Written by PATRICIA DABOH
Today, due to the impending Thanksgiving holiday in which our school week will end on Tuesday, I decided to show my 7th grade Technology students a movie. The movie, entitled Brother Future, is about a black teenager who does not take his education seriously. He daydreams in class when he should be listening to the teacher and taking in knowledge, he skips school whenever he feels like it, and he steals goods and resells it later to his ever-waiting customers. Well the teenager gets hit by a car and is propelled—not into the future—but back into the 1820s when slavery was in full swing. The purpose of my showing the movie was to help the students identify with the age of the character and his learning that education is a vital component of being successful and is directly connected to the quality of life one will have in the future.
During the film, my students' eyes were glued on the projection screen, which enlarged the movie to such a degree that it could be viewed from almost any angle in the classroom. My students began to ask me questions about what they were seeing in the movie. For instance, one student said, "Why can't he tell them he is not going to pick cotton in that field?" Another one said, "If I was back there, I would not do it!" Another asked, "Why does that slave have to go around to the back of his master's house and not use the front door?" The questions and comments went on throughout the movie, and I answered the questions and joined in the conversations that had sparked many interests about slavery and education, or a lack of Black education, during that time period.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, and I moved from the corporate world of business to teach—to make a difference. I am not a history teacher—although I do know history facts and can produce a decent answer when questioned. But what astonished me is that my Black students (for the majority of them are Black) did not know many facts at all about the history of our own people. Sure, some students could tell you that they were told that lynching and beatings and unfair treatment took place, but they seemed surprised about many things that were taking place in the movie. So I asked them, "Does your History teacher talk about slavery in your class?" Most of the students said, "No". "And if the teacher does, it is only just for a few minutes and we move onto something else."
I realized in that moment that many of Black America is ignorant about where they came from. Some of my students did not even know that Charleston, South Carolina, is documented as being the place where the first slaves were brought to when they landed in America.