A Tree Without Roots | Teen Ink

A Tree Without Roots

March 10, 2010
By Sienna BRONZE, Somewhere, New Jersey
Sienna BRONZE, Somewhere, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” -- Oscar Wilde

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots”

-Marcus Garvey

A significant issue in the lives of African Americans is a subtle, yet important one. I believe the root of the problem can be found in America’s public school system. History classes are structured around teaching students about European civilization and exploration. Much of African and African American history is not covered in schools, possibly due to deep seeded racism since the conception of slavery in America.

Most students, whether black or white, are unaware of the fact that the first modern man was of African descent. They are also ignorant of the fact that Africans created prosperous civilizations with their own hierarchies, weapons, and jewelry before humans even spread to Europe. In 690 B.C., Taharka, the greatest of the Ethiopian Pharaohs, began his rule and under his kingship his country enjoyed a period of prosperity for about twenty-five years. Sadly, many African Americans (and people of other races, for that matter) do not know the rich history of Africa. To most Americans, Africa is a place where lawless savages ran wild not the place credited for the beginning of human civilization.

The next phase of African American history, usually trivialized to a chapter, a page, or a paragraph depending on the school or grade level is the African Diaspora and Slavery. Many history programs forget or refuse to mention the Black heroes of this time, such as Nat Turner, Jean Jacques DesSalines, Robert Purvis, and Charlotte Grimke. Students are led to believe slaves were content with their plight in life and Abraham Lincoln was the slaves’ saving grace. Little is mentioned about the Africans on board the Amistad who rebelled against their captors or Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave who lead the revolt in Haiti. Many of these unsung heroes never get a sentence let alone a page in most history textbooks.

The Civil Rights Movement was a ground breaking event in African American history. Great African American leaders, such as, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X left a permanent mark in American history. Undoubtedly, most Americans can identify the aforementioned people, but what about the significant figures of color before this era? African Americans did not wait idly by until 1950 to seek equality or justice. Thurgood Marshall began litigating cases on inequality in the late 1930s in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1909, W.E. B. DuBois and other influential African Americans started the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). African American History is more than slavery and the Civil Right’s Movement.

A Yoruba (West African tribe) proverb reads, “If we stand tall it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.” How can American children of African descent stand tall with so little knowledge of our past? Without being proud of one’s heritage, it is also impossible to be proud of one’s self. I believe this lack of self-awareness is one of the major ills plaguing the Black communities in America, because how can anyone have true self-esteem, without knowing who one self truly is?

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This article has 77 comments.

on May. 5 2010 at 4:36 pm
krazykathleen BRONZE, Edwardsville, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"7/5 of all people do not understand fractions." -Unknown

I attend a public school, and we learn lots about African Americans, along with standard American history. Some othe schools may be different, though. Nice writing and research.

iluvu2 said...
on Apr. 13 2010 at 2:42 pm
iluvu2, Jersey City, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Et tu, Brute?"

My school situation is very similiar.  We only celebrate other cultures during holidays, otherwise we are only learning about people who represent "main stream" America.

Diamond said...
on Apr. 6 2010 at 9:23 am
Diamond, Jersey City, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
That what's up!!!

I too understand.  I attend a multicultural high school, however, we only learn about blacks in Feb., Hispanics in Sept., and famous women in Mar.  How sad and America is suppose to be a melting pot?

abbey92 GOLD said...
on Apr. 2 2010 at 9:55 am
abbey92 GOLD, Fremont, Nebraska
10 articles 0 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
she smiles like she's so tough
she's just someones daughter waiting for some one to love her

never leave the one you love for the one you like because the one you like will leave you for the one they love

I know what you mean. even tho im as white as you can get, i still think we should learn about that stuff also. i can rember my 7th grade english teacher, she was the only black teacher in th whole school distric. she tought us all about famouse black people. it was amazing to find out there was more then the school books said there was. it's cool to know that  malcom x, m.l.k., and rosa park arnt the only people who made a difrence.

unoit said...
on Apr. 1 2010 at 8:46 am
I learned about Charlotte Grimke in English class last month.  She was an amazing writer.   Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for an African American woman to get published in The Atlantic Monthly?  This is still one of the most prestigious publications for writers today.

