36. The Mis-Education of the Negro…Continues

Posted: July 27, 2009 in African American, Black Pride, Education
Tags: ,

miseducationThe majority of our readers consider themselves to be highly educated, regardless of whether or not that education has yielded some form of post secondary matriculation.  I have personally met a number of folks who don’t possess degrees from various colleges or universities, but are quite effective contributing to the world of academia.  In other words, some of the most brilliant minds to walk the face of the earth are without fancy degrees.

In 1933, Carter G. Woodson penned a book entitled The Mis-Education of the Negro.  The central focus of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools. This conditioning, he claimed, caused African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part.

Anyone who knows me know that I am a strong proponent of formal education.  However, this blog is not so much about those without formal educational training, but rather directed at those with it. 

It has become increasingly apparent to me that many of us have been blinded by our Bachelors, Masters, Specialists and Doctorate degrees.  We display the suffixed credentials on our business cards sometimes as long as our first and last names combined.  Not unlike the message taught by my brother from 1933, many of us card-carrying Negro graduates have been fooled into thinking that we have arrived someplace special.

hbcu graduates

Don’t misunderstand me, I applaud anyone who has the diligence, fortitude and perseverance to obtain a post-secondary degree, but I’m just equally appalled by the number of us who make the mistake of thinking we are better than those who have not.

Many of us would agree that at least 50% of what we learned did not stay with us (some would argue 75%).  Somewhere along the line, big mamma’nem told us that if we went to college we would be sure to have a good job.   Big mamma gave good advice, but that advice is truly outdated.

Without continuous education and training your degree is almost obsolete within two years of receipt.  No wonder there are so many degree’d folks that have a hard time finding and maintaining employment they feel is commensurate with their mystical piece of paper. If you don’t have critical skills in various disciplines you won’t be able to compete in today’s workforce.  I know several people who work day jobs, while performing side hustles like flipping real estate, selling Mary Kay, doing hair, graphic design, or whatever.  These folks understand that their degree is simply an entry point into the workforce but will not guarantee them income they truly desire.

It is of no surprise that the folks who either weren’t afforded post high school opportunities or decided against it are often outperforming those who did go to college.  We have politicians, businessmen, artists – all without the mystical piece of paper, that understand the importance of hard work, perseverance and are continuously reinventing themselves in order to stay competitive.

Short story shorter, our thinking is being controlled by a false sense of accomplishment and the fallacy of having arrived at a destination.  Although there are many milestones along the way, an education was never intended to be a destination.

I conclude this blog with an excerpt from Dr. Woodson’s book:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

If you haven’t read the book, please do yourself a favor and delve into it.  Your personal development CEU’s (continuing education units) await you.  To help you out, click the book cover above and go straight to Amazon; you can get a used copy as cheap at $3.99; or you can support black business by purchasing from African American Images.  Now you have no excuse.

D’s 2cents,


  1. Jamaal says:

    This is a side that I haven’t contemplated. I always thought people with degrees were just a little brighter than those without. This helps me to know that I am not inferior just because my life didn’t go in that direction. Thanks for sharing.

    Jamaal S.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice blog. You have a clever way of spinning topics. Very interesting perspective. I don’t have my degree yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing what I gotta do to
    take care of my family.


  3. Big Mary says:

    I consider myself a well educated person and still long for more education. However, I have to constantly and consciously remind myself that it is not my education that defines me. It is my morality, character and God’s love within me that helps to define who and what I am. When people ask me what I do for a living (I practice in a specialized field), I have to force myself to speak the words of my profession, because I don’t want people to think of me in terms of my professional or educational successes. I have known many people throughout my life that have held prestigious degrees but lacked the ability to show morality, character and even the ability to think. I have also known many intelligent people without the validation of the much prized degree. Thanks for letting me share!

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