Imhotep! Welcome to B.L.A.C.K.

B.L.A.C.K. is an Afrocentric homeschooling community dedicated to increasing black awareness, cultural expression, and self pride in the homeschooling community. We offer classes in African American history, art, and literature for homeschoolers in the Washington, D.C. area based on the African Centered Educational model. We facilitate hands-on training by nationally recognized education specialists and disseminate information via the B.L.A.C.K. blog on how to infuse African culture and history in the traditional American education. Our mission is to increase awareness of the African Centered Educational model and to share the positive results we are witnessing in B.L.A.C.K. students who are reconnecting with the truth, beauty, and grace of the African heritage and culture.

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The Two Cradle Theory: Afrocentric Meets Eurocentric Head On

On Sunday, April 27,  twelve high school students in the Black Literary Awareness for Cultural Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) homeschooling network will celebrate their academic achievements as graduates of the organization's first Afrocentric history class, Introduction to Ancient African History.  The end of year celebration will culminate in a student-led panel discussion, "Across Many Waters: Building Bridges to Africa".  Their extraordinary accomplishments unwittingly transcend the academic arena on many levels.

Although they are from diverse family, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds, the Ancient Africa class share three common factors: All are teenagers striving to find their place in a complex, rapidly-changing world; all are children of the African Diaspora; and all represent a sub-culture of their communities as homeschoolers.  Their class may very well be the first of its kind in Maryland homeschooling circles in that it paired inner-city lifeschoolers steeped in African history and culture with their suburban peers who, conversely, had tenuous or no connections to their African heritage.  The results were impressive.

In just a relatively short time, the students' participation in academically-challenging, integrated, holistic activities, designed to reconnect them to Africa, to their Black history and culture, and to each other, enabled them to discover their common heritage, cultural connections, and shared values.  In the process, they excelled to exceptionally high academic standards, gained strong self-identity and racial pride, and found a means to form lasting, cooperative friendships, despite their religious and other differences.

The Ancient Africa history class was an experiment in African Centered Education (ACE), developed and taught solely by three suburban African American parent educators, whose previous training consisted primarily in traditional, western-oriented Classical Educational theory.  Drawing on both the Afrocentric and Classical learning models, B.L.A.C.K. tutors were able to immerse the students in engaging, multi-sensory, experiential,  learning activities, which placed their African heritage and culture at the center of the learning process and presented a more balanced world view of African and African American contributions to world history.

The Mwalimu or "Instructor" leads B.L.A.C.K. students in an experiential, multi-sensory, dramatization of the Middle Passage (Maafa) to instill a lasting memory of the atrocities their African ancestors endured and, more importantly, their bravery and fortitude. Surprisingly, B.L.A.C.K. students had difficulty "centering" themselves during the exercise, indicative of the "generational gap" created by the "milquetoast, false, and misleading" treatment of the middle passage in most social studies text books. The Mwalimu's painted white face was designed to demonstrate to the students how alien the foreign captors must have appeared to the disoriented, enslaved Africans. Again, the Mwalimi were surprised that one student perceived the painted face as "reverse racism", leading to further discourse in the Kemetic Circle in order to vet the real purpose and object lesson of the painted face.  

Although, at face value, Classical and Afrocentric models seemingly are diametrically opposed, B.L.A.C.K. tutors were able to find common ground to teach both African traditions and culture, while fostering critical thinking, rhetorical, and logic skills, which the Classical model is heralded for developing.  In fact, it was discovered that the philosophy of Classical Education, known as the "Trivium," is an African pedagogy rooted in Ancient Kemet (Egypt) and the Dogan people of Mali, West Africa. While the Trivium identifies the three developmental learning phases as "grammar, didactic and, and rhetorical," the Dogan people use four words to describe them:  (Rivers, 2004)

"Giri So - Front Word:  instruction and mastery of concrete operations, repetition and  drill, rote  memorization through experiential, multi-sensory activities
 Benne So - Side Word:  recognition of patterns, relationships and their associations
 Bolo So - Back Word:  abstract thinking, utilization of knowledge
 Sodayi - Clear Word:  understanding knowledge; actions and thinking are intrinsic

B.L.A.C.K. tutors attribute the high academic, social, and personal success of their first Afrocentric homeschooling class to their unique set of lesson plans, which they developed specifically for the Ancient Africa class, to infuse and bring balance to the Afrocentric and Classical models. The closest approximation to the B.L.A.C.K. learning module is what the brilliant Senegalese historian and scientist, Dr. Cheik Diop, called the "Two Cradle Theory", one cradle being the Southern (African) cradle and the other being the Northern (European) cradle.

