Monday, August 29, 2011
A Funny Thing Happened at Berkeley High's All Class Reunion Gathering
Berkeley High's Reunion
This past Saturday, Berkeley High held an all-class reunion at San Pablo Park. Ironically, although Berkeley High has been known as an integrated school, this all class reunion was 99% North American African. I had the pleasure of the 1%, a drunk white man who somehow found me among the two thousand North American Africans and decided to sit at my feet. And then proceeded to light a cigarette. I asked him to kindly get out of my Motherfuckin' face, which his girlfriend persuaded him to do, after all, it was clear they had wondered into the park, not knowing it was a Black gathering.
FYI, the gathering was a great gathering of Berkeley Black Unity, without incident and totally peaceful, with blues music and vendors selling food and Black Art. Old school mates embraced and enjoyed the sunny day.
Briefly, I stood talking with Dr. Robert McKnight, Chair of African American Studies at Berkeley High. He requested his remarks remain off the record, but I will say Black Studies at Berkeley High is in crisis and the District is doing everything it can to eliminate it, although it is perhaps the first high school Black Studies Department in America. Dr. McKnight gave out his business card that said the following on the back:
We Ain't Going Out Like That
Join the Struggle
"Keep the Legacy Alive"
African American Literature
African American Psychology
African American Journalism
Psycho/sociology of Black Male/female relations
Gospel Choir/Black Student Union
African American Economics
African American History
The reality is that Black Studies is under attack across America. It is part of the general attack on Black people, although we think Black Studies is suffering because it has become disconnected from community, thus ignoring its mission to serve the community. Of course, in crisis it returns to community for support to "keep the legacy alive."
We know the radical black scholars were long ago removed from most black studies programs, especially in higher education. The tenured Negroes were brought it and have remained to this day with a Miller Lite version of Black Studies, if not a totally escapist version that stresses Pan Africanism above local or the national needs of North American Africans. After all, the radicals were removed because they focused on local and national needs, putting Black Studies in harmony with community, not white academia that never desired black inclusion or black educational upliftment. Would this not mean the liberation of community or nation time?
We hope Mr. McKnight can save black studies at Berkeley High, although he admitted he is tired, exhausted from fighting the administration at every turn. He may get the community support needed if his program can indeed relate to the critical needs facing our people at this hour.