HOUSTON – Did you know that African-Americans have been behind the curve ball in the area of entrepreneurship via systemic forms of oppression? When reviewing our history, once our ancestors were freed from the bounds of slavery, very few employers wanted to hire them to complete the same work that was completed months prior for free.
What did the government do to provide shelter and income to this newly freed population of African-Americans needing employment and basic shelter? The answer is simple, the government created, “Projects,”, or “Wards,” as a quick remedy to solve this pressing problem.
These “Projects or Wards,” were implemented via the inner cities across America in addition to Welfare and Section Eight Systems that provided gateways of dependence and induced sloth. Simultaneously, many African-Americans became disgusted by these co-dependent governmental practices and decided to delve into their own creativity to become world class entrepreneurs.
How is this relevant to the curriculum taught at Booker T. Washington High School?
Booker T. Washington instructor, Mrs. Valerie D. Payne, has taken our history, merged it with the reality of our present, and is providing multiple pathways for our students of color to achieve the American Dream.
These pathways include teaching our minority students about entrepreneurship via hands on projects as simple as selling cookies to peers throughout the entire school year. By teaching our students how to build a business, our students have learned the entire cost analysis process: What does it cost to purchase product (cooking oven and dough)? How does the cost of the packaging (bags) affect the profit? They have also learned how to bake the product, how to market the product, how to make the actual sale to their peers, and how to increase the profit margin regarding the bottom line.
Throughout this entire learning experiment, Mrs. Payne, also provides instruction in a variety of skill sets and competencies like: self-management, effective communication skills, personal finance, business finance, public speaking, listening skills, personal values, as well as activities that foster the development of etiquette skills.
To pretend that race issues are not present in the traditional forms of education and in obtaining jobs in corporate America as evidenced by our past, that would not be in the vein of full disclosure; Nor would we be providing the truth about the state of our current society, and this would be a disservice to our students.
Mrs. Payne’s creative teaching practices are destroying glass ceilings and invisible barriers that, in the past, have separated women and minorities from earning true freedom in America via entrepreneurship. Presenting all options to our students of color, here at Booker T. Washington High School, is highly important, and her passion and hard work is greatly appreciated.