The combination of all of the above, coupled with a philosophical educational framework based on four theoretical perspectives, has produced B.L.A.C.K. curricula which work for all students.  The theoretical perspectives include: 1) cultural relevance; 2) Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP); 3) Medew Nefer (the ancestral inter-generational transmission of the knowledge and memory that defines a people through "good speech" (lectures) and "good listening" (note taking), leading to "wisdom" or application of knowledge (sound living); and 4) the tradition of the African Circle of discourse, which B.L.A.C.K. tutors describe as "Kemetic Circles." (Rivers 2004; Curruthers 1999)

The African or "Kemetic Circle" is an important tool for discourse (logos) to develop critical thinking and rhetorical skills as students discuss and ponder culturally relevant contemporary and historical topics. The circle is an ancient African tradition that influenced "Socratic Circles" in ancient Greece.
The academic, social, and personal growth witnessed in all of the B.L.A.C.K. students enrolled in the Ancient Africa Class resulting from their limited exposure to ACE has inspired B.L.A.C.K. Co-founder, Kyna Clemons, to broaden the B.L.A.C.K. vision in support of the African Centered Educational Model, which she no longer views as optional, but essential to the survival of Afrikan people, their culture, and traditions. (the “k” in Afrikan representing people of the African Diaspora collectively across the globe, rather than only on the continent).

B.L.A.C.K. is networking with Sankofa Homeschooling Village and other like-minded Afrocentric homeschooling communities to develop a complete Sebayet (African curriculum) for homeschoolers, which follows an African centered paradigm recommended by esteemed ancestor, Dr. Jacob H Carruthers. (hereafter referred to as The Children of the Sun Homeschooling Curriculum), which will be based on the following course of study:

medew netcher (theology), medew nefer grammar (Logic), maat (governance),
hepu nefer (ethics) soneb (health), hesebu (mathematics), sesh (writing) and genut (history)." (Curruthers 1999)

If these areas sound familiar to you Classical Educators, it is because the Greeks and the western world adapted these concepts from Ancient Africa!

With minimal study, a pure heart, and an open mind, it should be crystal clear to all "educators", with whom we have entrusted the impressionable minds of our precious children, that ACE is a logical answer to the current, dismal plight of underachievement in Black students and to the economic and social stagnation persistent in the global Black Community.  The ultimate goal of ACE is not to produce another generation of Black students who gauge their success solely by how closely they approximate the western, capitalistic, "good way" of life; Rather, it is to raise up a generation of God-fearing, culturally-astute, young people who can walk in "good speech" (i.e. Medu Nefer/"wisdom") with self-determination and a demonstrated ability to use their God-given gifts, talents, and knowledge to effectuate profound and lasting change in the Black community.

The Ancient Africa class enjoys a panoramic view of the Nation's Capital on one of their monthly Metro Journeys, developed by veteran B.L.A.C.K. tutor, Anna Fogg.  The Metro Journey undoubtedly is a  favorite class activity of B.L.A.C.K. students 

As B.L.A.C.K students prepare to celebrate their academic achievements the end of this month, they have every reason to boast!  In the words of B.L.A.C.K. tutor, Tammy Richards, "From the very beginning, we could only imagine a small part of what has now transformed into something unique, tangible, and undeniable inspiring." Imagine our pride, as Mwalimi, when one of the students shared the following story:  "Several of us girls from the Ancient Africa class were fellow-shipping and enjoying a meal together on the roof top of our classmate's luxurious apartment complex.  After several moments of stimulating, thought-provoking discourse with one another on a range of topics, an older British man could not resist the urge to interrupt us to offer praise for our camaraderie, maturity, and "good speech".  He went on to express his sentiments of how "amazing" us girls are." Obviously, other people see "good speech" in our B.L.A.C.K. students.  Can you?  Will you?

