I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “Knowledge is power,” but I do remember wholeheartedly believing it. When I was no older than five years of age, I remember my two older sisters coming home from school chanting, “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Their cheerful mnemonic devices settled into my young, susceptible brain, and at the time I was a willing host.
The only stable aspect of my childhood was instability. The acquisition of knowledge was my earliest survival mechanism. I desperately needed to be grounded in something, anything to make it out of childhood alive. I chose to learn to forget. From a young age, knowledge colonized my mind and embedded itself deep into the core of my being.
When my Southern education taught me that the enslavement of my ancestors was both natural and necessary, I believed it. When Black History Month taught me that the fight for our rights ended with the ratification of the 24th amendment, I believed it. I was one of the first ones in class to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance, “…One nation, under God, indivisible, and liberty and justice for all.” I felt each one of those words in my chest as my heart pumped red, White, and blue for America every morning. When my music teacher forced the words of the American National Anthem down my throat, I regurgitated each verse as if the words were my own, “Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
This research project examines the Black child’s educational and cultural experience mediated through the lens of America’s “imperialist White supremacist capitalist patriarchy” ideology as defined by cultural critic bell hooks (hooks 2013). Through auto ethnography and selected case studies reported in the media, I will discuss the role of acts of resistance as a means of survival for young, Black Americans. Questions of interest are: (1) Why must we resist? (2) Why must we reimagine? (3) What role does (re)imagination play in the movement for Black lives?