The Miseducation of the Negro, published in 1933 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, has been one of the most controversial reads for the Black community over the years. Despite it’s profound impact and insight on the black educational directive, American educational institutions remain intent on miseducating people of African descent. Here, white America is not to blame, rather Black people themselves for reasons articulated in the following article excerpted from Ivan Kilgore’s recently published book Domestic Genocide: The Institutionalization of Society.
To begin. I quote Dr. Bobby Wright where he provides:
One of the most tragic beliefs widely shared by Blacks throughout the world is that White-controlled educational institutions–regardless of whether they are elementary schools or universities–will educate our children. Faith continues to prevail in spite of overwhelming evidence, which disputes this belief. Blacks continue to ignore the irrefutable truth that, in a racist social system, all institutions will reflect, protect, and sustain values that are consistent with racism. This should not be considered surprising or profound since all institutions serve to perpetuate the social theory of the group, which created them. Therefore, in any social system established by whites, the institutions will reflect racism. Likewise, white-established institutions in “Black-controlled” countries [and communities] will continue to protect the welfare of whites’ interests regardless of their political ideology.
Consider here the intent and influence that shaped America’s Historical Black Colleges. The man who Morehouse College is named after, Old Man Morehouse, set forth the concept of the “talented tenth.” This was just one of many underhanded schemes presented to the then leaders of the Black community by the American Baptist Mission Society, the American Missionary Association, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and Jr. who industrialized America and done so by controlling the conscious input, or “deposits” of the masses. The particulars of this Blueprint read in part:
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there probably weren’t but about 1,700 college educated Negro people in AmeriKKKa, so once whites figured (chattel) slavery was over technically, and that some people had to be granted privileges in the society, (they wondered) could they set up a scheme where they could give one out of ten (negroes) something? For every ten people that walk up to world white supremacy, they give one of them something, and they wanted the other nine to think that if they just acted like that one, they could in fact get the riches and promises of the AmeriKKKan dream. So they sold the Negro leadership (the idea), the gimmick of the “talented tenth,” that this ten percent will control ninety percent of the aspirations of our people by exalting and holding up this ten percent.
Old Man Morehouse was one of many founders of “Negro” institutions that bought into the cynicism of white supporters. He was sold on the fact that he would lead a university that would “train” the upper crust of the Negro (population). One would like to believe Black leaders at the time would have been more skeptical of their white supporters and recognized the scheme as it played out. Yet we can credit their lack of awareness, or what was likely their willingness to partake in this system, to the blinding elation of white acceptance. This acceptance provided for them a sense of wholeness, a sense of being human, and thus a sense of esteem in the eyes of their white sympathizers. Subsequently, this would allow for the likes of the Rockefellers to exploit them and further the interest to build an industrial work force. These interests would create the dependency (i.e., the control) that socialized the Negro masses with European ideals and values and, more importantly, the dependency that allowed Black Americans to this date to contribute to white wealth and Black poverty. “Capture the mind and the body will follow,” the Rockefellers and other industrialist surely reasoned. No longer could the Negro be considered chattel. However, his mind could be enslaved as Willie Lynch had already proven. And yet, the ex-slaves’ labor remained an asset to their fortunes. Thus northern industrialists set about to build institutions conducive to sculpting the subservient mindset necessary to man their developing industrial empires. The history of which Du Bois details in his ground shaking book Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil:
… the South has invested in Negro ignorance; some Northerners proposed limited education, not, they explained, to better the Negro, but merely to make the investment more profitable to present beneficiaries. They thus gained wide Southern support for schools like Hampton and Tuskegee. But could this program be expected long to satisfy colored folk? And was this shifty dodging of the real issue the wisest statesmanship? No! The real question in the South is the question of the permanency of present color caste. The problem, then, of the formal training of our colored children has been strangely complicated by the strong feeling of certain persons [n.b., Booker T. Washington] as to their future in America and the world. And the reaction toward this caste education has strengthened the idea of caste education throughout the world.
