The struggle of Black people have been well-documented by multiple theologians, historians, journalists and researchers, as well as our ancestors who were in the unfortunate position of being in the ultimate form of bondage.
Barbarities such as raping of our women, castrations, public lynching for (other people’s) “entertainment”, and the separation of families… were the norm for our people.
Add to that the stripping us of our culture and suddenly you have a group of people in 2017 in the same position they have been since the 1600s.
Much has changed since then, and while all of these have been damaging, the one I find the most devious, but seemingly effective, was the denying and controlling of our ability to read.
The punishment for reading was severe, if not fatal, and those slaves who were allowed to read were misguided to such a degree that they too believed in their own inferiority.
With limited reading skills and basically the clothes on their backs, our ancestors made great strides, but with a high school dropout rate, a biased political and legal system we now find ourselves in a similar position as our ancestors. Working for the good of the Master and receiving no benefits, under- educated and disenfranchised.
Yes, our literacy skills have improved, but not to the extent of our pre-slavery state where we may have spoken several languages out of necessity in order to deal with different tribes and to be able to move freely.
This is not a big deal for me because we should have our own form of communication, which allows us to speak to each other as Black People. But our reading habits and the lack thereof have been a huge setback and handicap in our struggle as a people.
Actual comprehensive reading helped bring us out of servitude, by reading about intelligent and critical thinking writers who were unapologetic in speaking power to truth.
Fast forward to 2017. Blacks are gradually being phased out via guns, drugs, legal systems, education and economic inequality, yet our lust for Jordan’s, Calvin Klein, Tommy H, cars and clothes still gets fulfilled. We have easier and faster access to information than our ancestors ever did, yet many of our brothers and sisters are YouTubing, Real Housewiving, As The World Churns, or worried about what some entertainer (who doesn’t give a damn about them) is doing.
Take it or leave it, the majority of us don’t read anything of retainable value, if we do it’s the grocery store flyer or the Bible.
No disrespect intended, but the answer to fighting present-day problems isn’t in either one of those. Most who read novels are reading stereotypical Zane-type novels, which have some of the flair of African-American Donald Goines, but none of them with street cred.
In the meanwhile, our oppressors are reading the works of Napoleon to learn strategy, Machiavelli to learn trickery… In fact, they even read the writings of our scholars and leaders to learn the truth, and to help better their grip on us.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying; by no means am I saying you can read your way out of oppression, but to better understand how to accomplish a task you have to read the manual or at least watch the video.
So if you wonder why our kids are overly concerned with music, videos, sex, clothes, cars, tight and torn jeans etc., check what or if the parents are reading or watching and you will find the root of the problem. That is the primary reason underlying our failure to produce and add on to the gains of our fore-parents or those gone before us. That is why we are fighting the same fights as our parents and their parents…
If all we watch is ignorance and foolishness, then who is going to tell our children differently? Better yet, whom will they respect? The answer is nobody.
We must make a conscious effort to educate ourselves by reading, and passing on the habit of reading to our children.
To reading is to feed the mind, it’s therapeutic, it’s enlightening, educational, informational and entertaining… Most of all it’s revolutionary.
Let reading be like breathing, and let us guide the younger generation to become readers and subsequent leaders. If you read you will know, if you know you will grow.
Aleuta —The struggle continues