , , , on January 27, 2013 by Black Man

BlackCollegeCover

Book Review by Black Men In America.com

We all should know the value of a good education.  College is not for everyone.  If you are suited for college, you need to read this guide.  Higher Hopes:  A Black Man’s Guide to College helps you find the right tools, tips and strategies to have a successful college career.

Author R. D. Smith wrote this book based on his own college experience coupled with the sobering statistics of poor black male performance in college settings.  Smith concluded that many black men were capable of succeeding in college but many did not know how to succeed.  In other cases, students received bad advice or did not understand or know the value of a college education could positively impact one’s life.

The book is straight talk with encouraging and painful stories that most people can relate to when it comes to navigating the mazes associated with institutions of higher learning.

Author R. D. Smith attending the University of Virginia and graduated with honors earning a double major in commerce and physics.  He later earned his MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Click here to read a sample chapter of the book.

Click here to purchase the book.

Oxygen Cancels “All My Babies Mamas”

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Women's Interests with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Black Man

Shawty Lo

By Black Men In America.com

Many of you know that our Founder and Publisher Gary Johnson is one of the original members assembled by author and social activist Sabrina Lamb to make sure that “All My Babies Mamas” never made it to the airwaves.  Today, it was announced that the Oxygen television network decided to cancel the show that they said was in development as a television special.

“As part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special,” an Oxygen spokesperson said in a statement to theGrio. “We will continue to develop compelling content that resonates with our young female viewers and drives the cultural conversation.”

The program was initially slated for release this spring as a one hour reality special on Oxygen TV. The show would follow Shawty Lo and his 11 children by ten different mothers.  According to Oxygen, “Shawty Lo and his family were considered for the show, but other families were being considered as well.”

Related Posts:

http://bmia.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/oxygen-unsure-about-future-of-shawty-lo-reality-show/

http://bmia.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/stop-the-madness-we-dont-need-this-reality-show/

New Film Shows That “Soul Food” and Black Folks Aren’t Always a Healthy Match

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson, Health & Fitness, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2012 by Black Man

Soul Food2

By Gary A. Johnson

  • Fact:  Soul food and southern style cooking is high in saturated fat.
  • Fact:  Fat tastes good.
  • Fact:  Black people are twice as likely to die of stroke before age 75 than other population groups.  

“Soul Food Junkies,” is a new film by Byron Hurt which will air January 14, 2013 on PBS.  In the documentary Hurt explores the addiction that black people have with “soul food.”

Hurt also explores the health advantages and disadvantages of “soul food” and peers inside the unhealthy side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement.

Hurt interviewed a wide variety of people including chefs and health experts and concluded that black folks’ addiction to soul food is killing them.

I’m not sure that we needed a documentary to confirm that, but if a film helps to spread the word that people need to adopt healthier eating habits, then let’s get everyone we know to watch this film.

Growing up I was raised on fried and fatty foods.  My father would cook grits, bacon, pork sausage and fried eggs for breakfast and pour the grease from the pan on top of the grits for extra flavor.  That leftover grease would then be poured in a jar on the stove to be used for the next meal.

There was no thing as “turkey sausage” in my house.  I didn’t learn about “turkey sausage” until I was in my late twenties.  Turkey sausage is an insult to pigs everywhere.  There is no substitute for the taste of bacon.  If I was running the pork industry; I would move to legally prevent the turkey industry from using the term “bacon.”  At best, they should call it “turkey breakfast meat.”  I know that I have offended turkey lovers with those comments about turkey bacon.  What can I say?  I told you that I still struggle.

As I learned more about healthy cooking, I had to break some of my “cultural conditioning” when it came to food.  It was not an easy transition to rid myself of those unhealthy cooking habits.

Today, I still struggle.  I do the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping in my household.  I have an emotional connection with my food.  I struggle every day to eat healthy.  I win the battle most days and offset my weak days with regular exercise.  I don’t recycle cooking oil, I buy fresh vegetables, I bake much more than I fry and I get regular exercise.  Despite this effort, I still struggle with my weight and battle my predisposed genetics.

Thank goodness my children are healthy and health conscious.  “Soul food” can be healthy.  We have to make better choices in our cooking and eating habits.

Watch a preview of the documentary below.

Byron Hurt Byron Hurt is an anti-sexist activist who provides cutting-edge male leadership, expert analysis, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitation in the field of sexual and gender violence prevention and education.  You can learn more about him by visiting his web site at www.bhurt.com.

