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Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Ancient Secrets for Success

Friday, October 4th, 2019

For the past forty years I have been involved in education, as a middle school social studies teacher, middle and high school counselor, multicultural director for Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District, adjunct professor at Denver University School of Education, principal of Challenges, Choices and Images Charter School, and as a marriage and family psychotherapist in private practice. Throughout this lengthy career I have observed and participated patiently at times and aggressively at others the societal and community push for more equitable educational opportunities for marginalized groups of children. While this push at times seemed to be genuine, the results have remained the same. This is especially true for African American children who consistently receive more disciplinary actions and less academic support.

In 1990, I along with a number of educators, parents and community members established Challenges, Choices and Images (CCI) a civic organization that focused on developing programs to support African American and other marginalized groups of children and their families. The first CCI sponsored project was the CCI Saturday School which ran for five consecutive years with volunteer teachers and other support staff, serving over 100 children per year along with dozens of parents. The program was so successful parents asked that we open a full-time school. The independent school ran from 1997-1999 when the organization applied for and received a Denver Public School Charter. The CCI school ran successfully from 1999-2008 receiving the 2004 Governor’s Award and the Colorado Department of Education Award for Most Improved School in the State.
Over the last ten years I have sat on the sidelines watching, as more and more schools founded by African Americans and Latino’s are too often closed by trumped-up fraudulent charges made by unscrupulous, diabolical, and greedy financial firms, politicians, and educational institutions seeking to fulfill their own selfish agendas and goals. During these ten years the school systems, public and charter, continue delivering devastating outcomes for marginalized groups of children, especially African American. This, continues, despite the efforts of concerned groups of parents, educators, civic organizations and just plain ordinary citizens diligently working to improve educational outcomes for marginalized groups of children.

Also, over the last ten years, I have had time to reflect on what I see as the real problems, we as marginalized people face. We face challenges in not just educational institutions, but in all aspects of life in the United States to include: the government, politics, the job markets, businesses, housing, health, and even our own families and churches. While I recognize the significance of all these challenges we are facing, education is my major concern. Schools, whether they are private, public or charter are places of indoctrination, and are not designed as meritocracies, even though that is the claim we often hear. Schools were and still are used as sorting machines, sorting the various groups into categories: the fit verses the unfit, those considered superior from those considered as inferior; by class and the financial and social status of one’s family, by race, gender, and others including standardized tests that supposedly are unbiased and measure individuals ability or intelligence.

Along with being sorting machines, schools are political institutions designed to maintain the status quo—the power of the white elite and status and wealth of politicians who do the work for the white elite. The main purpose of both is to establish institutions that create greater wealth and power for both the white elite and the politicians, keeping the masses in their place. In The Ways Schools Work, (1995) the authors Bennet and deMarrais point out that, “schools are organized to facilitate resistance to changes not congenial to dominant groups in the system or society…and are designed to have great impact on the thinking and behavior of children, holding them captive through compulsory education laws that make it mandatory to attend school from ages 5 to 18. In those years children cannot escape indoctrination.” At the same time, as schools became mandatory, European scientists, in the eighteen-hundreds, were busy using faulty science to prove the inferiority of black people and the superiority of white people. These theories aligned perfectly with mandatory public education policies which no cultural group of children white or black, could escape. Thus, all children learned to behave in accordance with their color designation. White pseudo-scientific theories designed to prove white superiority and black inferiority married mandatory public-school attendance. This became an extremely effective tool used to perpetuate, for hundreds of years, a system of discrimination, oppression, denial of equal opportunity, and the blaming of the child deemed as inferior for their own lack of academic achievement, rather than on the system.

It is clear that the greed and selfishness of the white elite and politicians were the driving forces in the establishment of mandatory public-schools. White skin, in the eighteen-hundreds, was an effective political tool used to maintain power. Thus, the government began bestowing the status of “white” to immigrants from supposed undesirable countries (those with skin tones light-brown or tan than white) such as Ireland, Poland, Hungry, Italy and Jews and other undesirables, not yet classified as white. They were all not formally classified as “white”. In this way the powers that be sought to prevent these newly designated white groups from forming bonds and uniting with blacks which, in reality could become a powerful force to overthrow the status quo and white minority, wealthy elite.

