*Comedian Paul Mooney once said ‘everybody wants to be black, but nobody wants to be black.’ While his play on words are humorous and ironic, they appear to be dead on when it comes to the psychological effects racism has had on the entire country since its founding.
With the election of an African American president some, including the president himself, had dreamed of a new era that was given the name “post-racial,” in which men and women could truly be judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin. Lo and behold, that era has yet to dawn.
In fact, racism appears to be festering under the societal surface now more than ever. Author Tom Burrell feels that part of problem is half of American does not know, and the other half does not want to talk about the roots of the black inferiority myth in America today.
In his book “Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority,” Burrell tries to get the discussion started.
“This book is about how America was sold a bill of goods,” Burrell told EURweb.com. “How America was sold a big lie, the myth of Black Inferiority. It was a myth that had to be fostered in order to be used to justify slavery in the midst of a democracy as this nation was being formed. It was a dilemma of the time, how do you have slavery, which is about bondage, and democracy, which is somewhat about freedom. Those two things just do not cut it together.
“There were many people that felt democracy could not exist without the institution of slavery,” he continued. “Then somebody came up with this million dollar idea. Let’s just say that these people who don’t look like us are not human. If we can sell America on the inferiority of these people as human beings then we can justify enslaving them inside a democracy.”
And so it began, the subjection and systematic dehumanizing of an entire race of people. Though the experiment is, for the most part, over its effects continue to ripple down through time and space.
“It was a brilliant idea from a marketing perspective, but, of course, it was a devastating idea not only for black people but for America and as we went into the civil war,” Burrell explained to our Lee Bailey. “And many, many painful years after that. But that’s the beginning of the most effective marketing campaign of all time. How it was sold was based upon propaganda in the media as the media was being developed. From the Bible, to academics, to the enlightened thinkers, all the way to pamphlets and newspapers. Then electronic media and all of the paraphernalia that was involved as well. Whether it be salt and pepper shakers, the banks or whatever. Packages, everything was designed to reinforce the idea that black people were inferior.”
Here we go again with that dreaded word, media. It is a divisive term when it comes to race relations because some just can’t see how it relates to the world’s image of black people. But to others it is quite obvious. Burrell, and we at EURweb.com, are among those others.
“The thing that makes any marketing campaign successful is that if you come up with a strategy that is clear and that everybody can understand and you consistently sell it. I mean, nobody sold us on ugliness because we had sliver thin lips,” he said. “They were always thick. Nobody came up with the idea of black people eating cantaloupe. It was always watermelon. It was always the big eyes while, some of us through different tribes, had eyes that were almost slits. But the fact that it was always consistent throughout the centuries caused them to have us over a barrel so to speak because it’s easier to indoctrinate people when they are stripped away from their moorings, from their culture, from their people. We were a blank check waiting to be filled out. That’s why it was more successful here than it would have been in Africa because we were on a strange turf.”
When the term racism is brought up we usually use it in regard to how a person of another race is treating African Americans. But it would seem that blacks are, in a face to face and on a day to day basis, more racist towards one another than most modern day whites will ever be. “You black this,” “you big lipped that,” “you African-looking…” etc. Some of these words may be said in jest, but their deeper meaning is indicative of a psychological problem. This, according to Burrell, is because of systematic, ongoing, brainwashing of African Americans.
“One of the things about this whole concept of black inferiority is we basically walk around as African Americans really believing the hype, having bought into this concept of black inferiority. So, when it is not explained to us, how we got to be at the top of the bad list and at the bottom of the good list, why we kill each other, why we allow ourselves to be sexual objects or sexual predators depending on the agenda, why we can’t get our families together, why fathers can’t take care of their kids, why do we laugh when the joke’s on us, why do we laugh at our on degradation, why are we bred to be led? Why do all of these things exist? If nobody explains it to us then we basically believe that maybe it’s true. Maybe it is better to go to a white lawyer or a white doctor, maybe it is something wrong with black people?”
Tom Burrell is not originally an author. He is a man that is quite well off after making a living in advertising and marketing for over 40 years. He didn’t have to write a book for any kind of notoriety, but he says one day the proverbial seals fell from his eyes and he began to see some things for what they truly were.
“When you see something it’s difficult to walk away from,” he explained. “I started to say ‘Why are all these people spending all this money to buy all this stuff?’ Then I hypothesized ‘It’s because we live in a society based upon stuff. And we want to be somebody and the best way to be somebody is to buy somebody-ness.’ What’s that mean? Those obvious ways that we can show that we are somebody. I noticed high instances of buying things that are symbolic. The car, the status symbol, it’s mobile, you can pull up in front of the church or the joint and you’re carrying your status with you. We saw the high instances of any product that had to do with cleanliness. From dishes to car deodorizes to disinfectants to soaps and laundry detergents. Why are we so preoccupied with cleanliness? We’re trying to buy our status as human beings that were told, systematically, that we were dirty. So, anyway that we can show the world that we’re not dirty, we’re striving towards. Grease those knees! Scrub that face! Get that hair all nice and neat and braided up. Wash your clothes, not just with detergent that cleans your clothes, but wash with something that has the odor that says to everybody you come in contact with ‘Boy, he sure is clean. Because I can smell him!'”
Sure, it’s relatively easy for some egghead to right a book telling of all the problems that he sees in the world. But, at the end of the day, what goes does a book really do? Burrell feels his book lays out plans to help reverse these centuries old trends.
“In every chapter, from dealing with relationships, like ‘Why Are Our Relationships Always Shipwrecks,’ to ‘Neo-Coons: Why’s the Joke Always On Us?’ ‘Bred to Be Led,’ ‘Disunity,’ ‘Buy Now Pay Later,’ we talk about all of these things and provide solutions to all of these things especially as it relates to media and the role of propaganda within the media. What we are putting out there is that it was the media, and the role of propaganda within that media, that got us into this fix. And, thanks to technology, we can use the new media to get us out of it through positive propaganda.
“We’re basically waging a campaign against how we see ourselves. It has nothing to do about how other people see or think about us. It’s like the elephant going around tied to a wheel. He just circles around and if racism ended tomorrow we’d still be circling around even though the rope had been cut.”
Books have been written before, some about this very same subject. “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson comes to mind and, while educating many, it brought about no real change overall. Perhaps the world wasn’t ready then, but Burrell feels the world may be ready now.
“I am more hopeful now than ever. There’s the pendulum theory of how, given the nature to be abusive human, nature doesn’t know anything about moderation. It’s gotten to such an extent now that it’s so extreme that we have to respond. The book is the beginning, it’s not the step. The book is a power tool by which to go to the next level. The last chapter is ‘Yes We Must.’ Once people understand what’s happening, that’s the beginning of the healing. The problem of learned helplessness is something that we have to combat from the cradle through pre-school.”
Tom Burrell’s “Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority” is currently at Amazon.com and other stores now.