Cornel West: ‘Coward’ Obama Doesn’t Care When ‘Black Folk’ Get Shot, Only When ‘Vanilla’ Children Do

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Black Man

Cornel West

By Black Men In America.com Staff

Oh my.  Here we go again.  In wrestling parlance, it looks as if we have a “cage match,” between the team of “Terrible Tavis Smiley” and his partner “The Professor” Cornel West against President Barack Obama and his policies.

In this latest war of words, Professor West made his comments on Saturday, December 22, 2012, on the “Smiley and West” radio show.  These two guys have no quit in them.  I guess you can say they have the courage of their convictions when it comes to putting issues they believe of interest on the public table for discussion.

Following the shooting death  of 26 children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, Saturday, West referred to President Obama and other (unnamed) politicians as “cowards” who only cares about “vanilla” children.  Smiley and West have been frequent critics of President Obama and they don’t seem to care what people say or think about them.

West, an open and frequent critic of Obama, referring to the soaring homicide rate in Chicago, said the president did not care when “black folk” get shot in his own state.

US-POLITICS-OBAMAsmiley-and-west1

Click here to listen to Professor West’s comments as he is being interviewed by Tavis Smiley.

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and the Afro Cuban All Stars 2013 U.S. Tour

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Latino Interests, Music with tags , , on December 23, 2012 by Black Man

juan-de-marcos-gonzalez Afro-Cuban-all-stars

Juan De Marcos Gonzalez is a Cuban bandleader, the architect of the legendary Afro-Cuban All Stars, (the foundation for The Buena Vista Social Club) and the founder of another successful Cuban band, Sierra Maestra. To Juan de Marcos, music is religious medicine.  Finding spiritual solace playing the sacred rhythms of his ancestors; Juan De Marcos’ compositions often evoke healing memories in his audiences.

As a child in a musical household Juan de Marcos was trained at the feet of the Maestros.  From his father, Marcos Gonzalez; a singer for Arsenio Rodriguez’s Orchestra; to his Tio (Uncle), famed pianist of the Buena Vista Social Club; Ruben Gonzalez, Juan’s mission is the preservation of his rich musical inheritance.  He arranged, conducted, and produced The Buena Vista Social Club recordings to fulfill a dream; creating musical tributes that cured like a fountain of youth for those Cuban musicians whose era was thought long gone. Gonzalez became a bridge builder connecting the past and the future, the elders with the youth.

Juan De Marcos’ melodic story authenticates the blessing of his African ancestors.  Gonzalez has a special formula for each and every performance.   There is always a tremendous “fiesta” happening on stage, with an “All Star” cast of Cuba’s finest musicians to include his daughters and wife; culminating in an unforgettable show reminiscent of a night in La Habana of today, tomorrow and yester year.

JUAN DE MARCOS & THE AFRO CUBAN ALL STARS 2013 US TOUR

2013 US Tour Includes New Album Release!

Washington, DC December 1, 2012- Cuban heat is coming to 25 American cities this winter when Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars tour the US.  From Saturday, February 2nd in Anchorage, Alaska to Sunday March 24th, in Washington, DC; the Afro-Cuban All Stars make stops from west to east with extended performances in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City.  See a complete tour schedule below.

The Afro-Cuban All Stars Orchestra is a creation of acclaimed Cuban producer, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez.  Deemed the “Quincy Jones” of Cuba, he built his orchestra using Cuba’s best musicians & vocalists.

Juan de Marcos is available for interviews via phone from December 5, 2012 to January 25, 2013 and in person during the tour in select locations.  Please contact Miriam Machado-Jones at 301-379-4935, Elva Mason at 434-825-5142, or Vernon Keith Jones 404-312-4188 to schedule an interview.


Click Here To See The 2013 Tour Schedule

Contact Information

Elva Mason 434.825.5142

Mimi Machado-Jones 301.379.4935 

V. Keith Jones 404.312.4188

For More Info & to listen go to http://www.afrocubanallstarsonline.com/en/

Email: pressacasustour@dmahora.com

Reflections on My Trip to the Motherland

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , on November 26, 2012 by Black Man

By David Miller

I have vivid childhood memories of learning about life in Africa by reading National Geographic. As I’d leaf through the magazine seeing pictures of beautiful people, an amazing landscape and wild animals roaming the plains, I got a chance to learn about my ancestral homeland while escaping the harsh realities of urban life in the 70s and 80s.

