By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
The Black community is facing a crisis, and it is not a new one, but one which we have silently condoned, and which does not augur well for our collective future.
I quote here a statement made by a Caucasian male, “The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book.”
We live now in the Information Age. Blacks have gained the opportunity to read any book, on any subject, through the efforts of their fight for freedom, yet they refuse to read. www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-want-hide-something-from-blackput-book-sa-treasury-rachel-lakhi/.
Over the years, we have all taken umbrage at such a statement, which only fault (if one may say so) lies in the pigmentation of the reporter.
During a recent conversation with a parent, my conscious psyche was jolted, when she unhesitatingly said, “everybody don’t like to read”. As I slowly came to, I realized that she had uttered the five worst words that can emanate from the mouth of any black parent—words that gave veracity to the previously-held adage.
Plainly put and factually stated, it is the difference between equipping a child to fail or succeed, and to understanding the difference between just having fun or to be seriously committed to a goal.
There are things that people dislike doing; but reading? This is where the pedal touches the metal. Not liking to read and needing to read are two distinct realities. To be competitive in our current society, a child must indeed be literate, and must be well-read.
Yes, believe it or not, we are facing a reading crisis among our young, especially young boys, a situation to which everyone should be paying attention, but sadly, not everyone is.
We labour under the misapprehension that the reading crisis is a situation that falls under the aegis of the educational system, despite the fact that we have frequent indications that school administrators and teachers are not as devoted to remedying the problem of literacy as we may believe. In far too many instances the answer lies in the transferring kids to special education and other remedial courses.
Let us face the facts and get straight to the root of the truth — the reading crisis is not one that is going to be fixed by the education institution; it must be tackled by our homes and communities. www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/meRead_andHow.pdf
We must understand there is a crisis, a fairly complex one if I daresay so, as it deals with a certain level of consciousness, about how our young, especially the males, feel and believe what is possible for them.
The way our young males shape their identities is closely linked to their ability to read. The irony lies in the fact that reading develops consciousness, so if they fail at reading, our Black boys, essentially, mature in an intellectual vacuum.
Until we promote and establish a reading consciousness among our young, we will not overturn the reading crisis and impact reading proficiency rates. readingpartnership.com/about-us.html
Success can be further guaranteed when we eradicate excuses and make books the new norm in our homes, churches and communities. Better yet, avoid the Internet, for he who reads, leads. Make the library a place to be. If on books you oftentimes feed, a raised reading level is guaranteed.
The home that is a bulwark of education, literacy and attainment, especially the homes in which there are young black boys, is the one devoid of video games, DVD movies, and instead, is replete with a variety of books.
At a very early age, kids should be introduced to books in the home, and their maintenance guaranteed.
On an advisory note, it is imperative that every moment of the day spent outside of the education grouping, there should be a book which intersects the lives of our boys: a book in the backpack; a book at the dinner table; a book in the bedroom, a book in the car, a book in the sitting room.
Together, we can solve the reading crisis.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.