Bestowing the honorary status of “white” to these immigrants left only Blacks and Native Americans without this designation, making whites for the first time in the newly formed United States the majority population. To maintain this majority status, the newly adorned “white” groups (those who had originally been viewed also as inferior) were elevated in status and indoctrinated using the mandatory public education system to ensure the continued power of the wealthy white elite and the politicians whose interest was to satisfy their own greedy and selfish interests. The newly ordained whites in order to secure their newly found status had to disavow their own interests and needs to remain in good stead and keep their newly found status. Thus, the policies and practices of public schools and all other institutions including politics were and still are perpetually supported by whites (rich, middle class and the poor) who in turn gain some benefits from the system, though most will not admit it.

Is there any way African American’s can change this system and make it more equitable? We have tried increasing the number of Black and Brown teachers and administrators hired into positions of power, but too often, if they are to survive in these positions, they too become products of school culture, a culture that demands assimilation, even as most try to resist. Other things we have tried are cultural awareness programs, African American and Latino studies, multicultural programs that focus on culturally responsive pedagogy, and workshops on racism and cultural bias.
To fight the system, African Americans have vehemently shown their dissatisfaction through demonstrations, and filing court cases in local, state and federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court, as with the Brown v. Board which even today is not fully implemented. We have tried taking combative and conciliatory approaches, being passive and participating in advisory groups, and coming up with solutions that often are never put into full practice. We have tried boycotts, workshops, threats and assimilation, but still the white supremacy system of greed and selfishness prevails. We have fought to be educated in this country for over 400 years. Our enslaved ancestors taught themselves the language spoken by the oppressors; they snuck books from the big house, where they secretly put letters together to form words. During and after Reconstruction our ancestors came together, sometimes with the help of abolitionists and religious groups such as the Holiness, a rebel group of the Methodist Church and Quakers putting together crude structures to serve as school facilities, where volunteer teachers, white and black often worked with little or no pay, and members of the community providing wood for heating. Our ancestors fought to be included in public school funding available to white students, but not having any success, in order to keep the school open, they had to rely on limited funding, unequal educational facilities, inferior materials, and less pay for their teachers.

So here we are in 2019, one hundred fifty-four years from emancipation, and four-hundred years plus from the time we entered this country, stolen from our homes and the country we knew and loved and now watching as our children are demoralized, oppressed and taught that they are inferior and incapable of higher levels of learning. We are forced to watch as so many of our children are continually labeled as the victimizers preventing other children from learning, while all the time overlooking how our children are habitually subjected to abuse, racism, discrimination, and are feared and seen as criminals. African American parents often feel the sting of being labeled lazy and good-for-nothing, welfare defrauders, loud and aggressive and the causes of their child’s school failures. Too often the school blames the child, the parent, and the neighborhood for the lack of school success of black and brown children while failing to acknowledge the role the school plays in keeping these children in their assigned roles of inferiority. What chance do they have at bucking this system without foundational changes and support from school staff and administration?

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A list of questions put forth by Black and Brown parents and communities for decades have been presented to school administrations, school boards, and teachers, but have not been answered with any satisfaction. The questions are: Are some reasons for the lack of school achievement due to the fact that there are too few teachers, administrators and staff support who look like them? Are some of the children failing because teachers do not know how to support their learning? Are they failing because too many of those who teach them are afraid of them or do not like them? Are they dropping out because they get labeled as early as 1st and 2nd grade as fodder for the prison system? Are they losing interest and dropping out because the curriculum fails to acknowledge their culture and the contributions of people who look like them? Are they dropping out because they fail to see people who look like them in the books they read? Are there other variables that should be taken into account that prevent our children from succeeding in both public and charter schools?

Are we to go for another 400 years watching our children fail? Do we have to continue begging school administrators to have meaningful conversations about the challenges our children face? Does the system feel it can appease the black and brown communities long enough for the noise to die done, and they have to do nothing? Should we continue to meet, make threats, and watch as nothing changes? Is 400 years not enough time for educational institutions to get their act together and meet the needs of all the children? Schools, what’s stopping you?

I know schools will not adequately address these questions or find the answers we are seeking because they have not done so in one hundred fifty-four years. To answer these questions, I reached back into the history of African Americans long before we were dragged into this country. What kind of society did we come from and what is preventing us from going back to what we knew and what was successful practice for us? A strategy I have used in my private psychotherapy practice with clients who are facing a serious dilemma is to have them hold up a .50-cent piece as close to their eyes as possible and have them tell me what they see. They report back that what they basically saw was the .50-cent piece. Then ask them to move the .50-cent piece out to arm’s length and asked again what they see? This time they see everything that is in front of them as well as the .50-cent piece.

