African Americans Do Read   Leave a comment

Someone said if you want to hide something from Blacks, put it in a book because Black people don’t read. Given the poor state of the public ed system, this may be true in many cases. But we come from a people who taught themselves to read on pain of death. They made it illegal to teach African Americans how to read. They beat us, sold us, murdered us, tore down and burned the schools we tried to build for ourselves. None of this quenched the fires of our desire to learn. So what happened? What convinced our children that reading and being smart in school is “acting white?” More importantly, how do we regain the hunger for knowledge that made us defy even the Grim Reaper?

A friend of mine told me when she was a child, she had loved to read. Then she was bussed to a White school where a White teacher told her that kids who read a lot talk too much. She was a child—impressionable. She wanted people to like her. She didn’t want people to think she talked too much. So she stopped reading. When I knew her, she was 30 years old still trying to get back her love for reading.

We can see this aversion to reading as a kind of “middle-passage.” A period that we went through as we move on to a greater vision of who we are and what we can achieve as African Americans.

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