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It is here that a great movement in America has grievously sinned against the light. There has arisen among us a movement to make Public School primarily the hand-maiden of production. America is conceived of as existing for the sake of its mines, fields and factories, and not those factories, fields and mines existing for America. Consequently, the public schools are for training the mass of men as servants and laborers and mechanics to increase the land’s industrial efficiency.
Similar sentiments have been provided by Amos Wilson:
Equal rights for southern Blacks was of little or no concern to northern businessmen. They had virtually no interest in transforming the region’s racial caste system. In fact, they sought to stabilize southern society by organizing its industrial market, restoring its agricultural prosperity, and achieving racial cooperation on southern White terms by educationally preparing Blacks to work efficiently within that system. “Negro industrialist training” was recognized by industrial philanthropists as the most appropriate form of education for Blacks, who were expected to help maintain the racial order and political stability, and help advance the material prosperity of the South by keeping to their assigned “place” and playing their designed roles in the social and economic system of that region….
These were the… forces that constructed schools like Tuskegee Institute and those mentioned elsewhere that catered to Black Americans. During the late 19th onto the early years of the twentieth Du Bois would write of the matter in Souls of Black Folk:
…from 1885 to 1895, began the industrial revolution of the South… The educational system striving to complete itself saw new obstacles and a field of work ever broader and deeper. The Negro colleges, hurriedly founded, were inadequately equipped, illogically distributed, and of varying efficiency and grade; the normal and high schools were doing little more than common-school work, and the common schools were training but a third of the children who ought to be in them, and training these too often poorly. At the same time the white South, by reason of its sudden conversion from the slavery ideal, by so much the more became set and strengthened in its racial prejudice, and crystallized it into harsh law and harsher custom; while the marvelous pushing forward of the poor white daily threatened to take even bread and butter from the mouths of the heavily handicapped sons of the freedmen. In the midst, then, of the larger problem of Negro education sprang up the more practical question of work, the inevitable economic quandary that faces a people in transition from slavery to freedom, and especially those who make that change amid hate and prejudice, lawlessness and ruthless competition.
The industrial school springing to notice in this decade, but coming to full recognition in the decade beginning with 1895, was the proffered answer to this combined educational and economic crisis, and an answer of singular wisdom and timeliness. Form the very first in nearly all the schools some attention of singular had dignity that brought it in direct touch with the South’s magnificent industrial development, and given an emphasis which reminded black folk that before the Temple of Knowledge swing the Gate of Toil.
Yet after all they are but gates, and when turning our eyes from the temporary and the contingent in the Negro problem to the broader question of the permanent uplifting and civilization of black men in America, we have a right to inquire, as this enthusiasm for material advancement mounts to its height, if after all the industrial school is the final and sufficient answer in the training of the Negro race; and to ask gently, but in all sincerity, the ever-recurring query of the ages, Is not life more eagerly because of sinister signs in recent educational movements. The tendency is here, born of slavery and quickened to renewed life by the crazy imperialism of the day, to regard human beings as among the material resources of a land to be trained with an eye singled to future dividends….
These industrial training camps would in time make wage slaves of not only Blacks, but so too the entire white lower class. Here I must digress to say: for the best of me I can’t figure out how it was that leaders in the Black community were persuaded to primarily focus on industrial education. It just don’t add up. How was it that the freedmen, previously slaves and thus master of all trades, were now striving to make an industrial skill-set the focus of their educational institutions? It makes absolutely no sense to pursue training in something you have had a monopoly on for over 400 years.
In light of the history Du Bois has provided, we must view with distrust the aims of education in American institutions. Notably, their powerful and pulling affect on the development of our values, ideas, and objectives. As this suggests, these institutions affect our ability to “think” independently of the curriculum laid out before us. In other words, they teach us what to think and not how to think; what to learn instead of how to learn. By following such a directive we mindlessly become assets to the capitalist endeavor.
