Chibok Girls: Remembering the Missing Three Years Later

Chibok Girls: Remembering the Missing Three Years Later

By Odyssey Networks , Apr 14, 2017
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On April 14, 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. Of the 276 girls there are still 195 that are being held captive. On the third anniversary of the abduction, we remember the missing girls. #BringBackOurGirls

 


The Hidden Curriculum of Missing School Girls 

By Tehilah E. Eisenstadt

As we now know from articles in the New York Times, Washington Post and Huffington Post, the March scandal of “14 missing girls of color in DC” wasn’t a scandal at all. There wasn’t a sudden spate of abductions. This is just what happens in DC on a regular basis. The “scandal” occurred when Cmdr. Chanel Dickerson, who heads the DC Youth and Family Services Division, decided it was time to “get the word out” about missing children.  She was successful but her success created confusion. In short order, scandalous language was removed from the public sphere and hashtags were dropped from Twitter as celebrities realized this “sudden spate” was mundane. Reality is that these black girls truly are missing. It is equally true that missing white children get more media attention. White children are commonly considered missing or abducted, while their black counterparts are more likely to be considered runaways until proven otherwise.


When we ignore missing black girls anywhere in the world, we send a message to black girls everywhere about their worth. I learned this intrinsically over the past three heart-breaking years since the abduction of 276 black girls in Chibok, Nigeria.

We teach this value, not through explicit curriculum, the kind referenced at your child’s Parent-Teacher conferences, but we teach this through the “hidden curriculum,” where we transmit our core values and beliefs through who and what we validate, what kind of bathroom options we provide, what we celebrate, or who we look for when they go missing. To consider the effect of hidden curriculum vs. explicit curriculum, just think of what happens when you tell a child “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our media savvy children are watching and they've seen 276 brown and black skinned girls go missing in Nigeria. They’ve similarly seen a few missing children news items before, and those children are usually white. Missing white children’s story lines follow through to the end, marking them as found or murdered. But for the brown and black girls watching, when 276 black girls go missing, the world watches with them, celebrities clamor and then when no progress is made, time passes and those lives go out of print. Lost children have become the hidden curriculum by which we teach our children to differentiate between the children who matter and those who don’t.

I am not a black girl; I am not from Nigeria. When I speak about the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, I typically start with “How does a little Jewish white girl in New York get involved in a cause from a country she’ll probably never visit?”  I got involved because I learned to shout “Never Again,” the Jewish response to the mass murder of the Holocaust that the world largely ignored. I got involved because my son was 3 years old when these children were abducted, which means I’ve been living the unspeakable joy of watching him grow, inquire, love, create, for a sweeping river of minutes, hours, days leading up to three amazing years now. My mother-counterparts in Chibok know this same time as a dry, forgotten road with a question mark in the dark distance. As a student, and now as an educator, I have seen the impact of finding those stories you yearn for. The stories that reflect you as you see and know yourself. I cannot imagine the deafening silence of Twitter when 195 girls who look like me are kidnapped and imprisoned by rapists and terrorists for three excruciating years.


Children look for reflections of themselves in the larger human narrative. Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop introduced the concept of “mirrors, windows and doors” to talk about the limited opportunity children of color have to see their own lives reflected in their childhood literature. Dr. Bishop recognizes the profound effect of self-affirmation stories with protagonists of color have on their young, minority, audiences. As a girl growing up in a Jewish orthodox environment, I fell in love with Biblical narratives, but yearned for female role models I could look up to. I am now a spiritual educator who weaves female narratives into curricula as often as possible. I once watched the end of year class video where each 4 and 5 year old student shared their favorite Torah narrative. A pattern emerged, every female-identifying child chose one of two stories where a female was the protagonist. Male students from the same class retold stories from a bevy of options shared over the year because they saw themselves in multiple narratives. Children look for themselves and they discover that we look for them too, unless they happen to be 276 brown and black girls, in which case more pressing matters take precedence.

Last month we were briefly called to look for 14 missing girls of color in DC, then we were told their plight was not urgent enough for celebrities. During the same month sixty-two victims - mostly women and children - died in the Koshe Garbage Landfill collapse in Ethiopia. These were dark-skinned women and children, you probably didn't hear about their demise.

April 14th marks the third anniversary of the missing Chibok schoolgirls. 195 of them are still missing and unaccounted for.  As a lightning rod for global stories of lost children of color, my heart breaks, not just for each missing girl, but each broken-hearted family. My heart also breaks for each girl who hears this story and sees her image reflected and then erased from the scroll of black text on white background. Please sign the petition via colorofchange.org to remind us all that local girls of color matter. Then head to Bring Back Our Girls on Facebook for updates on the Chibok girls and you can find a script (www.bringbackourgirls3.tumblr.com ) for creating your own viral video to become part of the justice campaign. Join fellow advocates around the world, standing in solidarity, refusing to teach young girls anywhere that their worth can be determined by the color of their skin.

Tehilah E. Eisenstadt is an educator, consulting for Jewish and Muslim schools, various non-profit educational organizations and television, who has been specifically expressing her outrage and heartbreak since April 2014, as convener of the only multi-faith (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) team of female activists of all colors, ages and nationalities dedicated to the Chibok girls in the US.

 


An Interfaith Prayer for Chibok – Three Years Too Long

By Rev. Dionne P. Boissiere

 

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, God of every human soul, hasten to our prayers; We beseech you for the rescue of the 195 Chibok girls in Nigeria, now 3 years still in captivity, still enduring horrific cruelty and still enslaved by inhumane tormentors.


Three years is too long.


Merciful God, we beg you to listen to our plea;


Hear the cries of weeping mothers, hear our hearts that weep for our stolen daughters, our sisters who are left in agony as they await their return.


Three years is too long.


God who redeems, restores and returns home those who are lost and brings chained captives out of confinement. Make your presence known. Stay the hand of death that lingers over them daily by their militant enslavers.


Three years is too long.


God of hope and healing, send them courage… bring healing to the soul, mind and body. We pray their swift and safe return to the families and communities who love and long for them. Three years is too long.


God who lifts and restores, we beg of you to continue to watch over the 81 girls who have escaped the hands of the enemy. Send resources, medical, physical, psychological, financial and humanitarian aid. Send your loving care in abundance as they heal from the deep-rooted trauma they have survived.


Three years is too long.


God of justice, we pray and cry aloud because of these vicious attacks that claim lives and human dignity. Ignite the will and the work of the righteous, that we may demand justice for those who kidnapped and harmed the bodies and spirits of these girls. Move us to pray with our feet and demand of governments to bring back our girls now.


Three years is too long.


Creator of the world, put an end to terror, slavery, human trafficking and exploitation of the weak. Give understanding, compassion and wisdom to all in need; protect every young girl, every child, every woman, every man, all humanity and grant us your peace.
God, in your mercy, hear our prayer….for three years is far too long.


Written by Rev. Dionne P. Boissiere, MDiv. with adapted excerpts from Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, Litany for the Enslaved and Stolen Nigerian Girls and Rabbi Hillel Hayyim Lavery-Yisrael of www.opensiddur.org

 

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