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King Week: Slavery Questions Hold Important Lessons

There were some important historical lessons in cultural, religious, and racial relationships on the Internet this week.

King Week: Slavery Questions Hold Important Lessons


I, along with others, was deeply disturbed by the recent news of a homework assignment using slaves as an example that was given to a third-grade classroom in Gwinnett County.

I found the questions absurd and horrendous. I started expressing my thoughts on the Internet at Cascade Patch and Huffington Post and I received a lot of interesting responses. Here is a caption of one conversation. I will address the young lady I was corresponding with as Reader A and myself as Yolande  in our exchange of this important dialogue. Please read and grow:

Reader A:  For the woman who said I'm doing my 8 year old daughter a disservice by not talking to her about slavery, and boasting about showing your own child movies teaching such things---congratulat­ions, you must feel so proud. I personally enjoy my 8 year old still having her childhood intact, and I see no need in forcing her to grow up just because the society around her maybe says she should. Makeup at 10, hair-dye at 11, dating at 12, not in our household. So no, I am not doing my child a disservice­, maybe you ought to slow down a bit and let your little one play with dolls a little while longer before you judge me because I don't gather my little ones around the t.v. for popcorn and a Roots mini series marathon.

Yolande: Your mind is so absorbed with "racism" you cannot think straight. Not every "African American Home" or other cultural based homes are placing makeup on 10 year old girls, hair-dye at 11,  or allowing them to date at 12.  So, Yes , you are doing your child a disservice, when you embed racial comments such as those above in your child’s life.

Since, this is King’s Week, maybe, You and your daughter should watch on Youtube, "I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  or “Freedom Riders"  which discuss how white, blacks, Jews, and Gentiles died for each other for racial equality… I bet you and your daughter will grow a little bit more than where you are now.

Also, read the "I Have a Dream" Speech with your daughter and discuss its meaning of the  importance of this  historical epilogue: http://www­.huffingto­npost.com/­2011/01/17­/i-have-a-­dream-spee­ch-text_n_­809993.htm­l.  You are teaching your daughter about your culture. Also, it is time to teach her about American culture and history.  Furthermore, please send me informatio­n about the plight you have been through. I would be interested in sharing this with students I teach.

Reader A: Excuse me, but my family is Arab don't let my light skin fool you precious. So back up and breath for a second. And don't even get me started about how many of our people have fled their homelands seeking refuge from what once Palestinia­n land. You can't do that in American I'm afraid, the history of Palestine and Israel is such a touchy subject and I fear, you would be labeled anti-Semitic if you were to approach it without first having your lessons approved. Which in this country, could cost you your job. That's the plight of what my family has been through. When we speak of how history has been changed to paint one side as better than or the lesser of two evils, as Texas has done with rewriting history in their own school textbooks, we too have faced these same problems with our people. Sadly, antisemiti­sm is illegal in America, and can cost you your job especially if a child were to complain/a­sk questions to his parents who are of Israeli decent.

Yolande: (Hi Reader A). This is so interestin­g to me, I am going to have to do more research on Palestine'­s and Israel's relationsh­ip. So far, I understand there is a conflict between two cultures and two religious affiliatio­ns. Here is a true lesson in racial and cultural relationsh­ips that needs to be taught in our children's history lessons and guide them in thinking of solutions.

Also, It's not what you teach, however, how you teach the subject matter.

Also, you commented: "Sadly, anti-semiti­­sm is illegal in America,
and can cost you your job especially if a child were to complain/a­­sk
questions to his parents who are of Israeli decent."

In America, freedom of speech is one of our founding principles­. It is
how the dialogue takes place that will render it costly or not. A child asking questions is a window to his or her soul. I love when questions come forward by children about different cultures, it is within these questions we are shaping their belief and value systems.

For me, this conversati­on is an important history lesson within itself. Thank you so much for engaging me in this conversati­on.

Dr. Yolande
Atlanta, GA
Birth place and Cradle of the American
Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In a few brief inscriptions, Reader A and I were able to connect and exchange our thoughts, beliefs, and value systems. We were able to hold a responsible dialogue and discuss each other’s culture and we were sensitive to each other’s historical backgrounds. I was able to see her challenges in her native Middle East territory and her perception of being of Arab decent in America.

Children and adults at all ages can learn important lessons about race relationships from the unfortunate incident that happened in Gwinnett County schools. This is King’s Week across the world, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus have taught us to "Love one another."

I request of you at this time to do research on another’s culture or religion or even learn more about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Take time and have a conversation at the table of Brotherhood.

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