Some 30 years later, in what can best be described as the trip-of-my-lifetime, I was blessed with a chance to visit the Africa I’d known only from National Geographic pages as well as TV and newspaper accounts. In September, I joined a small cohort of writers and professionals on a mission to sow seeds in the lives of children and families in the Eastern Region of Ghana. A West African nation most known for its first President, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana borders Cote d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east and The Gulf of Guinea o the south. Its population exceeds 24 million.

I was in The Motherland to participate in LEAP for Ghana, a multi-phase educational sustainability project founded by Virginia-based poet and writer Kwame Alexander. My group worked primarily with Juanita Britton of Washington, D.C., who has been installed as Queen Mother Nana Botwe Adobe II of the Konko Village. Our work included literacy training for teachers, literacy activities for children in kindergarten through eighth grades, donating school supplies and organizing and running a girl’s leadership conference.

Suffice it to say our work in Ghana was simultaneously difficult and rewarding. Most importantly to me, it shed light on just how much Africans need the skills, innovation and resources of African-Americans. Our comrades in Ghana are resilient, smart and possess a tremendous work ethic; however, the country as a whole struggles with condensed poverty, inadequate infrastructure and a dearth of resources. In Ghana, we worked daily with about 200 children ages 3 to 14. We engaged them in story time, mostly with the younger children, and worked on writing poetry and short stories with the older children. The challenges I witnessed firsthand in Ghana mirror, in some respects, the challenges plaguing many urban centers in the United States. The difference however, as I see it, is in Ghana there is an unyielding sense of personal responsibility to rise above dismal circumstances, including poverty and scarce educational resources. In Ghana, the children are eager to learn and want to be in school. Here in the U.S., particularly in urban areas, many U.S. children are chomping at the bit to reach 16 so they can drop out of high school, though they have absolutely no clue what they’ll do and sadly fail to realize there’s just no way they’ll make it in today’s global society without education.

The illiteracy rate in Ghana is 60 percent, and most children, especially females, don’t get past the ninth grade. Needless to say, Ghana, like many African countries, is experiencing enormous academic challenges. In the village of Konko, where most of our work was focused, not one student had reached high school in the past 10 years – attributable, in part, to students’ inability to pass a comprehensive examination and to cover annual tuition costs.

I was amazed by the high level of resiliency among Ghana’s school children, despite the numerous challenges they faced. I witnessed a thirst for education and knowledge that I reluctantly admit I have not seen, consistently, in school children in the Western World. It was refreshing to see children, particularly young children, so eager to learn. Likewise, I was impressed by their awareness that knowledge is power.

Each morning we had the opportunity to teach children and to learn from them, their parents and their Ghanaian instructors. Spending time with children who exhibited an unparalleled work ethic and drive to master academic principles was a rich and profound experience for me. I was also struck by how their teachers created engaging learning opportunities without the resources enjoyed by teachers in Western classrooms. Trust me when I tell you there were no computers or microscopes. And while U.S. teachers complain about overcrowded classrooms – justifiably so in most instances – try three children to a desk! Even so, the level of excitement and curiosity over teaching and learning was touching to watch.

Now that I’m back in my native Baltimore, I realize just how deeply I long to return to The Motherland to continue trying to help improve academic resources for Ghana’s children. Since returning from Africa, I’ve walked school hallways and seen African-American males with sagging pants and no books in their hands. I’ve also driven throughout the city and noticed far too many brothers selling or using drugs on street corners. Before going to Africa those scenes were hard to take. Now they make me nauseous.

My pilgrimage to Ghana heightened my global awareness of the plight of children. While I recognize the historical challenges in black and brown communities in the United States, my passion has compelled me to focus more globally. Early next year I plan to return to Ghana to continue the work I and my colleagues started. It is not just something about which I’m thinking. It is something I will do.

Spending more than 20 years fighting to support poor families and to improve failing schools in the United States has taken an emotional toll on me. I haven’t given up on our children or U.S. schools, but I know it will be good for me to concentrate my energies in another region of the world for a change. African-American children in the U.S. need a lot of help. No doubt. And the neighborhoods in some of our inner cities, where many of our children are reared in single-parent homes, often resemble war zones. But even a U.S. child living in the most dire circumstances is a gazillion times better off than the average African child. For that reason, I pledge to continue trying to support my African brothers and sisters. And I sincerely hope this commentary will inspire at least one person reading it to also make a pledge to invest in The Motherland.

David Miller is an author and social entrepreneur who focuses on youth development. Miller is also a member of LEAP for Ghana, an effort to build sustainable educational efforts for school-age children in that West African nation. Visit www.urbanyouth.org for more information on my work.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,805 other followers

%d bloggers like this: