Monday, February 28, 2011
The Mis-Educated Negro
I once taught a college course where “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” the most profound novel ever written in my opinion, was the required class text. It was an amazing experience because of powerful messages revealed within the pages. Especially when you consider this great work was originally published in 1933 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is known as the father of Black History Month; this book should be mandatory reading for all African Americans – young and old.
As the class progressed and the assigned chapters were read, I was struck by the fact that we have not understood the potent message left for us. The thesis of Dr. Woodson's book is that Negroes of his day were being culturally indoctrinated rather than taught in American schools, or not even given the advantage of education. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent, seeking out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident nearly eighty years later.
He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power... those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.”
Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, and social networking, we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the question is “why are we not?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage of these options to strengthen and empower their communities while robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody set up shop in our communities and take our money.
My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping our money in our communities. Some say we spend trillions annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results. We can change the world, but first we must change ourselves.
Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:
"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit." It is time to build upon what was left for us or more importantly “know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to get there.”