By Taki Raton
A select panel of community based educators has been assembled to explore and dissect the highly acclaimed newly released book “BRAINWASHED – Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority” Friday, May 7, 2010 at Bolton Hall, lecture room B52, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beginning at 6 p.m.
Drs. William Rogers and Cecil Austin, both professors in the Department of Africology, at UWM, Bro. Gimbu Kali, Adjunct Professor at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and Dr. Chrishirella Warthen, Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University will serve as panel members invited to examine in detail the twelve chapter text.
This presentation is co-sponsored by UW-M’s Department of Africology in association with Dr. Roger’s course, “The School in African American Society.”
“Brainwashed” is authored by founder and former CEO of the Chicago based Burrell Communications, Tom Burrell. Burrell is additionally a national marketing communications pioneer and an Advertising Hall of Fame inductee.
Over 400 people were in attendance Friday, March 19 at Chicago’s DuSable Museum for a celebrated panel of presenters seated for both the introduction of this highly anticipated work and an analysis of its content.
Themed “ARE YOU BRAINWASHED? The Marketing of Black Inferiority 21st Century Style,” discussants included Burrell, “Ballad of Emmett Till” playwright Ifa Bayeza, and Princeton University professor and author Dr. Cornel West.
Moderated by TV commentator Tavis Smiley, this panel review was in association with the following Saturday, March 21, Black Agenda roundtable discussion held at Chicago State University.
It was actually on that Friday evening that this writer, who was invited to the DuSable event, had the initial idea to structure and convene a presentation here in Milwaukee.
This area panel would be profiled with a strong pulse on our history; one that can speak from a culturally specific frame-of-reference, and a collective presenter membership that has strong standing in our community.
After speaking with Drs. Rogers, Austin, and Warthen, the interest swelled and excitement generated over the idea and we moved ahead with the planning.”
Kali brings to the discussion a classical in-depth understanding of racism and White World Supremacy.
We are both masters degree alumnus from the Center for Inner City studies and nearly bar none from an African Centered culturally specific anchor, particularly under the teachings of our now esteemed ancestor Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, would there be any other curriculum or institution in this country that could top the depth and quality of study, historical research, and instructional focus of Global White Supremacy as taught at the Center.
Gimbu Kali was an exceptional protégé in this arena. We are very fortunate to have his remarks included in this sharing.
Burrell in promotional material notes that the myth of both White Supremacy and Black Inferiority was created to justify slavery within a democracy and became “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time.”
“Brainwashed” reveals how the torturous enslavement and indoctrination of a people “resulted in the powerful, all-pervasive, mass-media driven brainwashing that impacts African American lives even today and may be more subtle than in the past, given that a Black First Family occupies the White House.”
To place for the reader Burrell’s comments within a chronological corridor, the formalized birth of the White Supremacy myth would have its origins in the 1700s.
A driving force in the design of this historical falsehood was the Constitutional Convention, which met 223 years ago in 1787.
The official charge of delegates who attended this assemblage in Philadelphia was to amend the Articles of Confederation. But as many historians would assert, the Articles were ignored and an entirely new constitution was written.
Within ensuing political discussions, concessions were made back and forth between the Southern and Northern States. One such resolution was to mend the argument of the population count with the South having enslaved Africans in numbers and the North being nearly slave free.
To resolve this issue to the agreement of both parties, rather than each slave being counted as a person, three-fifths of a state’s slave population would be counted toward that state’s total count. Thus each slave legally became three-fifths of a human being.
However, by the time of this assemblage, notes Dr. Joy DeGruy in “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” a significant portion of White Americans had already “viewed Africans as a lesser species of humans than those of European descent.”
The ongoing challenge of White America, and most notably of the European world globally, was to dehumanize the African and prove in all circles of humankind activity that Whites are superior and Blacks are inferior.
The rationale for such ethnic re-imaging was to provide for the White psyche (DeGruy, et al.) foundational mental and emotional justification both for participation in and support of institutionalized slavery and for the aggressive continuation and cultivation of the slave trade.
As quoted in Anthony Browder’s “Nile Valley Contribution to Civilization,” this myth would be expressed in philosopher David Hume’s words that “I am apt to suspect the Negroes… to be naturally inferior to the White;” in the thoughts of scholar John Burgess who contends that “There is something natural in the subordination of an inferior race even to the point of enslavement of that inferior race.”
Even President Abraham Lincoln would advance sentiments that while Whites and Blacks may live together, “there must be the position of superior and inferior. And I as much as any man I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race.”
This indoctrination would be well seeded by the mid 1600s, but took formalized rooting during the 18th century in the behavior, thinking, and view of life, view of the world, view of history, view of ancestry, view of a present, view of future, and the view of eternity in the heart, mind, and soul of White America.
Such a view then and now would be reflected and actualized in all areas of American people activity – in economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war as positioned by Dr. Francis Cress Welsing in her work “The Isis Papers.”
White Supremacy and Black Inferiority were also the 24/7 brainwashing focus on the African enslaved. And he too, like the European, came to believe in this same myth once the connection of memory tying him/her to our Motherland was destroyed.
