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I remember when I first heard Malcolm X ask, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” Of course we know the answer to this question, but many of us are afraid to say it. Even mentioning the ways that white-dominated institutions shape our thinking can lead to punishment, ostracism, unemployment, incarceration and even death. The deepest part of this process is that the brainwashing in America can be so deep, so incidious, so subtle, that even the most meaningful reflection doesn’t allow us to solve the complex puzzle of White Supremacy.
This issue came to light last week when I went to visit a prison in Illinois. Although I am a law-abiding citizen, the prison took three years to approve me for a visit. After speaking to one of the inmates familiar with the approval process, we concluded that it was likely that my thinking and educational background made me some kind of threat to their system of oppression against black men. God forbid I go into the prison and say something that might inspire these black men to live a more empowered existence.
The fact is that people like myself are threats to white supremacy because we disrupt racialized systematic brainwashing.
I was sitting at my computer one night, thinking about all the ways that our minds are controlled from the time we are born. I thought about the many flawed concepts that are dropped into our psyches by media, the educational system, and even our own families. Some of these ideas hit us so early that we hardly have a chance to escape them. Others simply leave us crippled and unable to fight the racism all around us. Even more disturbing is that some of the greatest white supremacists in America can be other black people.
So, I made a list of several things many of us believe about the world and ourselves at an early age, as well as things we are trained to do that may end up being to our detriment. Of course this list is not final, nor is it presumably correct on every count. At the same time, it gives us something to think about, because the brainwashing is amazing, deep and deliberate in our society.
Here’s the list:
1) Letting our oppressors educate our children, medicate them, and put them into the school-to-prison pipeline. A thorough miseducation can be more destructive than no education at all, since many of our brains are filled with all the wrong stuff to begin with. Maybe instead of handing your child’s brain over to a public school system that has proven that it can’t properly educate black children, you can consider homeschooling the child after they get home for the day. Everything you need to know in order to teach your child is right there on the Internet.
2) Believing that white people are supposed to give us jobs when we can actually create them on our own: Given our long and rich history of working for white people, it can be difficult to see ourselves as the boss instead of the laborer. In fact, even us “educated” black people were often told that you should study hard in school so that some white-owned company will love you enough to employ you. Now, we’re seeing Harvard MBAs in the unemployment line, struggling to survive, like lions raised in the zoo who are starving to death because they were never taught how to hunt for their own food.
3) Thinking that every black person who goes to prison is automatically a bad human being: Mass incarceration is real and it is not by accident. When prisons are filled with strong black men who’ve received 40 year sentences for possessing two grams of a drug that many white people use on the weekend, you know you have a problem. What’s interesting is that the whole world sees this as a serious issue, but we do not.
4) Eating food that is going to give you diabetes and/or heart disease and/or high blood pressure and/or chronic obesity by the age of 45. Maybe eating pig guts and sweet tea with sweet potato pie every Sunday isn’t such a good idea after all.
5) Valuing sports and entertainment over education: Not many people know the name of the black kid who won the math competition, but everybody knows the guy who won the state championship. This fascination with sports as the pathway to success is largely driven by media, which waves black athletes and rappers in front of our boys just long enough for them to believe that education isn’t cool. Unfortunately, almost none of them ever get to play with LeBron James. Instead, the worst of them may end up as 25-year old baby daddies with no job, a criminal record, a weed addiction, bad knees and a fifth grade reading level. This is hardly the kind of man that an educated black woman would want to call her husband.
6) Believing that black people you see on white-owned TV networks are supposed to be leaders or role models to your community: If a white television executive wants to create key influencers in the black community, they can do so by putting that person on a network. Most of your favorite black celebrities, films, radio shows, TV shows and magazines wouldn’t exist to you were it not for white corporate benefactors positioning them to influence your mind.
7) Believing that every tax refund check and every paycheck is supposed to go straight to the mall to buy overpriced European brands from companies that don’t even hire black people: Money is capital to be used for investing, job creation and building businesses, not a consumption item to be given away at every available opportunity for the sake of materialistic excess or instant gratification. In other words, your money is your power, and you should not give all your power away.
8) Thinking that being “rich” means having a high paying job, a big house or a fancy car, even if it’s all financed with debt: There’s a good chance that the “baller” down the street is one paycheck away from being homeless. To determine the depth of true wealth, you have to go beneath the superficial.