B.L.A.C.K End of Year Program and Panel Discussion



Date:   Sunday, April 27, 2014
Time:   3:00-5:00 P.M.
Location:  Fil-American Multicultural Center
7500 Livingston Road
Oxon Hill, MD

B.L.A.C.K. students will lead and run the panel discussion.  Our Guest Panelists will include brothers and sisters from all regions of the African Continent. African-Americans and local Pan-African Historians with intimate knowledge of African culture and heritage will also be represented!


Playing During "School" Time

Perhaps it wasn't a bad idea after all to let my five year old son, Gyasi, spend his early homeschooling years building intricate robots from paper boxes, designing web pages, producing comical movies about his six sisters, or digging up rocks, bugs and other organic matter in our backyard.  Twelve years later, Gyasi, now seventeen and soon to graduate, will use the skills he acquired during those "unschooling" years to compete next weekend in a national robotics competition.

As a working, life-schooling mom of seven,  I just didn't seem to have enough time in the day to instruct Gyasi in a lot of formal lessons.  At a young age, he was determined to become a famous physicist, although this has since changed to computer scientist.

 In those early years, I worried less about getting enough "schooling" in and afforded my children opportunities to do what they love---exploring, building, designing, and creating.

After a few hours of "table time" lessons in math, grammar, and writing, we spent our afternoons in what we called, "productive leisure time", when the children were able to "play" engineer, doctor, banker, social worker, seamstress and more.  Today, my youngest spends her productive leisure time playing Minecraft, the popular, technologically-advanced video game used by educators across the nation to teach science, history, and language.

I am content that several of my "unschooled" children are not only honor roll students in college, but have a life-long love for learning, know how to live and not just make a living, and more importantly, use their God-given gifts and talents to enrich the lives of other people.  I would not trade my precious memories of our productive leisure time together in the backyard for the highest SAT scores, scholarships, or salaries in the world! Now that several of my children have left the nest, I cherish those memories even more and am often saddened that the time went by too fast.

On April  3-5, Gyasi, and his childhood buddy, Tumie Hurd, also a lifeschooler, will compete with their Robotics Team in the Chesapeake Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) at the University of Maryland, College Park.  Their team is an activity of the Patriots' National Society of Black Engineers Junior Chapter. Patriots is a local organization that has operated minority STEM summer camps and other programs for over 17 years.

 The FRC is the Nation's top engineering challenge for STEM students.  The students work with mentors and instructors several weeks leading up to the competition to design, build, and program a robot they hope will win the competition.  It is an outstanding program that allows students to use their engineering and computer programming skills in practical applications. While Gyasi and Tumie acknowledge building the robot for the competition is hard work, the prospects of their robot winning keep them motivated.

Next week's competition, expected to attract a crowd of over 20,000, promises to be fun for the whole family. It is really quite mesmerizing to see the student-built robots strutting their stuff like hyperactive, colorful peacocks in the competitor ring before the large crowds and judges.  The robotic teams operate the computers remotely from a distance, holding their breaths and hoping it will perform as programmed.

If your lifeschooler likes to spend his productive leisure time building, designing, constructing or playing computer games, he will definitely enjoy the FRC Robotics Competition. And you need not feel guilty about letting him "play" Minecraft or other video games during "school" time; He might just use his gaming skills to develop an award-winning computer application later in life.

Do you ever feel like you are not getting enough "school" time in with your little ones?  Are you concerned that you aren't doing enough to prepare them for standardized tests?  I'd love to hear your comments.

Virtual Art Gallery by Ancient Africa Class

Lady Kauit Takes a Drink by Nadia Fogg

Thousands of years ago, a “creative explosion event”, described by researchers as a sudden blossoming of early man's symbolic thought--the ability to identify, create, and represent things--occurred in Africa long before it occurred in other parts of the world.  Evidence of early man's advanced human behavior and symbolic thought is abundant in Africa to include fishing, the manufacture of bone tools, the use of decoration, and the production of art. The Ancient Africa Classes' Virtual Art Gallery represents their artistic creative expressions at depicting these archaeological findings from prehistoric Africa.

