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.

Knowledge said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 5:39 pm
As a teen this is very insightful and eye opening. Is there still hope for our teens that are ignorant of their history to become informed ???

lodie said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 2:21 pm
The essay was fantastic! Fantastic research, and writing.

Big Willie said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 1:43 pm
You are so right. Too many young people believe African American culture begins with Tupac and end with Lil Wayne.

mama curl said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 11:06 am
This was a great article and very true. If you don't know where you're going you won't know where you're going.

Gracie said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 10:17 am
You go girl...true points indeed!

Hottie said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 8:19 am
Great insight

mburke said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 7:44 am
Very good point, especially about Hati.

KKells said...
on Mar. 23 2010 at 5:16 am
Everything that is written in this article is absolutely true. Most of the African Americans in the town I grew up in have suffered a cultural identity crisis because of this lack this educational deceit.

Anonymous said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 10:51 pm
Very good points and very interesting ideas presented, but what is the problem exactly that you allude to? Is it social inequities? Or is it the lack of cultural pride amongst African-Americans? Or some combination thereof? Very interesting in any case, and I love the Garvey quote...

Sienna BRONZE said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 7:36 pm
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

But you obviously already know how to read and write. Why not learn something new?

crazy4u said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 6:13 pm
If people want to learn more about their heritage, maybe they should try reading a book on their own time not my time to learn how to read and write.

babyn said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 4:45 pm
I think you've hit part of the nail on the head, only because there are much more problems besides this. You did any an amazing job with getting to the point and supporting it.

on Mar. 22 2010 at 1:44 pm
Inspiring, makes me want to learn more about the African American experience.

coolguidembs said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 12:48 pm
This article is very well written and informative. It expresses a sad truth about our nation and the effects of not fully representing the whole History of Africa and her Desendents . It shows that telling pieces of a Hi-STORY do not add up to a Whole Truth and can truly misrepresent and distort the Truth.

Gymguy said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 11:36 am
This article is well written and informative!! I love that this was written by a teenager . Not all of our youth are lost !!

MR.FRED said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 11:00 am

ldlp said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 10:14 am
You are correct in stating that African American should be proud of their heritage and to build upon that strength. I do agree that the school system in America focuses too much on the issue of slavery and not much on the achievements of those Africans who lived before slavery. If schools shift the focus of slavery and more on the achievements then maybe African descendents will learn to appreciate their culture and self esteem.

Shay said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 9:24 am
Interesting and very true article...keep up the good work. You represent our youth and heritage...be blessed, young blood!!!

Ladyscott said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 9:15 am
A well written and informative piece of writing. Great to see a young mind thinking about an important topic.

Lili29 said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 8:55 am
Well written and extremely informative! It is imperative that African Americans research and become knowledgeable of their African roots.