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Carter G. Woodson published one of the most thought-provoking literary works of art in American academia, The Mis-Education of the Negro. In the years leading up to his 1933 publishing date, of the famed book, Woodson felt compelled to articulate through words his premise regarding the continuity in the deprivation of Black American progression. Woodson hypothesized that the economic and psychological inferiority that burdened Blacks was caused by abstract, unseeable hegemonic forces. He argued that the majority of Blacks lacked the knowledge of themselves and the truth of their ancestors’ unique role in the development of the modernized world, which led to their inferiority complex.
THE “educated Negros” have the attitude of contempt toward their own people because in their own as well as in their mixed schools Negros are taught to admire the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin and the Teuton and to despise the African. (Woodson, pg. 7)
The questions now are: How far have we come from this negative kind of thinking? Has the pathogen of self-deprivation been eradicated from our train of thought, or does “this” virus continue without a cure?
Hegemony is a powerful force that permeates through every corner, crack, and crevasse in the American society. When one thinks they have escaped it, and unplugged from the grid of its oppressions, it exemplifies itself in a variety of damaging ways: through news, social media, educational institutions, sports, entertainment, employers, at church, political parties, and everyday conversations with neighbors and family members; this is regardless of racial ethnicity. It is the unforeseeable force, a machine, that has become the Leviathan for Black America, and it comes as the ultimate destroyer of their authentic, unique, African Diaspora experience.
In the 21st century, the Leviathan now, gives birth to a modified Negro hybrid—docile—Black—American: A genetically damaged, self-hating human being who knows nothing, nor cares to know and honor those from which he or she is from and visibly akin.
Hence, in 21st-century America, little to nothing has changed on the macroeconomic level for Black America. The same hegemonic forces in place during Woodson’s time were sealed into the foundation of America long before he wrote The Mis-Education. Now, consequently, white hegemony rules the land and Black America has no seat at the powerful decision-making table – despite two terms of America’s first Black president.
In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced himself to Black America as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. Sadly, the majority of black Americans did not have faith that Obama could win the presidency. In the initial stages of his campaign, they did not support him. One would have thought Barack’s marriage to a black woman, Michelle Robinson-Obama, and fathering black children, Sasha and Malia, the majority of Black America, would have gathered around to support his campaign. However, black Millennials and most of the black baby boomers, who had supported Bill Clinton’s Presidency, between 2006 and 2008 polarized into two different groups. The majority of black baby boomers stuck to who they were familiar with and voted for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton while simultaneously hurling epithets and ageism slurs at Obama. They neglected to probe and question former Secretary Clinton’s husband’s damaging policies that led to the horrifying increase of incarnated black men (i.e., 1 in 3 Black men sequestered in the prison-industrial complex).
With high volumes of black Americans incarcerated and the prevalence of systematic, multifaceted levels of oppression, the community remains in an economic holocaust that is visibly known and discussed throughout academia and in politics. Yet nothing gets done!
Since the Civil Rights Era, education on how to eradicate black poverty and low academic achievement remains a policy agenda that has yet to be checked off of any presidents’ or political parties’ lists because the problem is still there. Dropout and suspension rates among black youth are higher than they were during Jim Crow, and there are multiple reasons for this increasing number.
One reason is that it is very difficult for black children to relate to white teachers. White teachers use a different form of American English colloquialisms, which makes it difficult for a black child to connect to them. Knowingly, black youth are keenly aware that their teachers don’t reside on their side of town, and most black children believe their white teachers are rich, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Secondly, white teachers usually have a different upbringing than their black pupils. The dissonance between the pupil and the educator make both parties vulnerable to subconscious bias and judgments about the other’s culture. For example, the white teacher may mentally and unintentionally plant a savior mentality upon “their” black pupil which could be culturally damaging both on the micro and macro scale. Furthermore, a white teacher may feel frustrated and quarrel with a student and either intentionally or unintentionally say something racially bias to their pupil, which could also lead to emotional self-damage for both parties.
Next, there’s a black teacher shortage. The pandemic of black children not being taught by black male and female teachers has been damaging to the race at the macro level for decades; moreover, black teachers, who were taught by subconsciously racist teachers, continue to pass down diabolical ideologies on subjects that do nothing to empower black youth. Instead, the information presented only damages black youth because they are taught who the masters of society are. Unfortunately, integration created this highway to the psychological deprivation of Black youth.
Language is a powerful tool that Black Americans must learn to master in order to awaken and escape from the jaws of latency; hence, a black intellectual renaissance is needed for Black youth and Black America as a whole. A period of great awakening of self, whereby an inner focus brings about social-economic structural changes that render prosperity. An era where the psychological and social-economic damage caused by the dominant culture goes into remission.
After careful study, it appears the only solution for the African Diaspora descendants living in America is to revert back to a time when de jure segregation forced Black Americans to be selfishly independent of certain aspects of the hegemonic culture. Black Americans have reached such eras of success in the past, although they occurred in pockets. The Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, achieved such successes prior to the ending of Jim Crow and the heyday of the 1960s.
Needless to say, the formula for what created Black Wall Street is long and gone and will most likely never be achieved again due to the systemic impacts of white hegemony. However, with the help of socially conscience and socially understanding human beings from all ethnic groups, the pandemic of black poverty and latency can come to an end.
The responsibility remains in the hands of Black America to heal itself psychologically and economically. The white community’s responsibility is to call out one another when visible racism is present and when subconscious racism can be detected, whether there is a black person present or not. Only then can we eradicate the pandemics that continue to pledge America’s Black community and can essentially make their own bootstraps and climb the economic and social ladder to success.