*Last night, I was watching my copy of the very important film, “Hoodwinked,” by Janks Morton.  I appear in the film, along with my respected colleagues, Drs. Marc Lamont Hill, Jawanza Kunjufu, Ivory Toldson and Steve Perry.

The film serves to debunk many of the ridiculous myths that black people perpetuate against one another, particularly those affecting black men.  For one thing, the film explores the notion that the black male high school dropout rate is nearly half, when in fact, it’s less than 10 percent.

Janks attributes much of the disparity to funny math that comes into play when a dropout is counted as someone who didn’t graduate with his/her cohort.   In many cases, black children either transfer to different schools or use a relative’s address to get away from the horrible inner city school in their district. Morton even shows that from 2006 – 2008, black females had a higher dropout rate than African American males.

We don’t want to celebrate anyone dropping out of high school and we certainly don’t want to add to the battle of the sexes between black men and black women.  The point is that black men are not nearly as sad and pathetic as many people would like to believe that we are.   Many of us are as productive, educated and conscientious as anyone else, no matter what President Obama said about us during his 2008 Father’s Day speech.

I enjoyed and appreciated what Janks was attempting to do with this film.  In many cases, we want to believe the absolute worst when it comes to black males.  Black men are sometimes treated as the rodents of our society, and no one wants a rodent to survive or even exist.  Some black women want to believe that all of us are either gay or running around with white women, and many white folks want to believe that we are all criminals.

I’ve never been gay, criminal or with a white woman, and neither have most of my friends.  So, for those who feel the need to project venom toward the image of the black male in America, you must realize that in order to be the creator of this kind of venom, your mind may have been poisoned as well.   That’s where brainwashing causes you to hate people who look like yourself.

“Hoodwinked” excited me because when I saw Marc, Steve, Ivory and Jawanza using their vast intellectual skills to protect other black men, I swelled up with pride, like an intellectual warrior standing alongside his brothers waging war against ignorance on the battlefield.  Black men have the ability to work together and do great things, whether it’s on the basketball court or in the classroom.  When we stick together, we usually defeat all enemies great and small.  The key is remembering to fight with our minds instead of our fists.

A new day is coming in black America. With the democratization of media that has occurred via the Internet, films like “Hoodwinked” can surpass the large, white media distribution companies and share messages with the black community that are more accurate to our purpose.   We can find out who we really are and share genuine love and support for one another.  In other words, we get to define and celebrate the vast potential that lies within our greatness, and we are no longer going to continue to be hoodwinked into thinking that we are inferior.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

boyce watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins