This I Believe Essay On Racism In Education

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I believe that education is the key to ending violence—here in Philadelphia, in the United States, and around the world. Education will also be the key to ending poverty. Without education, you cannot develop individual wealth or community wealth.

What led me to these conclusions is that so many of my friends, people that I grew up with and went to school with, are either dead, on drugs, or in prison, though many others are doing well. We all get together now and then to talk about how we could have been a greater group of people if our education had been more well-rounded. Educated citizens can make better choices for themselves, and education can help one to reason without so many emotions tied to their decisions.

Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past . . . is like a tree without roots.” And when I was growing up in the Philadelphia public school system, we didn’t learn anything about my African ancestors. For African American students in particular, and other students in general, learning about the history and culture of African people and African culture is very important to give balance to a subject that does not get much attention.

Slavery had a tremendous impact on the African people who were robbed of everything—their family, their home, their culture, their whole identity. American laws prevented them from learning how to read and write, and being excluded from the learning process for many decades has taken its toll on the African-American community. So when people ask today, “What’s wrong with the African American community? Why is there so much violence? Why is there so much poverty?,” it is this legacy of slavery that runs through it to this very day.

The first step toward correcting these problems is to talk openly about race and history. We must have a conversation about it and how to heal our community. And the best way is through education. Not just reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we have to educate people about people—including the truth of our history, where the feelings of low self-esteem and anger come from, and the nature of the human being.

So I believe that a well-rounded education—including science, technology, engineering, math, the performing arts, sports, home economics, music, and of course, history—is the key to ending the cycle of violence, poverty, ignorance, war, and racism. Education is the key to our future.

A Philadelphia native, producer, and songwriter, Kenneth Gamble is the CEO and chairman of Philadelphia International Records. He has written and produced more than 3,000 songs along with his writing partner Leon Huff. Gamble and Huff have worked with such world famous recording artists as Michael Jackson, Patty Labelle, Lou Rawls, and Teddy Pendergrass. Gamble still resides in the Philadelphia area, where he continues the furtherance of his education work. This essay is featured in our book "This I Believe Philadelphia," which can be ordered from our online store.

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