Rutgers said...
on Mar. 31 2010 at 10:19 am
I truely enjoyed this article.  Her perspective regarding why young people lack knowledge regading their history was most impressive.

Keesha said...
on Mar. 30 2010 at 2:43 pm
Very unique view, I always believed the media was to blame for many of the problems in the communities of miniorities, never thought about the school system.  Great food for thought, at least it got me thinking.

Sunshine said...
on Mar. 30 2010 at 10:48 am
I do agree that we as a race of people, African Americans are not getting our due rewards.  We have contruted so much to history, but the Europeans donot want it to be known.  However what we can do is to remind our own people of our history, and not limit it  to February only.

Quetta11 said...
on Mar. 30 2010 at 10:35 am
Attending a prodominately multicultured school up until highschool, i must admit, I lacked most of the knowledge of my Roots. In  my formative years the opportunity to experience African American History seemed scarce, now that I look back upon it, therefore it is well to know that youth, such as yourself, are aware of the inequities of the educational system and able to share your knowledge with others. As you wrote, "Many of these unsung heroes never get a sentence let alone a page in most history textbooks." However you are a STATEMENT and possible a PRECEDENT of hero that will mark a place in history, just by using your purpose to entertain people with your thoughts....here you become the ROOT. Very well written. 

Mr.S said...
on Mar. 30 2010 at 10:34 am
Well written article and oh, so true.  As a Social Studies teacher, my opinion is that unfortunately, the contributions of most if not all minorities have either been "overlooked" or not given full attention in the history books.   As America has been called the "Great Melting Pot" to use an old phrase, our history should reflect the contributions, etc., of all that have come to our shores.

howboutthat said...
on Mar. 29 2010 at 10:30 am
I too feel the African American experience is often trivialized by the American school system.   I think more of our peers should also pick up the pen and write to our school leaders to complain about this problem. You have sure motivated me to do so!!!!

Steelerman62 said...
on Mar. 27 2010 at 10:26 am
I found the report insightful and very important.  It was not until college that I had the opportunity to experience formal education of African American History. It was like I was reborn and my mind had been awaken. It's about the history of the world and elementary and secondary schools should certainly include it in their curriculum. I whole heartly agree with the author.

on Mar. 26 2010 at 7:19 am

Did you that Amy Garvey, (wife of Marcus) did most of the work for her husband who was jailed most of his life. Interesting Thoughts!!!!

Duchess to Alice(from Alice in Wonderland)

Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to then be otherwise.....

myles57 said...
on Mar. 25 2010 at 3:30 pm
Excellent essay! It's good to know that today's youth are aware of the inequities of the educational system. Well written and researched. I hope you are planning to teach someday.

2big4u said...
on Mar. 24 2010 at 2:05 pm
Oops!!! I meant to write for far too long.

2big4u said...
on Mar. 24 2010 at 2:03 pm
Your point is sad but true. For far two long the African American experience has not been properly covered in the US school system.

Rochelle said...
on Mar. 24 2010 at 9:58 am
This article was written by someone who has taking the time out to not only acknowledge the tradegy of African-American youths being deprived of their history but to take a stand. Five Stars! Yes, it is true a house will not survive a storm without a good foundation.

BROWN said...
on Mar. 24 2010 at 9:48 am

TEECHA said...
on Mar. 24 2010 at 7:30 am
Just for your knowledge, I want you to know that in the state of NJ their is legistlation for African-American history to be infused into the curriculum and instruction at public schools. This legislation is called the Amistad Commission. The problem here is that who is willing to support, promote, and ultimately teach true African/American History on the elementary and High school levels. Unfortunately, we still live in a society where truth has to be sought after by the individual and not be provided by the public. Keep your concern and struggle for this issue alive.

ericsmom2010 said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 6:08 pm
Very insightful!!! It’s inspiring to read something by a young person that has so much knowledge about their heritage.