For too long the African American community has sought solutions to our educational frustrations by looking for the solution from the close-up view of the .50 cent piece. From that viewpoint, it is impossible to reach beyond what we already see, think and believe. However, using what we see, think and believer from the up-close .50 cent viewpoint is crazy since these institutions are living up to their founding principles, how then can we expect them to change to meet our needs? We must realize that these institutions are founded on white supremacy, discrimination, unfair treatment, control by the white wealthy elite, greedy and selfish politicians and propaganda that stresses the inferiority of all black people and other marginalized, oppressed groups. The founding principles of most educational institutions, public and private have baked-in disparities, racism, and inequality of opportunity. Sadly, the notion put forth today is that these systems will change once, “old white-folks die.” We need to re-think that position! The research shows that 17 percent of today’s young white people are white supremacists and the number is growing. If we read our society correctly, we can see that the majority of whites, and even some blacks and browns, are propagandized through the media and other sources to believe that African Americans, Latinos and other marginalized groups are responsible for creating instability in our social structure. Through propaganda most whites believe that blacks and browns are stealing their jobs, working for lower wages, getting material benefits that they do not deserve like government financial aid for college, college admittance, and jobs that they are not qualified to have but gain through Affirmative Action. Many whites are afraid of losing “white” advantage even though most claim they have not benefited from it.

This does not mean that I think all whites are white supremacists or racist. My argument is that we as black and brown people need to find solutions to our own problems, and when we can join hands with other groups as equals, we should do that. But right now, for Black folks we need to find a solution to the educational crisis using powers of the divine spirit. Solutions aligned with divine spiritual power can and will allow us to create educational institutions that not only result in higher academic achievement for our children, but also creates a foundation committed to equality, and a structure for the development of high morals and values of all stakeholders: students, parents, staff, administration and community members, leaving behind the self-centered, greedy agendas found in our current educational institutions.

Our strong commitment to education is not new, it came from our past cellular memory of life lived in Africa. Before being enslaved in America, we lived in a civilization that was community and relational based and group and family oriented, and one that valued high levels of learning. Our collective memory recalled the time (over 4,000 years before the birth of Christ) when our ancient ancestors developed a civilization that was the envy of the world. For nearly 3,000 of those years our ancestors were free of any substantial threat of war or of any continual wars. It is a known fact that civilizations not facing continual wars have time to devote to deep thinking and scholarly works; these societies develop scholars, thinkers and inventors. This was happening in Africa while other European countries were still living barbarian existences basically due to continual wars and the threats of wars.

During this sustained length of relative peace, our ancestors developed a culture in which its members lived by a moral code that rested on the three manifestations of God which were also placed in man/woman by God as “It” created us. Those manifestations placed in us are: omnipresence, (God is eternal and so is man), omniscience (thought is God and God gave us this power allowing us to think all kinds of ideas, innovations etc.), and omnipotence (God brings all thought into existence and this man can also do using divine spiritual power). The ancient African scholars believed that God gave these manifestations to us so we could sustain, enhance life and perpetuate the beauty of all “Its” creation. God, to our ancestors lives within us—we are mini-gods endowed with the powers of God, but to a lesser degree.

To sustain a society of peace, prosperity and growth the ancient Africans established a civilizational structure that mimicked God’s organization of the universe, a structure which they had observed, by watching how the world worked, for thousands of years. Through their observations, patterns emerged. They witnessed the changes of the seasons, night turned into day and vice versa, the birth and death of all living things, the different kinds of animals, trees, flowers, insects, the rising and falling of the waters, and differences in human behaviors, features and qualities. They watched as new creations came into being and as old ones died or became extinct. By watching the changes, discussing them with other scholars, and re-thinking as new information came to them or others, they came to understand the principles upon which the universe was founded, and how best to use them to sustain their own lives, the lives of others and the universe.

What the ancients ascertained from these observations was that life on this planet rested on us using God manifestations embedded in us to take responsibility and accountability for our own actions and behavior by following the principles and practices set forth in several sacred documents. The first sacred document is The Principles of Maat which are representations of the natural forces in life that regulate all-natural events in the universe, including man’s biological makeup. These universal principles are: order, balance, harmony, reciprocity, propriety (doing the right thing at the right time), justice and truth. The second sacred document is The 42 Negative Confessions (which align almost perfectly with the 10 Commandments) and begin with “I have not” statements instead of “Thou shall not” statements. The Confessions are a demonstration of life lived in harmony with the Principles of Maat, and the Tree of Life. Life lived in this way is respectful of self, family, community and the universe and any digression is corrected through amends and atonement. Living life in this manner is done willingly as it is aligned with the manifestations of God whose powers are embedded in all human life.