We were transformed from an African to a slave. Our minds were literally “Whitewashed” during this cross-generational alteration process over 246 years from 1619 to and through 1865 – and continuing.
The Black enslaved was stripped during this process of an autonomous African memory. We were stripped of our love for Africa. We were stripped of our knowledge of Self – of our African Way.
We were stripped of our natural and humane connection to ancestry, legacy, history, heritage, tradition, identity, purpose, direction, values, culture, consciousness, language, name, birthright, laws, spirituality, rituals, and holidays – of our tomorrow, future, destiny, eternity, and of our own Forever.
The African’s mind at the conclusion of this transformation process became what Tavis Smiley during his March 20th Black Agenda terms a “blank slate” waiting to be written upon.
And it would be at this point in time when the White enslaver wrote his “Way” on our Black blank minded slate that we would then became that slave – his slave.
With his mental “Whitness” in our Black bodies, we were at that point and continually still now today conditioned to think in his way per his thoughts, sentiments, view of life, view of the world, view of his past, view of the now present, view of the (his) future and view of (his) eternity.
In this state of mind, the Black man and woman in this mental slave conditioning would be in Burrell’s book, “Bred to be Led.”
We were birthed and bred then and now to follow only and exclusively White; only to duplicate White; only to replicate White; only to imitate White; only to cultivate White; only to protect White; only to maintain White; only to perpetuate White; only to praise White, and only to eternalize White.
Thus, we have one of the reasons why our children self-destruct, as many of them say they do not see a future for themselves, only because we as a people – and particularly we as Black men – have not reclaimed one for them to grow into.
We are only trained – bred – to build, create, maintain, cultivate, and protect a future for other people.
And we actually physically die in their (someone else’s) future. We do not experience death in our own time space; in a world, in a reality, in an existence that is our own as was the case of our Classical African ancestry along the banks of the Nile.
This is why so many Black adults, particularly Black professionals, around the country were so much against Black Power in the past and the African Centered movement over previous decades because we were, then and now, conditioned to accept and protect only that which was White.
We were then, and now, only responding to our White ingrained conditioning generationally passed down to us through us. We were not acting within our own yet to be rescued African ascended mind.
And as Butch Slaughter and Erick Grimes would say in their work “Why our children hate us – How Black adults betray Black children,” we came off the plantation in 1865 a “damaged (African-sic) people;” a condition that has yet to be healed and reversed.
It even becomes curious reflecting over all those years when we were saying that “the battle is for the minds of our children.” We were wrong with that one! The battle is actually for our own adult minds.
Then and only then upon being victorious in this battle for the reclaimed Black/African adult self, can we then address the needs of our children. Until such time, the future and well being of our young ones are still in the hands of others, be it through their direct actions or through us – their representative conduit.
How did this conditioning continue and relentlessly become cultivated over these 145 years from 1865 to the present? Within the “Brainwashed” context, Smiley says that this conditioning from the time of our enslavement to and through the present was continuous:
“It incessantly never stops. This same theme is projected constantly. The images keep saying to us that we are indeed inferior.
“We bought it and we not only bought it, but true to any kind of brainwashing, the brainwashed becomes a part of the brainwashing team.
The abused becomes the abuser. And that is where we are. We are indeed the chief perpetuators of our own victimizations,” he says.
“Brainwashed” examines how the very fabric of Black American life has been undermined by such continued brainwashing, initially structured on the plantation and, as DeGruy would proclaim, continually passed on throughout each and every nearly five birthed generations of Black people during the past 145 years from Emancipation to and through the present – and continuing.
Burrell recounts how the effects of such a conditioning to this day impacts on our male/female relationships, family issues, finances, emotional and spiritual concerns, entertainment, health, and particularly in education.
In this regard, the May 7 panel will deconstruct the posture in “Brainwashed” that due to our yet unresolved historical circumstance, the Black community is still impacted by such issues as: why Blacks cannot build strong families, why Black and beautiful are still contradictions; why Blacks kill one another at astronomical rates; why Black stereotypes are promoted so aggressively; why Black students perform so poorly in school, and the “paradox of progress” as reflected in the myth of a “post-racial society.”
“An audacious and powerful wake-up call! ‘Brainwashed’ unflinchingly probes the psychological, political, and economic dimensions of the White Superiority/Black Inferiority complex,” says Dr. West in his review.
“Mastermind and master marketer Tom Burrell delivers a critical analysis of the forces that have shaped the negative perceptions, self-esteem, and circumstances of Black Americans over the last 400 years,” says National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and “Essence” Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Susan L. Taylor.
In chapter analysis, the Milwaukee panel will present contemporary issues that reflect current day Black Inferiority, examine the historical roots leading to such behavior and finally bridge to offering positive solutions.
“Brainwashed” is available for purchase at Readers Choice Book Store, 1950 North Martin Luther King Drive. Proprietor Carla Allison’s number is 265-2003.
The May 7 UWM event is free and open to the public. Seating will be limited in the Bolton B52 lecture hall. For further information please contact this writer at [email protected]
NEXT WEEK: An interview with author Tom Burrell on BRAINWASHED