About Ago Ame

1. The first principle is that we will each be committed to helping another member of the community every day. “ On June 28, 1964, Malcolm X announced the formation of the OAAU. The tenets of this new organization were considered at great length and carefully written.” It was the fifth tenet of this organization that dealt with social organization. “The people of the Afro-American community must be prepared to help each other in all ways possible…we must teach [ our children ] that their greatest responsibilities are to themselves, to their families and to their community.” The help that children identified became increasingly substantive as the year went on. The following examples (both in English and in Haitian Kreyol) may give the reader a sense of that commitment.

In addition, closing circle (a ten minute opportunity for reflection before dismissal) became a time when everyone recognized publicly the help that others had given.

2. “Responding quickly to Ago and Ame” requires some explanation. We have borrowed the call and response words, ago and ame, from the Twi language of West Africa. Any member of the community may use ago if she or he needs to get the attention of the group. Ame is the response that acknowledges a willingness to listen. Not only does this call and response demonstrate respect for other members of the classroom, but it offers an example of the cultural borrowings that give honor to cultures of the African Diaspora in the development of a multicultural classroom community.

3. Our classroom is a communal space. We use the Swahili word, Ujima, which we have borrowed from the African American celebration of Kwanzaa, to recognize our cooperative responsibility to this space.

4. The fourth principal of our classroom responds to the promise we have made to each other and to a commitment to a peaceful community. This promise is not a pledge to turn the other cheek, it is a promise of nonaggression and non-oppression. The Setswana (the national language of Botswana) word for peace is kagisano. The literal meaning of this word is “building together.”

5. Setting a good example for younger children asks us to live our daily classroom lives as examples. In the twelfth chapter of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm spoke of The Honorable Elijah Mohammad’s teaching by example style, and of Socrates and later Aristotle setting examples for their followers. He say the value of this practice, and made it part of his own teaching.

Perry, Theresa. Teaching Malcolm X. New York: Routledge, 1996. Print.

13 thoughts on “About Ago Ame”

  1. Jimmy Xiong
    I’m grateful to be here to compromise about a problem about people, people who treat others disrespectfully, people who makes those people that are different feel uncomfortable of living in part of this world. This is a problem of racism and this need to stop even when it has been told by many many men and women out there, there is still an issue with this racism. Racism is a problem in this world and this racism can be cause in any type of situation that judging people by their color or their culture because of what their people did to this world or causing this world issues. This racism causes to hurt and threat those people who are differently by color or races making them feel uncomfortable.
    I see people, judging those who are different by color, by their race giving disrespect of how they are being treat just by their color of their skin.
    I hear people speak the way they use it for bad reason of judging those who are color differently, who are in differently by their race.
    I feel contagious that these feeling had been wondering around my body could not be no longer a bystander, but can be use as a solution to change this world, to change the way we think, feel hear, and see of these people that deserve the respect they need.
    I want my dream to be like a story that haven’t been told, but now it’s gonna be told, shared to you all people that will understand the ways that I feel and the way i see and hear from the mouth of those people that intend to use it to judge the people that they deserve respect. My dream is as a book being read aloud to the world, and now here I am telling you all each and every feelings of words shared out.
    Now is the for a change of us people to treat those different people with respect, with the pride that they have all this long making them grow and glow brighter than before.
    Now is the time for us to change the world without a word about racism, a word that shouldn’t be heard from others and seeing that racism anywhere.
    Now is the time for us to end this racism that we people and those people would not be treated disrespectfully.” Like a great man name Martin Luther King Jr. who talk about racism, a man who left his dream in our hands to treat those people who needs and a person that would stand against racism and have the hope that racism cannot stop us human from giving up on this world.If this problem was fix and there is many solutions to this problem humanity mankind would change, we people would enjoy the time of our lives without racism a world that wouldn’t have any problems.
    I have a dream that men and women and us people, and other races would join forces and treat us people respect that we should have and those people, citizens would get the respect they deserve.
    I have a dream that one day that we people would see the way that I see and feel and be shared the ways that I have been feeling and we people would see the good that even if you’re different by color of the skin or the race you were born isn’t the problem or should I say shouldn’t be the problem for you to treat those people disrespect.
    I HAVE A DREAM that one day we from humanity would join forces together and fight together, survive together feel and share the pain and suffer we felt, this is our way and our road, to lead us to hope. The color of our skin isn’t the content,but the content of our characterization.

    Racism isn’t the way of the life, but no matter your social status or how powerful you feel are, we are all equal. We came here by birth and will leave in death.