The third document is the The Tree of Life which is a classification system composed of 11 categories showing their relationship to and interdependence of each other and the universe. Ten of the categories are how man/woman can actualize their lives moving higher and higher on the tree. The eleventh (11th) category is represented as “0” (zero) demonstrating that all aspects of tree are leading to the one and only creator, which if life is lived according to the sacred documents man/woman will have eternal life with God, in the spirit world. To the ancients, the God they worshipped was an everyday God, a spirit, an “It” and not a person. Thus, their God was not seen as a father or mother or an entity that had favorites because “It” does not have favorites

The ancient Africans studied the world in which they lived. In nature, through observations, they saw the legitimacy of the God who embedded in them the manifestations that would allow them to create, sustain and maintain the world as God had created it. They saw the presence of God in everything as reflected in everyday life. We too, if we look can see the Principles of Maat in everything in the universe. And it is clear to me that if we live in accordance with the sacred principles and documents, we can create institutions that change the trajectory of problems we see in our world today. The challenges we face in the schools can be changed by holding up these ancient, sacred documents and using them as blueprints to the solutions we seek.

The answers to our educational challenges are to go back, to re-visit what we had, how we used what we had, and what parts of what we had can be of used to change the trajectory of our lives and the lives of our children. The survival of us and the planet is a team effort that depends on how we conduct ourselves individually and collectively as family, community and as stewards of the planet, everything is intertwined and interdependent. Survival of us all is dependent on how we utilize the manifestations of God, omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence to align ourselves, our families, our communities, our churches and schools and political structures to meet the needs of all people, and not just a few. Using this structure whatever solutions, we come to, if they are inspired by and aligned with divine spiritual power, they will be of God. The African truism “As above, so below” attest to this.

To the ancient Africans there was no such thing as the “devil made me do it”, mentality. Any action or behavior that an individual engaged in, was done out of their own free-will which then required each person to take full responsibility and accountability for their actions. Knowing and believing this the ancient Africans made the observation that the “devil” or “Set” as they named “It” operated as a result of man’s free-will. By observation, the ancient Africans placed man’s behaviors and actions into three categories: Sahu Man, (the least God-like behaviors) AB Man
(most decisions based on divine spiritual powers) and Ausar Man (the most God-like behaviors). These designations are to help us understand that free-will is a choice, man/woman can choose which category they wish to belong.

Sahu Man is influenced by animal urges and desires (high emotional and sensual energy) which dominates the decisions they make due to the absence of influences and use of divine spiritual power. The Sahu Man operates on the urges of lust, envy and jealousy. They rarely utilize the gifts of insight, reflection and meditation which are tools that help us garner the power of divine spirit in bringing thoughts and ideas into reality. Sahu Man relies heavily on distortions of the truth, greed, selfishness and exploitation of others. The behaviors of the Sahu Man are responsible for keeping the foundations upon which most Western institutions are built, alive and thriving. Sahu Man keeps most Western institutions afloat and explains why it is easy to propagandize them with the notions of white supremacy and black inferiority. Sahu Man stands in the way of progress and assist institutions in maintaining the status quo, and is the main reason Western institutions will not change

The kinds of changes most marginalized people would like to see are not aligned with Sahu Man’s behaviors, however, unfortunately the Sahu Man resents the majority of people (black, white and brown), especially in the Western hemisphere but are rapidly moving to other parts of the world. If we seek significant changes to our institutions, they must come from the actions of the AB Man/woman. The AB Man/woman possess faculties that are midway between Sahu Man who demonstrates the least manifestations of God and Ausar Man who demonstrates the most manifestations of God. Men and women at the AB Man level play a mediating and transitional role; they are a shining light that brings us out of the darkness. They represent wisdom grounded in divine spiritual power as opposed to intellectual knowledge which examined for faulty assumptions, misinformation, miscalculations and cultural bias can be and are often purposely misleading. Think about all the scientists who determined that white people are superior to black people. Therefore, if we are to have lasting change in the institutions that have such great influence over our lives, the ideas, thoughts and words needed to make those changes come into reality must come from the divine spiritual power elicited from the behaviors and ideas of the AB Man. The changes we seek are those found in the following quote.

It is not true that many will be called but few will be chosen. There are no chosen! God does not play favoritism. It is that many will call upon God, but few will choose to live the truth.

VIDEO: Billy Scott, a Hero Among Us

Sunday, September 1st, 2019