As a young African American child growing up in schools in the deep south, the only people I saw who looked like me, were pictures of African Americans brought in by African American teachers as extra-curricular activities. . . none were in my textbooks and none were children. My love for music made me cling to Marian Anderson like glue. Conversely, black people were labeled as slaves, people who owned nothing, did nothing and were nothing. How is that for self-esteem? Fortunately, my parents owned something…the land we planted crops on; the black community owned the church, schools and land they sat on, and my parents instilled in us that no one was better or less than we were, but still…it was debilitating to learn at nine years old that the country I lived in, did not share their viewpoint. In spite of it, I was one of the lucky ones. What about the kids whose parents owned nothing and did not teach them about self-worth and self-esteem?
A BEST SELLING STORY
Take a look at “Dream Big, Little One” by best-selling Author Vashti Harrison. It is one of many books that help youth with self-identification, self-esteem, encouragement and self-direction. The premise is “The world is big and you have many choices available to you…think big, dream large, and plot out a course of action that makes your dreams become reality.” It suggests, as this article, that every child, black or white, matters. Even though the dominant culture re-wrote history to diminish African Americans’ worth and contributions, we come from a lineage that makes us proud to be who we are…and each child can be also.