We hope you enjoy the Virtual Art Gallery as much as the B.L.A.C.K. students enjoyed creating it.  For optimal viewing, it is recommended that you take your virtual tour on a PC, where you can enjoy the CoolIris 3D technology; However, you  may still view it on your IPAD and other platforms!

Click here to view the Virtual Art Gallery

Creative Explosion

The Dangers of a Distorted Perspective

Webster's virtual dictionary defines perspective as a) the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; b) the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance; and c) the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions.  Inherent in each is the notion that perspective involves a mental process on a psychic plane, which lends itself to how something or someone is seen or viewed by the optical eye and processed in relationship to a location or psychological time and space.

For the child of color, a proper perspective is important when studying history because he must be able to see himself, and his ancestors before him, in true proximity to world events and as active, significant participants on the stages of world history. On a subliminal level, such a view sends a strong signal to his sub-consciousness that he is important, which in turn aids in the development of his self esteem and racial pride. 

It is for this reason that B.L.A.C.K. history classes begin with a study of ancient Africa, a time when people of color were important builders of world civilizations, rather than with the Maafa (African Holocaust). B.L.A.C.K. students are taught to stretch their minds beyond the traditional Eurocentric perspective in the typical textbook and to view history with the lenses of their African and African-American ancestors.  Like the archeologist who tirelessly wields his rusty spade below the earth's cold, hardened surface for months and even years before unearthing his greatest treasure,  students are encouraged to use their classically-learned research and analytical skills to dig deeper and  uncover the hidden truths about Black history.

"His-story vs. Our-story" is a popular cliche among Pan-African revisionist historians.  While there is a lot of truth in this, children of color, like their Europeon counterparts, need to know the "whole-story".  Everyone is taught, for example, about the Austrian born, musical genius, Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus, who is said to have composed his first symphony at the age of 5.  But few children learn about  the BLACK Mozart,  Chevalier de Saint-George, who  was the first black man to lead France’s most important orchestras.

The life story of Chevalier  de Saint-George's is a fascinating drama of love, mystic, courage, and success, which all children, particularly those with an interest and talent in music, would be excited to learn about. Born to a Senegalese slave and a French colonialist in the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Chevalier de Saint-George moved to France with his parents at the age of 8.  In France, he was raised as nobility and excelled as a composer, swimmer and swordsman.  He ranks among the first French composers of string quartets, symphonies concertantes, and quartets concertantes, and is said to have once given Mozart a job.

When studying history, it is important to encourage children of color to look at historical developments and the people and places in antiquity from a proper perspective, one which enables them to view world developments in their true relations and relative importance as it pertains to them as descendants of the African diaspora.  In the words of ancestor, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, the distinguished Pan-African historian:
"History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must become."
But if the child of color is only viewing history from a Eurocentric perspective, then his vision is skewed and distorted, and he will lack capacity to use his historical map and compass toward a path of social justice and economic liberation for his people.

Culture at Home

Culture at Home is an African-American homeschool support group in the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, which is partnering with the Black Literary Awareness for Cultural Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) homeschooling network to combine efforts in providing educational outreach support programs and supplemental homeschooling classes to African American homeschooling families in the area.  Pier Penic, who, in the words of Black author, Virginia Hamilton, is a modern day African American leader who can fly", is founder and director of Culture at Home.  Culture at Home offers an array of dynamic homeschooling classes throughout the Metro area including, "Rising Words, Rising Images", a monthly teen book discussion group; World Literature for High Schoolers; Culture at Home Research Project; and two Advanced Creative Writing Courses on Shakespearean Literature and Comparative African Literature and Culture, which meet at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Smithsonian Museum, respectively.  A monthly children's internet book club for ages 6-18 is also offered, in addition to creative writing workshops, college fairs, seminars and tutorial information through out the year. For a detailed listing of all Culture at Home classes currently available, please click here.