Black History Month and the Cockroach

February 7, 2007

Bug WatchingWell, it’s (officially) that beautiful time of year again, celebrated 365 — Black History Month! As we laud the courage and contributions of our ancestors…recognize the average Janes and Joes impacting the community…discover little known facts from ‘A minute in Black History’ media spots, so begins the African-American research paper season for students — and their parents. My son (third grade) and I have joined forces to climb this mountain together.

What in the world does Black History Month have to do with the cockroach? Interesting enough, we didn’t set out to prove or disprove a connection between the two…neither am I referring to my childhood years in the ‘hood in FLA, where waterbugs and other flying roaches reign over empires lol. Yet, a connection DOES exists, so allow me to break this down to you, like my son did to me.

The African-American scientist we chose to highlight is Charles Henry Turner (1867-1923). Mr. Turner dedicated his life to entomology, the study of insects. Not only was he the first scientist to prove that insects could hear, he also proved that bees could remember the geography of land, and that ants used light rays to find their way home. Really cool things for a young boy to discover.

But the coolest of them all was Mr. Turner’s research regarding the cockroach. He studied the cognitive behavior of cockroaches in a maze and found:

When a pathway led to a dead end, the cockroaches remembered this and did not take that path again.

Immediately after reading this intriguing fact, my son exclaimed, “We don’t even do that!” Now, I knew what MY “that” was, but I didn’t want to assume that HIS “that” was my “that”…so I asked, “What do you mean?” (got that?)

He begins to explain how we (people) do the same wrong things over and over, knowing good and well that it leads to a dead end…a not-so-good ending, like no TV, no fun, no going outside to play, etc. In between reflections of my repeated dead ends, I could tell he was really bringing this thing home…making it applicable to himself. By this time in the discussion, of course, big sister chimes in, and after a brief interchange, they hilariously land on the same thought in duet style — “And WE have bigger brains!!”

Are there lessons in our lives that seem to be stuck on repeat? Why do we keep trying, living, choosing the same patterns that consistently lead to “not-so-good” endings? From this moment in my Black History, I will mark the example of the cockroach, and remember that if an inferior, pea-brained bug has sense enough to remember the dead ends, and never go down those paths again, I can do it too. Ashe.Selah


2 Responses to “Black History Month and the Cockroach”

  1. […] little cockroach, I’ll do so much better with the dead ends next time *smile*…See you outside the […]

  2. kevin grindell Says:


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