  2. I have a question about the use of Ago! Ame! I have used it in many classroom contexts over the years. I’m wondering now if it is wrong for me to appropriate this phrase, since I am white. I love it and I will miss it, but I do wonder if I am overstepping a line here. Please advise. What do you think?

    1. Anne,

      Different contexts require different approaches. I work with inner-city kids and for me this approach is less about being politically correct and more about pragmatism. Appropriating this phrase suggests recontextualizing black culture in an attempt to continue oppressing blacks. I don’t see that in my situation. Do you in yours?

  3. Calvin J. HudsonIV

    Gun Violence

    Each time a gun is brought to the streets of our community that will be another mother or father planning a funeral for their innocent son or daughter that was shot and killed by a gun. I see guns being the destruction of the human race if we don’t put a stop to these crimes, I hear the cries of mothers each night wishing they still had a chance to see their child smile, laugh, or even one more huge, I feel pain each time a boy or girl my age is took from there families I wonder will I be next to die by death of a loaded gun with a bullet with my name attached on to it. A gun is like Grimreaper calling your name for your soul. Each gun, each bullet put in the clip of a gun will be another one of our youth buried under this crooked world. now is the time we stand together as one and stop this violence not just for us but for our youth and our future. now is the time we say no more guns on our community streets. ‘lets not stop violence with violence but with peace’ Said the great Dr. King. ‘I have a dream that all children around the community can walk to point A to point B without looking back over there shoulder with fear they face with a gun.’ ‘I have a dream that gun violence will come to a end that guns will no longer exist on our streets.’ I HAVE A DREAM GUNS WILL NO LONGER DESTROY OUR YOUTH.

    1. Calvin,

      This is an important speech you have written. Thank you for drawing our attention to gun violence and the pain it causes for families. I think your comparison of the gun to the Grim Reaper is great!


  4. I Have A Dream
    I have a dream that one day our nation will come to its senses and realize what kind of a world we have created for everyone. I feel that everyone has forgotten how great and beautiful this nation really is. I have a dream that our great and beautiful nation will come together as one and fix all the mistakes we have created over the past years. We have taken this beautiful world for granted too many times and I believe it’s time that we all stand up for it and said enough is enough! With the freedom we have, I see the violence and destruction we have done to our environment, peers, and to this world. This all just goes back to the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I have a dream that one day I’ll be able to look up and see that our country has finally found its purpose on this planet. My expectations of this nation are high and I hope to see those expectations accomplished in my lifetime. I can’t wait to see a day of when nobody is harmed physically or emotionally by racism and violence. I have a dream that one day I will be able to walk outside without fear of something or someone coming to harm myself and others. If you want to be able to do something without the judgement of others you should be able to. America is supposed to be the land of the free and home of the brave but all I see is the violence and stress it causes to all of us, like a duck out of water. I have a dream that one day we as a nation will learn to get along with each other and the rest of the world. I hope that everyone out there suddenly realizes that no one is perfect and no matter how smart or dumb, beautiful or ugly, skinny or overweight we must all be treated the same.
    If we focus on the future instead of the past it will allow us to have a better future. If we are able to do that than in the near future we should experience positive and great things happening to our country. I have a dream that one day we will learn to leave our problems in the past and begin to build a better future. This is my hope with this faith we will be able to stop all the madness and chaos we have created and finally be able to live in peace. I also hope that we will eventually end all our problems we have with foreign countries and learn to respect the way people are running their country. When this day comes it will be the day when everyone comes together to build up our nation and all hatred from our country is eliminated. Great events such as the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the American Revolution mark few of many wonderful times in our country’s history. I hope to see our nation rise up again and stand together.

  5. I have a Dream

    Bullying… This harassment happens everyday. All over the world, usually in school, people suffer in silence and are both verbally and physically abused. This crime goes without penalty and is unacceptable for the victims. I see the suffering on their faces. I hear the silent cries that they hold inside. I feel the pain that torments them over and over again. This pain is like the never-ending sufferings in hell. The bully is the coward that doesn’t know how to express his or herself. This outrageous unpunished crime is wrong, and we should put an end to it. Now is the time we step up and share our voices. Now is the time that we all realize the seriousness of this problem. Now is the time for the great change that all scholars deserve. “We are created equal,” and should be treated equally as well. I have a dream that our families will reunite, that our families will help each other, and fight against this horrible crime that continues to go unpunished. I have dream that all kids in schools will be treated equally. I have a dream that we put an end to bullying.

  6. How my mind and heart
    Argue to keep you near me,
    I know the clear choice,
    I know the right decision,
    Show me, should I need, or want.

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