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Mis-Education of the Masses
4/17/2013 3:00:59 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali


   Dr. Carter G. Woodson is known for many things in the world of intellectual Blackness. The thinking Blackman’s Blackman, the second “botha” man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, was something else, in more ways than one, as the old cliché goes.

   He’s the originator who established Negro History Week in 1926, which has blossomed into Black History Month. He was also the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

   I was thinking respectfully of Dr. Woodson, who died in 1950 at age 74, and his notable opinions about Black life. He wrote many books and scholarly articles but I remember him best for his classic piece entitled “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” published in 1933.

   As I reflect upon this radiant scholar, I think of his deep thoughts in this literary archetypal gem and how they are still relevant today. In this luminous book, he revealed his thoughts about the mental condition of people of color that are still pervasive and timely today.

   I’d like to take you back into Dr. Woodson’s mind and view his some of his printed words to evidence how provocative and timely his keen insight was and still is. If you’re an ethnic realist in understanding and evaluating current modernistic racial standards, you’ll see that Dr. Woodson’s acumen sheds light on what many of the masses of Black folk still face today.

   In a chapter from his book called “Dissention and Weakness,” Dr. Woodson said, “Religious schools have been established, but they are considered necessary to workers for denominational outposts by the Baptists, (who) hope to outstrip the Methodists or the latter the former.

   “No teacher in one of these schools has advanced a single thought which has become a working principle in Christendom, and not one of these centres (sic) is worthy of a school of theology. If one would bring together all of the teachers in such schools and carefully sift through them, he would not find in the whole group a sufficient number qualified to conduct one accredited school of religion. The large majority of them are engaged in imparting to the youth worn-out theories of the ignorant oppressor.”


   That was some sharp commentary from one of our greatest thinkers and researchers, and I hope that you don’t view what I’m writing and what Dr. Woodson said as some sort of biased attack on anyone’s particular religious tradition(s).  If you do, then it’s simply not the case because the realities of Black life are the same in the present, in many ways, just as they were in 1933.

    In general, as I think about Dr. Woodson’s prolific observations of the Negro’s life back then, I see similarities between his analyses of the “then” with the parallel of what’s happening “now.” In my observant scrutiny, all that Dr. Carter G Woodson was attempting to do was to break down the systemic and pathetic ignorance(s) that keep our people tied like “sheeple” to “The Mis-Education of the Masses.”                     

   Before I go on, I’d like to clarify that when I used the street word “sheeple,” I’m referring to any group of people, who are led like sheep to mental and educational slaughter. This slow process of self-destruction is usually done through the receipt of the institutional codified lies, academic myths and racist falsehoods by “some” of our folks that makes them appear to be culturally and academically inferior.

   That’s (not) strong wordage from or for me to declare in today’s world of techno-cyber knowledge, because Dr. Woodson’s analysis of what had been done to the ordinary Negro’s thinking about himself, again, stands the litmus test of looking at racial contradictions in today’s America if is truly what it says it’s supposed to be about in terms of fair treatment for all. (Think!)

   On that thought, I’d like to like to share something else with you from “Mis-Education of the Negro” that brings another glaring reality about the condition of the Negro’s spiritual mind-set, both then and now. Dr. Woodson wrote, “This lack of qualified teachers in Negro schools of theology, however, is the fault of the teachers themselves. It is due to the system they belong (to).” (Reflect closely about as you view today’s U.S.A.)

   Even though Dr. Woodson’s incisive outlooks that I’m currently using are from his thoughts on the problems that religions, e.g., play in “colored” folk  coming together back then, they still hold merit in today’s African-American inner religious sanctums and circles and beyond, no matter what a soul “brotha’s” or “sista’s” professed faith may be called or labeled.

   Please think about that. Dr. Carter G. Woodson offered more insight into this penetrating dilemma of self-identification in the African-American consciousness by saying, and I quote, “Yet those who see how they have failed because of these things, nevertheless, object to the unification of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they have all but ceased to follow because of their sectarian bias obtained from thumb-worn books of misguided Americans and Europeans.”

   Today’s Black America has so many issues of divisions and separations from what religion are you to what type of skin color is “really” beautiful to complications of one’s sexuality, etc., until it’s not amusing. In fact, it’s a shameful fiasco if you ask me because, in and for a large segment today’s inner city “colored” masses, it’s about (them) being lost and forgotten in an invisible state of marginalized permanent second-class citizenship in today’s U.S.A.

  That’s why when you truly digest Dr. Woodson’s “Mis-Education of the Negro,” you’ll see many “his-storical” similarities which many of today’s disenfranchised “colored” masses continually face without any particular reference to whatever ethnic label they may called themselves. And that includes all who are Black, African-American, Negro, “colored,” Afro-Caribbean or “multi-racial,” or whatever they call themselves, with no exceptions to the fact that should reminds us (all) that Blackness comes in (all) shades.

   You and I, along with everyone else in creation, from all the land masses of the world, are all still descendants of the original folks from the Motherland. Never forget that Blackness comes in all the shades of universal studious origin. Dr. Woodson didn’t.

   Somehow, if that basic premise was understood by the “masses,” then the possibilities of unity and respect among us today would be visible for everyone to see and feel. “The Mis-Education of the Masses” would no longer be a lingering scourge in our community.

   With the greatest deference to Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s noble effort to bring universal consciousness to our people, I say that we must make unity and respect more than words written in books. I think “Dr. G” would love that from us today, because true education encompasses all aspects of learning, including the spiritual and mental spheres of existences.

   For today and always, remember that Black unity and positive self-awareness should exist every day of the year in the hearts and minds of ebony tutored souls. Observing and knowing that with prideful honor is the first step in eliminating “The Mis-Education of the Masses” from our mind-sets, and that’s, “As I See It.”

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