…the problems before our communities will not disappear until we up and take control of our systems of education, economy, law enforcement, and other social and economic factors that contribute to our community development. If we continue to run from this truth then we will continue to see an assortment of individuals and groups that milk the chaos for what its worth. Their faces we are all too familiar with. They are the nation’s politicians who, prior to their election, are full of hope. They dupe us with promises to correct wrongs, to provide solutions to society’s ills, and to put things in order. Yet the very moment they step into office, their pledges are long forgotten. History has proved this time and time again. It proves the fact that they are simply chasing the money train. That the problems before the ghetto persist in face of all their problem-solving initiatives, is a tell in itself that the game is being thrown so as they can collect on their bets and lip service.
Notably, the solutions they advocate are prescribed by the very establishment that stands to benefit from the problem. For example, the same people who control the school system control the prison system. They advocate better education yet their schools are the pipeline to prison. It is for this reason that any solution that comes from the top-down and not the bottom-up must be rejected. For they are intended only to scratch at the surface of the problem so as it persists as a viable source to political and economic ambitions. These solutions are but mirages—the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, Better Education for the Poor, etc. Then, like hypocrites they audaciously condemn those who fall victim to the traps they set by reducing school budgets, off-shoring jobs, “green-lighting” drug trafficking, and decimating organizations that prevent gang violence. These are the politicians who are heavy on the throttle to systematically impose those very systems of education, law, and economy that I have written of within these pages that destroy our community. In all their problem-solving initiatives they act as if the game is not rigged in capitalist America where big fish eat little ones and those at the helm of the ship steer it in the direction of making crime, for example, functional for society.
That said, it is of no surprise as to why problems persist in the ghetto. If anything has been gained from the previous chapters, I hope it’s the fact that social and economic problems persist in the ghetto because of the immense level of political activity (and arguably the lack of it on our part) aimed at keeping the poor poor and the rich rich. That’s the plan, plain and simple. Chapters 1 through eight are but mere examples of the social, economic, and cultural occurrences that come of this political gamesmanship.
So how do we protect ourselves, our families and communities from this design that makes for the competitive society in which we live? What of solutions, if any, to the continual problems it causes in the ghetto? These are but frequently asked questions that everyone seems to have on their lips to provide an answer to. Even I myself have had such questions put to me. Of course, I do not have all the answers. Nor is there any one solution to the number of problems before the ghetto. However, that’s not to say there is no solution to each problem. After all, they have their causes.
Theoretically, solutions are quite easy to come up with. In fact, the answer to a number of problems before the ghetto have been provided by committed scholars such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Dr. Na’im Akbar, Paulo Freire, Amos Wilson, and the many others cited throughout the course of this work. Notably, the solutions they advocate are grounded in the concepts of nation building, which center on cultural and economic organization. Where problems before the ghetto persist, it is because those experiencing them are not willing to accept the solutions provided by our Black scholars. Then too, people are simply not willing to make the necessary sacrifices and they lack discipline in all matters, which places them at an intellectual disadvantage.
It has been said that what we do not know by way of knowledge, we will be exploited by! Accepted as such, the forging scholars point to the fact that problems before the ghetto (n.b., poor Black communities) can be traced to our educational disorganization. It would only seem logical then that our focal point for solutions begins with the search for a true educational experience as they suggest. As with Malcolm, this experience is more likely to be had within a prison cell than a college classroom for reasons articulated in chapter 5.
Be that as it may, I see more of the world through my narrow prison window than most people walking around in it because my worldview is clean and visionary like a window plane. No longer is my intellectual development constrained by the clutches of America’s perverse educational institution. Like shutters it operated to control the degree of clarity and vision I attained in insight and hope. It distorted the quality of light that beamed through the window plane of my worldview. No doubt, the darkness it created within me was deconstructive and a detriment to my community. Yet there has been inspiration found in the small beams of light provided by our great African scholars whose insight on the educational process has allowed for me to push back the shutters and clean the debris from the window plane. This has allowed for me to receive the full radiance of factors impinging on my growth and development. Immediately, as if I changed the lenses to which I viewed the world, my environment began to change as I became aware of the factors that allowed for me to make it a product of me instead of the other way around. As the light dominated the newfound reaches of my mind, I found myself no longer stumbling in the dark of my ignorance. No longer am I ignorant of the fact that American schools function primarily within the perimeters of “banking” and “training” concepts of education that, for example, operate to solidify the class positions of racial groups and to allow the elite to control the masses. No longer am I ignorant of the fact that these institutions function to indoctrinate an imperialist ideology that systematically works to destroy the norms, values, traditions, and languages of non-Europeans. This is the objective of the Dick Sloans of America.
