LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The New York businessman won his third state victory in a row in the "first in the West" caucuses. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested – African Proverb

Up until seven years ago, I was very ignorant about my ethnic heritage. The only black history that was taught to me was during Black History Month. Even then, I only learned a part, not the whole. According to some of my grade and high school history textbooks, blacks were nothing more than savages whose only contributions to the world were farming and slaves.

Only when I went to college did I learn about the rich and interesting history that is my cultural birthright. Stories of women such as Ellen Craft, a slave who disguised herself as a white male while her husband pretended to be her servant in order to escape the chains of bondage. I was like a kid in a candy store. I had so much information and so little time to learn everything that was hidden from me. I immediately became angry. Angry at the school system that had bamboozled me and so many other generations of Black children. Angry at myself not seeking this knowledge sooner. But this anger was a good thing. I would never allow myself to be this ignorant again and I would make sure that my own children would know about their heritage, with or without the educational system’s help.

However, there are many in the African-American community who are unaware of their heritage, other than what is shown on television. There are some who actually believe that stereotypical nonsense about Africans swinging in trees like monkeys when the slave boats came and that is so disheartening. The most tragic consequence of this mentality is that many African-American children are growing up today complacently ignorant about their heritage, not caring about anything other the latest pair of Air Jordans and the new hot rap single.

According to African-American historian John Henrik Clarke, in order to control a people, you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when they feel ashamed of their culture and their history, prison chains are not necessary. This statement is a true assessment of what is going on in the black community. Many generations of African-Americans have been poisoned with self-hatred as a result years of slave mentality programming. Some of us have forgotten about the blood, sweat, and tears of Africans who were brought to this country against their will and whose blood still runs deeply in our veins.

That is why it is so important to know one’s heritage. We have to break the cycle of complacent ignorance when it comes to our ethnic past. We know that the school system is not going to teach our children anything other than prepping for standardized state tests. We cannot let another generation of African-American children suffer from cultural degradation. In our veins, flow the blood of kings and queens who fought and died for their beliefs and who would be saddened by the state of their descendants who have forgotten where they come from.

Source by Kathy Henry