9) Calling yourself and your friends n*ggers (or niggaz) and seeing nothing wrong with that: Listen to me carefully – You are NOT a n*gger, no matter how often Jewish-run record labels pay black rappers to tell you that you are.
10) Giving your money to white businesses and avoiding the black ones: Black people are often referred to as “liquid money,” because we are the only ones who are eager to give our money away to other ethnic groups. No one else does this. The guy in Chinatown is never going to buy your sh*t.
11) Thinking that we’re all supposed to vote for the Democratic Party in every election: Even Bill Clinton admitted that he put too many black people in prison, and President Obama’s not letting them out anytime soon. You don’t owe the Democratic Party anything, especially if they aren’t making black issues a priority.
12) Believing that Africa is a poor, dirty, horrible place with nothing but poverty and disease, and that you should thank your lucky stars you were “blessed” enough to live in America: Newsflash – you live in arguably the most racist country in the world. No country on the planet incarcerates black people the way we do in the United States of America. Many African leaders consider America to be racially corrupt.
13) Believing that Harvard and Yale are better than Spelman and Howard
14) Not realizing that both Spelman and Howard were founded by white people
15) Not realizing that most of the people who founded the NAACP were actually white and that this organization never really belonged to you in the first place. Not that they can’t help you, but they have less loyalty to you than to their corporate and political overseers.
16) Thinking that straight hair is “good” and black hair is “nasty,” then giving all of your money to Korean beauty shops so they can make you feel better about yourself. According to Dr Claud Anderson, roughly 85 cents of every dollar spent on black women’s hair goes to Koreans. I hate to admit it, but this makes us look really, really stupid.
17) Believing that light skinned women are more attractive than those with dark skin
18) Knowing nothing about African history, but believing that every great accomplishment occurred in Europe, starting with Christopher Columbus “discovering” a country that was well-populated thousands of years before he arrived.
19) Believing that you’re only supposed to pray, march and be peaceful every time your children get slaughtered by whites. It takes a while to train people to be as peaceful and forgiving as black people are. The brainwashing must be deeply rooted in tradition. Notice how one of the heads of the Southern Christian Leadership Co... was sent for “retraining” (aka re-brainwashing)after stating that black people should defend themselves. Even self-defense is considered to be a form of aggression when you are black in America.
20) Delivering your prayers to a big, white Jesus who will solve most of your problems for you, as long as you give money to the pastor.
21) Looking up to historical figures like George Washington who put our ancestors in chains and probably raped them
22) Believing that integration was a sign of progress for black people and not an era where black institutions were destroyed and left for dead
23) Believing that Martin Luther King is more important than Malcolm X because white people market him more regularly
24) Believing that Martin Luther King only spoke of peace and forgiveness instead of the same rage and reparations that many of us talk about today
25) Thinking that its normal to have an all-black neighborhood with a mostly white police force, when there are no all-white neighborhoods with a mostly black police force
26) Believing that a half-white president is going to be significantly different from a completely white one: Hint – most high-level politicians think alike, since they are supporting the same system that has oppressed you for 400 years. Many of them went to the same universities (nearly every member of the Supreme Court, plus every president for the last 27 years attended either Harvard or Yale at some point in their career). Also, our system incentivizes our political leaders to value corporate money over the plight of the American people. This is going to be the downfall of this nation.
27) Thinking that the first black (fill in the blank) to get into a white institution actually represents progress, even though whites have never considered it be progress to get into our institutions (Does standard White History include a story about the first white man to get into Morehouse?). We’ve been taught to believe that everything whiter is better: White corporate jobs, white universities, white neighborhoods, white TV networks/media outlets, the list goes on and on.
The fact is that we really, really LOVE white people, and this training started from birth. It started with us first learning how to hate ourselves and each other, and then to believe that the only way to restore our lost humanity was to gain the approval of our oppressors. As a result, we spend our lives marching, hoping, praying, working, begging, bowing, and compromising, with the expectation that we will be rewarded for our good behavior. Unfortunately, it can cause many of us to abandon the person we were meant to be, all for the sake of trying to become somebody else.
Once again, feel free to add to the list. I don’t know everything, but my brainwashing as a PhD tells me that I am supposed to think I know everything. So, maybe this is my first step toward escaping my own psychological plantation. We have all been