That there is a near 50 percent high school dropout rate amongst Black children and less than eight percent of American students attend college is of no happenstance. Contrary to popular belief these figures do not represent a failing educational system.
Failure, we know, is a matter of perspective. If we look at the system as “wanting” to provide a quality education to American kids, it is an abysmal failure—and we cannot understand it. If, however, the objective is to utilize public education and state ran universities to control the flow of human capital made available to man the corporations and various government agencies set in place by America’s ruling class, then the above statistics represent a howling success. If we can understand this, the system’s “failure,” as well as its obstinate refusal to change its broken-down colonial model, becomes perfectly understandable.
Furthermore, when Black people in particular give credit and crisis to these statistics we affirm our deafness to “our” scholars who have been telling us for the past 100 years or so that the American educational institution was not designed to teach the oppressed anything other than how to remain oppressed. Said differently, the system was not designed to teach the oppressed to become the oppressor. I’ll spare the details of repeating chapter 5 and just say this with regards to colonial education: IT WAS DESIGNED TO FAIL US!
That said, that 50 percent high school dropout rate is screaming at us to do something other than what we’ve been doing since “1863.” It’s screaming at us to quit circling the wagon and chasing after diplomas and degrees to certify our “deposits” of Eurocentricism. It’s screaming at us to restore ethnocentric models of education. It’s screaming at us to 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.
As the forging has suggested, in order for our children to succeed in capitalist America we’re going to have to change our educational directive. The point has been well-stated, American schools construct our taken-for-granted beliefs about education and not, as we would like to believe, ourselves who develop those beliefs purely on the basis of objective evidence as to the academic abilities of students. Our educational reality is largely constructed for us by the education institution. According to Machiavelli, it was most important for a prince to seem “merciful, faithful, human, sincere, religious.” But as long as such appearances were maintained, it was not necessary for him to actually be so. If we define a leader as good or education as effective, then by so doing we have released certain powerful forces in society—forces which may easily become dysfunctional for the political and educational institutions.
Seemingly, I have contradicted myself in making many of the foregoing points that are of a different tune considering the experience I detailed regarding my college experience. It wasn’t that I did not learn anything while attending college. Rather, it was what I already knew prior to attending that assisted my understanding as to why I was there. Unlike many kids who are sent off to these institutions with no life experience, I was 24 years old and had already gone through a series of life changing events that prepared me to think, to question, and analyze the nature and intent of the instruction I was to receive there. When awarded the academic scholarship, Assistant Dean Barry Goldstein, who wrote the letter of recommendation, would comment to the fact that I was one of the few students who sought understanding beyond the appearances and certifications associated with a degree. My response was if only he knew what I had gone through to become so insightful.
Notably, I pointed out to him the fact that when I graduated from high school, intellectually I was bankrupt with exception to what I learned from my grandparents and the streets when it came to providing for my family and I. However, adhering to what I was taught in high school had me bouncing to-and-fro from one slave to another at one point of my life trying to make ends meet. Indeed, college provided me insights I did not possess in some aspects. Though, it was not until I found myself back in prison with the luxury of a life sentence that I discovered the freedom Malcolm X spoke of in developing his “home-made” education. The truth extracted from my self-studies adjusted my focus to the fact that my government education (i.e., training) was like a 12-step brainwash camp that did not teach anything but how to be slaves and work hard for white people to build up they shit, make they business successful while they exploiting us. And they ain’t teaching us nothing related to solving our own problems… They ain’t teaching us how to get crack out the ghetto. They ain’t teaching us how to stop the police from murdering us and brutalizing us… They ain’t teaching us how to get our families to better interact with each other. They just teaching us to build they shit up….
Our existing Black educational institutions must remove themselves from this straitjacket. This is that “training” that has dominated much of our classroom pedagogy for the past 150 years, which has caused us to major in the minor and fail in our understanding of what is major opposed to what is minor.
Educational establishments are as much a part of the defense establishment of a people as is their army. A people bereft of educational institutions dedicated and designed to defend their interests and to solve their problems, are essentially a defenseless people, a people vulnerable to the exploitation of other peoples as well as vulnerable to annihilation. We cannot advance or appropriately defend our interests and lives as an Afrikan people if we place the fate of our community in the hands of the educational establishments of our oppressors and enemies, and in the hands of those Afrikans educated in them.—Amos Wilson
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 9−“IMPROVING THEIR REALITY.”
Ivan Kilgore is the now published author of Domestic Genocide: The Institutionalization of Society. Friend him at Facebook/Ivan Kilgore.com. You can contact him directly at:
California State Prison Sacramento,
Ivan Kilgore, No. V31306,
FB2-118, P.O. Box 290066,
Represa, Ca 95671.
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