That said, we must observe the power wielded over society by America’s politicians and businessmen. As industrial history has shown they have a profound ability to shape our values, goals, roles, and personality structures. Unquestionably then, they wield the ability to shape our conscious. To this end Wilson provides:
… consciousness is about power, whether as generated and exercised by oneself and/or others. It is the medium by which the individual and others control his state of being and behavior. To the degree that others shape and direct the individual’s consciousness, to that degree is his state of being and behavior under their control… In sum, consciousness is an instrument of social control and power. It is the means by which personal and social behavior is controlled. Hence, the society and culture, particularly those who represent and direct the consciousness of each of the society’s and culture’s members in ways which maintain their integrity and advance their… interests. It is through its shaping and directing of individual consciousness that the society achieves social control, i.e., power over individual consciousness thereby becomes the society’s instrument of social control.
Ultimately, what is of chief importance to the nation’s politicians and businessmen–we are incidentally informed of by Peter J. Burke and Jan E. Stets’ Identity Theory:
… what maintains the patterned and coordinated flows and transformations of resources… is the functions that individuals provide through their behavior and the organization of that behavior… [T]he basic operation of identities is a control system seeking to match perceptions (inputs) [indoctrinated by the training process] with standards [set by politicians and businessmen] … [B]oth perceptions and standards are coded in terms of meaning, both sign meanings and symbol meanings [e.g., diplomas, degrees-equal wealth]. The fundamental action of identities is, therefore, to alter situations in such a way that the meanings of the signs and symbols that are perceived in the situation match the meanings held in the identity standard… [Thus], identities using persons as their agents maintain the patterned and coordinated flows of resources. Identities (not persons) are responsible for the vast network of resource transfers and transformations.
Similar sentiment has been provided by Wilson:
Identity as a personal or collective phenomena is as much, if not more, a political-economic entity as it is a purely social or psychological entity. As a political economy, identity is an organization of interests, tastes, desires, passions, ideals, motives, values, knowledges, abilities, skills, etc., the pursuit, satisfaction, exercise and realization of which helps to maintain the social power relations, social prerogatives and the integrity of social, political, economic systems which characterize a particular culture and its status quo. Thus, in both commercial and noncommercial sense an enthnocultural group trades on its identity. This is the case because the individual’s personality is formed by and reflects the political, social and economic character of the culture and society into which he is born and nurtured. Societies and cultures socialize individuals to adapt to, contribute to, and to operate in their unique socio-economic system.
Here lies the true definition of power–the ability to create and control the identities and behaviors of mankind.
That said, it’s high time for us to quit circling the wagon and chasing after diplomas and degrees to certify our “deposits” of Eurocentricism. We must restore ethnocentric models of education and take a serious look at our HBCs that have been playing the game according to the rules and playbook written by a historical enemy.
Naturally, the question comes to mind: How is it we are to compete in a capitalist society when our playbook is written by our competition? The proposition is so very clear that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove.
No one playbook in the NFL is the same. Each has been designed to allow for the advantages of their unique strategies. Where victorious, strategy is at the heart of their success. No one team would have the advantage over the other without it. If every NFL team played by the same playbook there would be no competitive edge. That is, unless the plays devised were written by one team that in turn did not play by its own rules.
Case in point, our white competitors have broken every rule in the book by legitimizing their theft of native and foreign lands and resources with the U.S. Constitution; they control our concept of education; they control the power of labeling; instill values and beliefs through their institutional structures of family, marriage, law enforcement, etc.–all designed strategies that have been written in their playbook to afford them the advantage over us!
When we look to the playbook scripted by America’s public education system, without question it has been written by a team that does not play by its own rules. “Separate but Equal” and “No Child Left Behind” are but a testament to the fact that “[t]here is no such thing as a neutral educational process.” Education either functions as an instrument of domination used to indoctrinate the ideals, culture, and practices of the status quo, or “it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. The development of an educational methodology that facilitates this process will inevitably lead to tension and [class] conflict within [American society].”
If I have read our philosophers correctly, what they are saying is: We must become authors of our own playbook so as to create the strategies that allow for our social, economic, and political advantage. Strategy is at the heart of education just as education is at the heart of economic prosperity. If what we are being educated (i.e., trained) in does not possess the strategies necessary to create circumstances enough to capitalize on human and natural resources, as have our white competitors, then there is little, if any, chance of us prevailing as a people in a capitalist society.