From over 35 years of working with Black boys and researching Black history I realize they have a certain "Sameness"--and yet each boy has certain unique and profound differences. To illustrate with the Picture Frame concept, imagine putting a frame around a picture of the 53 African countries containing 660 million Africans. When a given African country is compared with the others there are significant variations -- as in customs, language (there are 2000 or so languages spoken on the continent of Africa), and styles of worshipping God in serial religions (and even in the same region). Yet, there is essentially the same philosophy and core spiritual beliefs that constitute the frame of all African people.
Though there is "Fragmentation" related to customs among the 53 countries, the "Sameness" constituting the frame shows as all 660 people operating out of the common Group Spirit philosophical "seed" which originally gave rise to African Tradition. Although Africans who became Slaves were gathered from various parts of the continent of Africa, each with significant variations in customs, language, etc. , there was still a certain "Sameness" in philosophy, in religion (e.g. all believed in the one universal high God), and in ways of relating to each other. This "Sameness/Uniqueness" concept applies to struggling Black boys. Though there is much about them that is "the same," there is a unique feature within each boy that is very different from the boy next to him. That feature accounts for a given boy being "off the path" of thriving. For management, both the "Sameness" and the unique feature of each boy must be handled at the same time--the "Sameness" as a group and the unique feature individually. This is the background for answering the 2 questions.
There were two Maafa happenings (immeasurable catastrophes) that affected the mind of every free African brought to the Americas as Slaves--similar to, but greater than, the impact of the 9/11/01 two airplane attacks on the twin towers in New York. First was the Brain Switch (last year's talk) whereby the fishnet thrown over each free African caused that African to instantly switch from using his/her Thriving Brain to his/her Survival Brain. There was no time thereafter when the Slaves or their ex-Slave descendants were not in a survival situation and this mindset pattern has persisted in their struggling Black youth descendants. There was no time since slavery when Black people with the Brain Switch were allowed to go back to using their Thriving Brains. This Slave derived Emergency Brain is about the "here and now" and self-protection and this is what you see in struggling Black boys, whether in school or elsewhere. This way of thinking is reinforced by living in an environment where any given boy could get shot and killed while taking out the trash. This Brain Switch is fundamentally important to understand if there is any hope in changing struggling Black boys back to a Thriving Brain usage.
The second Maafa from the impact of slavery was Philosophical Disconnections. To elaborate, it is necessary to recall three building blocks of African Tradition. First is the Law of Sympathy that says all God's creatures and creations are spiritually related no matter how remote in time or space. Thus, of all the 37 billion people who lived on earth, each is related to each other and to whatever God created. Second, African Tradition is constructed like a skyscraper building. The base upon which the Tradition rests is God's Love (i.e. African type Love as distinguished from European type love). What arises out of that base is the underground foundation called Ma'at (Love in action). The above ground structure is the Power Approach of Nonaggression (having good relations with and behaviors toward fellow humans). Third is the beautifully laid out Cosmic Helping Hands.
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