By Wandia Njoya via FB
I’m sympathetic to the idea of paying attention to American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS).
It’s linked to a trend that I’ve started to notice in my classes.
The students who perform the best in my classes are children of teachers. They they have the intellectual discipline, and are outstanding in expressing their opinions.
What this indicates is that education in schools is becoming increasingly classist. To understand what I mean, you have to understand that a child’s access to cultures outside the school stands a better chance of doing well in school.
What has happened in Kenya is that the spaces for knowledge creation outside the school are shrinking. There are no libraries – especially libraries – where people can advance their knowledge without needing the school. Arts centers and museums are barely there, and the government has been clearly against them.
This creates a situation where kids who are not in already educated families do not have access to knowledge creation. Kids of teachers have an added advantage because they access the school at home, and they see from their parents the culture of Western elitst intellectual discipline. We now have teaching families where the spouses and kids of the same family are teachers. Or even lecturers in the same institution. This isn’t about passion. It’s about lack of opportunities.
Now to the US.
The Democratic party has now nominated as its vice-presidential candidate a black woman who is a daughter of two PhD holders. The first black president was the son of a Harvard graduate. I can even add the first African recipient of an Oscar is a third generation elite.
From my classroom experience, I feel that such profiles are not a coincidence. Given the quite elitist orientation of Anglo-American education, blacks from such families are more likely to fit into the American mainstream, locking out th ADOS. Both Harris and Obama took ambiguous positions of incarceration and were close to the banks. Of course, we can argue that Condoleeza Rice (herself a daughter of elites, classically trained musician) or Clarence Thomas are no different. But if all the Democrats needed was a black person, why not go for Michelle Obama, a descendant of slaves, whose name was previously floated as a serious contender for the White House?
And this isn’t just about America, when you think of it. It’s a problem for us in Africa as well. These elites are all the same class, in both US and Africa, as we see from the Nyong’os. So the US is basically constructing a global black elite, who are going to be the obstacle to overhauling the system, whether in the US or in Africa.
The struggle is going to be long people. Very long.