‘Black to School’ Affirmation Gives Black Students a Tool for Coping in Classroom

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Patricia L. Nunley, Ed.D. (left) with Dr. Zethu Cakata from South Africa, Psychology Professor at University of South Africa. Photo courtesy of Patricia L. Nunley.

Autumn represents the time when the process of formalized knowledge acquisition resumes. Put simply, it is time to go “back to school”. Educational research has identified the time away from school as “summer fade” or a loss of knowledge acquired during the previous school year.

As you prepare to send your Black student back to school, we  would like to take this opportunity to share the formula to our successful functioning. It is simple yet impactful! We  recognize we are African and continually engage in the process of remembering  our African-ness.

Unlike the self-centered European concept of human development and functioning, as Africans, we have an extended-self that allows us to connect to others physically, spiritually, and metaphysically. The sense of security that knowledge provides for students, especially young children who are in the process of identity development, is well documented in human development literature but seldom shared with Black parents.

The ‘Black to School’ and Gift of Blackness Plan

Our children’s self-knowledge is a hidden key to their academic success. This year ,send your Black learners back to school equipped with the knowledge of knowing who they are.

Incorporating what I entitle “Five Foundation Facts about Blackness” into an affirmative sentence is a simple way to plant powerful seeds into young, fertile minds.  The sentence is “I am a Big Black Being who can Balance my Black Brilliance with my Black Beauty”.  This affirmation contains five African-centered realities: 1) Black Being; 2) Black Bigness; 3) Black Balance; 4) Black Brilliance; and 5) Black Beauty. Black Being references the African belief that we are not human beings but Spirit Beings living in a container called the human body.

For the young child, Black Being means having a Super Power against all evil (racist) forces that they may encounter in the classroom.  Black Bigness translates to their membership in a people group that can be found throughout the world.  Knowledge of this global presence makes a small child bigger than a small school that may try to make them feel insignificant or like a minority when in reality their non-white skin color puts them in the majority.

Black Balance is possible through daily incorporation of the Ancient African principles of MAAT (truth, justice, order, harmony, balance, reciprocity and righteousness).

An important task for young children is learning how to regulate their behavior.  Practicing these seven principles can and should start early with our beloved students.  A simple game is to have the student pretend their body is a scale that becomes out of balance when one of these principles is violated.

Black Brilliance is typically absent from school curriculums and presented only in sports and the performing arts. Buy students  books by and about Black people. Take them to  theater and events that tell real stories about other brilliant Black people.

Finally, Black Beauty is undeniable and continuously on display in a place we often forget to look. The place is the face of your Beloved Student who, according to science, and based on their African ancestry, reflects a version of the design for the original child.  Play the stare game with your student and as the two of you behold the Black Beauty you both possess, see who looks away first.  As you play, remind them, and yourself, that they are beholding an inside and outside African beauty that no ugly/negative words can ever really change.

Let your student know that being Black is not only being original, it is also being a Spirit-being, being balanced (MAAT), being big (Diasporic), being brilliant (Genius), and being beautiful (Inside and Outside).

Learn, speak and live this simple sentence, “I am a Big Black Being who can Balance my Black Brilliance with my Black Beauty.”

This year let us commit to putting these critical tools in their backpacks.

Dr. Patricia Nunley is the Western Regional Representative of the Bay Area Chapter of the ABPsi, and is on the faculty of the City College of San Francisco, Child Development Department

The Association of Black Psychologists, Bay Area Chapter (ABPsi-Bay Area) is committed to providing the Post Newspaper readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. The ABPsi-Bay Area is a healing resource. We can be contacted at ([email protected]) and readers are welcome to join with us at our monthly chapter meeting, every third Saturday at the West Oakland Youth Center from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                

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