Since my son’s been in pre-school, Social Studies, I’ve learned, has nothing to do with time. I guess I sorta understand why given that young children, even when they can tell time, don’t appear to understand it. In my son’s case, I usually say that he speaks of time in biblical terms. Thus, he might say something like, “I want it to be my birthday for 40, 50 hundred minutes.” When children begin to glimpse time through the sun and the moon, summer can be hell because when you try to keep them on a consistent 8:00 bedtime schedule, they recognize that it’s still light outside…but back to Social Studies. For three years, Social Studies has meant lessons about community, culture, transportation, the Post-Office and other very rudimentary things about how a very generic society functions. So now that he’s in first grade, I was very curious about the Thanksgiving lesson he’d receive. When I was in school, the lesson involved Pilgrims, Native Americans, maze, and a feast. Here’s what my son says he learned:
The Pilgrims came over. They enslaved some people who taught them how to survive. The slaves taught the Pilgrims
to fish. They buried the fish in the ground and that produced the food they ate. The end.
Miles’s story had little bits of American history that I can get with. Some Europeans came to a place, committed violence through enslavement, and used the knowledge of those they enslaved to sustain themselves. I have no idea how the dead fish produced food, but he told me he couldn’t explain it, that’s just what he’d “thought [he] heard the teacher say.” I don’t know what those other kids learned but it sounds like Miles took a little bit of what he learned from his teacher–Thanksgiving and Pilgrims–sprinkled in with the stories I read to him that feature slaveholders and enslaved people, and rounded the story up with a little bit of the bible (that’s the only sense I can make of the fish).
Miles’s version works for me–especially in the aftermath of Darren Wilson’s free pass for killing a black unarmed child. When I saw this photograph
of a white police officer in Ferguson hugging this crying black child, I became sick to my stomach. Sentimentality is no substitute for justice. Next week, we’ll be reading about the same boy in this photograph being put into a chokehold by a police officer unfamiliar with the knowledge that black children were no longer demons for the men and women who take an oath to serve our communities. Thus, I like my son’s narrative because it paints a picture of the America that Malcolm X saw; one where these sentimental photographs of police officers hugging black people as the same BS that it is. It’s been almost fifty years since Malcolm was with us but his words reverberated in my ears over this Thanksgiving holiday. He spoke pure truth when he said, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, the rock was landed on us.”
…I can get wit’ it
8 thoughts on “Models Monday: I Can Get Wit’ It”
Yes, I am serious about that. I am trying to relearn many things. I am learning what a racist and rapist Columbus was. That’s why I mentioned interest in the James Loewen book. I am reading and learning many things. Better late than never.
I know that’s right: better late than never. EMM
Yes, Brother Malcolm’s words were very true.
Typos: It’s true that young Davonte Hunt could be profiled and God forbid brutally harmed in this police culture that kills young black men and women in black bodies without being punished.
I knew what you meant 🙂
We’re much more forgiving about typos in cyberspace.
Take Good Care, EMM
I can get with your son’s version of the “First Thanksgiving” also. I am late to the party and just learning that that cute little story about pilgrims and Indians that was taught to me so many years ago was not true. Thanks to blogger Abagond. Now i have to go buy a book called “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen. I was kind of moved by the photograph of the young black boy Davonte Hunt and the police Sargent. I thought in all the chaos and confusion maybe it was one of the more touching narratives in the Ferguson turmoil. I get what you are saying too. It’s true that young Davonte could be profiled and God forbid brutally harmed in this police culture that kills young black men and women in black bodies in black bodies. Great post as always.
Thanks so much for your kind words. Are you serious about only recently learning about that Pilgrim story? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because that is THE prevailing narrative. So far, Miles’s teachers have not even mentioned Christopher Columbus; that should be interesting. EMM