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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Finding a true

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sense of self and |

African identity

By SHANNON WILLIAMS

Recorder Editor

“You’re lost and we want you back.”

That’s the response my friend received when she asked three Kenyan natives what they thought of African-Americans. During my friend Shana’s recent missionary trip to Africa with her church, she knew she would come back changed, but she wasn’t quite sure exactly how she’d change.

“Naturally it made me realize how fortunate we all are to live in America,” she said in a very thoughtful and deliberate manner. “We can complain about our government all we want but those people had absolutely nothing. They have no one to assist them.”

It’s important to note that Shana and her fellow church members didn’t stay in some ritzy hotel and visit with the country’s more fortunate residents, instead it was quite different. They stayed in a modest hotel with minimal accommodations and the areas they did their missionary work were in all respects, a deplorable slum.

“There were as many Kibera residents as in the city of Indianapolis living in a two-mile radius. You literally saw rows and rows of huts. There were no nearby hospitals, and in the event that some sort of altercation or criminal activity occurred; you could quite honestly die waiting for the police to show up. If the police did come, it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to be crooked cops who violated their authoritative positions.”

While Shana’s entire account of her voyage to Africa both saddened and hurt my heart; the fact that people living in such unfortunate conditions and so far removed from the American society yet still recognized that African-Americans are “lost” impacted me just as deeply.

“You’re lost and we want you back.”

Those seven simply stated words carry a magnitude of power, responsibility, and need for change.

When I initially heard what Kenyans generally thought of American Blacks, it made me reflect on a question that I’ve repeatedly asked myself over the years: are we (African-Americans) so caught up in trying to be successful in America that it’s costing us our African identity?

When I talk about abandoning our “African identity” I mean much more than not wearing Kente cloth garb and sporting natural hair. I mean are we abandoning our sense of self – our true sense of self and who we are, who our grandfather’s father was, and who our ancestors, forced to undergo unmentionable treatment while being held captive on slave ships, were.

Have American Blacks become so committed to achieving the American dream and that “pie in the sky” way of life that we’ve turned our backs on ourselves?

Let me know what you think by sending your comments to newsroom@indyrecorder.com. First responder comments are subject to appear in the Recorder.

It’s back to school time and all school districts have officially started their 2007-2008 calendar year.

It’s my sincere hope that parents become as involved and encouraging in their child’s academic life that they possibly can. Parents must be proactive in the educational success of their child…it’s truly the only way to ensure an increased level of accomplishment for each student.

IPS and the other districts that have instituted new dress codes are certainly off to the right start. Already I’ve heard from parents in townships like Perry and Washington who wish that their districts would adapt such policies.

Motivating children can be hard work, but studies prove its long-term effectiveness. While each student has an individual level of responsibility as it pertains to making the grade; ultimately the job rests on the shoulders of parents and of course, the teachers.

Even if you don’t have any children, lets all strive to become more attentive, concerned, and involved adults for today’s student.

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