UN Slavery Memorial Crucial In Modern Fight Against Racial Injustice
1 year ago
International community reaching out to next generation of leaders with monument
New York City teaching consultant Damond Haynes says many of today’s minority students are ashamed of slavery.
Not angry. Not sad. Not moved to petition governments for a redress of grievances.
They’re “embarrassed,” Haynes said in an interview with Loop 21.
“They don’t feel a connection to the ancestor like Jewish children do,” he said. “They want to forget.”
As a veteran instructor for the Schomburg Center’s Junior Scholars program, Haynes sees value in attempts to make the global legacy of slavery relatable to growing generations, whom he says struggle in public schools to connect the dots.
Last week, a United Nations committee continued its effort to bring a permanent memorial to the transatlantic slave trade. The committee held a concert in the General Assembly Hall to raise money and awareness.
The event, themed “Honoring the Heroes, Resisters and Survivors,” highlighted a coordinated effort by Caribbean and African nations to place the memorial in a prominent location on the UN’s New York complex. With thousands of school students visiting the U.N. every year, the committee hopes it will broaden the global understanding of slavery.
Haynes didn’t take his Schomburg students to the concert, but they did attend an event around an International Day of Remembrance in March.
He says selling the importance of the slavery is tough.
“Why are we studying this? We weren't slaves!” Haynes said of some students’ reaction to the topic.
“It’s not their fault. They express raw emotions, like 'White people sucked back then,'” Haynes said. “Very superficial. But if you (asked), adults and children would answer the same; no one really knows or cares to know.”
Recently, that sentiment has played out for an African American middle school student in Rochester, NY. Not among her peers, but among her adult educators.
In March, Jada Williams was harassed by her teachers for writing an essay on former slave Frederick Douglas and his life as an abolitionist. Williams’ teachers were not pleased with the conclusion she came to in her essay.
“Most white teachers that I have come into contact with, over the last several years of my life, has failed to instruct us even today,” Williams wrote.
[ALSO READ: Black Teen’s Essay Causes Outrage]