Best Foot Forward
Just in case you haven’t noticed some of my recent posts, the NCORE Review Committee has once again accepted ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free’ for presentation at the 26th Annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education®.
NCORE® 2013 will be held May 28 through June 1, 2013, in Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Two Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. My presentation is on Saturday, June 1st.
I know many people are unfamiliar with the direction and importance of this conference. Here is a short paragraph from the NCORE® website outlining the scope and purpose of the organization and conference:
The NCORE® conference series constitutes the leading and most comprehensive national forum on issues of race and ethnicity in American higher education. The conference focuses on the complex task of creating and sustaining comprehensive institutional change designed to improve racial and ethnic relations on campus and to expand opportunities for educational access and success by culturally diverse, traditionally underrepresented populations. (http://www.ncore.ou.edu/about_ncore.html)
So, in a nutshell, the attendees of these conferences are experienced educators (Master’s/PHD’s) looking for ways to solve the “problem” of poor academic achievement. They go on to further break things down into what I see as the continuation of poorly defined “racial” categories. As in “helping the Black kids, helping the Brown kids, etc.”
There is no differentiation or categorization in my message. As I tell the kids when I speak at any of the continuation or second chance schools – schools designed to help kids who aren’t succeeding in regular schools – look around the room, you are all here for the same reason, despite what you think your race or ethnicity is! Therefore, whatever you think about your race or ethnicity CANNOT be the cause of where you are now. Besides, there are people who look just like you, who came from the same circumstances or worse, who aren’t here with you now! What’s the difference? Why are they where they are and you are here? (Shortly after this, I also tell the kids, let’s talk more about the real world and less about the world that is presented to you through mass media, I can help you solve your problem. That’s when most start listening and asking questions!)
2013 will be my third and probably last appearance at this conference. (San Diego 2009, San Francisco 2011.) Both of the previous presentations were 3 hours long, well attended and I made many important contacts, gathered lots of information to research and discuss.
This will be the last presentation simply because I think there are more people and institutions more focused on having an NCORE conference next year, rather than focused on actually solving the problem.
(At this point I want to add that although my presentation is primarily focused on why trying to solve any problems based on continuing to use incorrect and poorly defined categories established by people who created them to dominate other people hasn’t worked. I actually respect the members of the selection committee(s) for reviewing and approving my participation at this conference three times! When the attendees find out what my topic is many are amazed that I’m allowed to make a presentation at all! But, after hearing the whole presentation, many of those same people have written or expressing approval of the direction of the project. (Actual follow up and bringing the presentation to their campus or organization has been another thing entirely. But I know the reasons behind that!) Over the past 10 years there have been many groups/organizations who will not even review or research my submissions.)
This year’s presentation is only 2 hours long, with a significant portion dedicated towards highlighting the work of Mr. Joel Augustus Rogers. My focus is specifically his book; ‘Nature Knows No Color Line: Research into the Negro Ancestry in the White Race’ (New York: J. A. Rogers, 1952). (Outdated title, I know.)
In my opinion, this book is quite simply THE one book that I think EVERYONE who wants to be more knowledgeable about human history in Africa, Europe, and the United States of America should read. If one of your goals or tasks is to teach other people about human history in Africa, Europe, etc.; then I think discussion of this book should be included in primary and secondary schools everywhere!
Documentation of information is what makes this book a must read! On every page, starting with the photo on the cover, J.A. Rogers tells you where he found the information! If you don’t “think” or “feel” it is accurate, YOU can do more research for yourself! It helps provide a starting point so YOU can add to whatever education YOU feel YOU didn’t get from the other man!
(There is already a J. A. Rogers Elementary school in Kansas City! http://www.kcpublicschools.org/Domain/32)
I am writing today because I have already sent messages to selected book clubs, groups, and people whose opinions I can respect, around the country, to think about starting the process of including this book in any upcoming discussions. I have even offered to fly anywhere and help moderate/lead the discussions. I am now expanding the suggestions to friends (and frienemies) everywhere.
I know everyone likes to talk about all sorts of unconnected topics, but for this exercise, the discussion will be limited to talking about J. A. Rogers, his research and how he went about his work, and the information contained in this book!
This book is hard to find. It is usually out of stock. I was able to purchase a copy at:
EYERIE CULTURE SHOP
6695 Downey Ave
Long Beach, CA
562-408-1000 (Ask for Z)
It is important to me that you do your own research, but here are a few paragraphs about J. A. Rogers. You can read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Augustus_Rogers
Joel Augustus Rogers (September 6, 1883 – March 26, 1966) was a Jamaican-American author, journalist, and historian who contributed to the history of Africa and the African Diaspora, especially the history of African Americans in the United States. His research spanned the academic fields of history, sociology and anthropology. He challenged prevailing ideas about race, demonstrated the connections between civilizations, and traced African achievements. He was one of the greatest popularizers of African history in the 20th century.
Rogers was a meticulous researcher, astute scholar and concise writer. He traveled tirelessly on his quest for knowledge, which often took him directly to the source. While traveling in Europe, he frequented libraries, museums, and castles, finding sources that helped him prove African ancestry and history. He challenged the biased viewpoint of Eurocentric historians and anthropologists.
Rogers articulated ideas about race that were informed by anthropology and biology, rather than social convention. He used vindicationism not as end in itself, but as a tool to underscore his humanist beliefs, and to illustrate the unity of humanity as a people. He discarded the non-scientific definition of race and pursued his own ideas about humanity’s interconnectedness. Thus, although the work of Rogers has often been relegated to the controversial genre of Afrocentric history, his main contribution to African scholarship was his nuanced analysis of the concept of race.
Rogers was a member of professional associations such as the Paris Society of Anthropology, the American Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Academy of Political Science.
You can start reading reviews of ‘Nature Knows No Color Lines’ on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Knows-No-Color-Line-Research/product-reviews/0960229450/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
If you are an educator, community organizer, or just interested in discussing this book, by all means contact me. (After reading the book and doing your own research!) If not, I completely understand. It is hard to step away from the group and do something different.
In my opinion, if this book is not considered for inclusion/discussion by more schools, etc., “we” simply aren’t putting our best foot forward towards solving any problems and “we” will be talking about this stuff for another 500 years!
Michael James Brown
Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!