I want to thank you so much for taking the time to write me. Nothing is more gratifying to a writer than knowing that his message is being received.
As I read your email I couldn’t help but think how much you sound like myself. When I was younger I too felt misunderstood. Then as I got older I began to understand the reason why – because I WAS misunderstood. Fortunately, I had been cursed with the blessing of intelligence, just as you clearly are, but unfortunately, gross ignorance is the coin of America’s realm. The powers that be have a vested interest in promoting stupidity as cute in this country, and we are bombarded with that message from the time we open our eyes in the morning, until we close them at night.
How many times have you seen the image of the young intellectual portrayed as a Steve Urkel-type character, while the dimwitted captain of the football team is portrayed as a lady-killing macho man? Then think about John Wayne. His character is, without a doubt, the biggest dummy who ever rode across the Texas plains. Yet, he’s portrayed as the quintessential American male. There’s a good reason for that – because a nation full of citizens who worship ignorance is much easier to control, and whenever there’s a person with your level of intelligence who can see through the mass manipulation of the people, the very people who you are trying to enlighten will bring tremendous group pressure down on you to shut you up.
But as bad as that is, the pressure to remain ignorant is even more pronounced in the Black community. Within our community we are held to what amounts to a moral obligation to be stupid in order to maintain our credibility as a being loyal to the Black race. That comes from our experience under slavery. During slavery the only Black people that the average field slave knew who spoke proper English was the house slave, and many house slaves tended to look down on those who worked in the fields. So Black people came to associate Black people who spoke proper English, and who had knowledge and intelligence, with Uncle Tomism, or as “trying to be White.” And unfortunately, that also created a mind-set that caused us to believe that knowledge is the White man’s domain. That’s why you have young hip hoppers walking around purposely trying to destroy the English language – “What it be like?” – because they see ignorance as cool.
So Richard, a young brother like yourself who is fortunate enough to have the innate intelligence to see through this, have the closest thing to a moral obligation to combat this kind of ignorance. You don’t have to run your head up against a brick wall, but use your intelligence to find ways to send the message that knowledge is cool. I notice that you’re a very good writer. Take the time to hone that skill. You can not only help the community, but you can gain both notoriety and independence. And, continue your education at all cost, but don’t wait for the school to educate you. Begin right now, to educate yourself. The internet is a repository of all of man’s collective knowledge, so use it to explore those areas of knowledge that interest you as an individual, because you are unique. No one alive, or no one has ever lived sees, or have seen, reality in exactly the same way that you do, so for all know, you could be the one who can connect the dots like no one ever has before. So keep this email, and re-read from time to time.
Finally, thanks again for writing me, my man, and keep in touch. I want to see where you go with this – If I’ve created a monster, I want to know about it.
- Eric Wattree
Exploding the Myth: The Impact Of the Black Experience on This Black Man
On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 2:15 PM, Richard King Wrote:
I came across your blog from thyblackman.com and get your articles sent to my email at work. I indeed am a brother working towards a better tomorrow for myself and my people. There were times I felt discouraged, but reading your articles have given me hope to continue on for our people. It wasn’t long ago that I was a child and older black men would tell me how things were and how I should strive to be better when I grow up. I now am an adult and realize very much so what they meant by that. I feel like I’m here cause of the hard work they put in before me. It saddens me now that I’m grown to see the condition the vast majority of our people are in, and I feel somewhat like I’m condoning it if I’m fellowshipping with them in the foolishness. I’m 31, in school part time and work full time, I hate the effects of some rap music on our people and especially our youth who recite these destructive lyrics like its “hood scripture” and for some it is. When I’m with friends or even relatives I feel like I have to dumb myself down just to be accepted cause if I speak on the condition of our people then I’m called some conspiracy theorist etc. Despite their ridicule, I slowly distance myself from their stupidity and ignorance and submerge myself in work. It’s hard to find likeminded individuals who are into discussing ideas and current events instead of pop culture etc.
Some say I give off a “dry, non-chalant” demeanor, but I just be silent if I don’t have anything good to say, despite trying to keep quiet I often fall short and end up giving whomever a piece of my mind. It feels like I’m just now starting to “grow up” and I can’t be mad that others aren’t doing it at the same pace or even at all. Just wanted to let you know Mr. Wattree that I always look forward to your essays and articles and you give plenty food for thought and just know that your words reached me all the way in Cleveland, Ohio and I use a lot of your readings to stimulate thought and debate amongst our people. I’m not sure if it was you or Dr. Watkins who wrote on the 12 years a slave bandwagon and on how white producers profited off the film and asking did any of the profits go to the black community? That alone set a fire inside of me and allowed me to look at the bigger picture, cause before that I’d probably would’ve been just another consumer running to the theatre to see a perceived piece of history about our past. I like how you stimulate the reader to think and think outside the box, keep doing what you’re doing.