Education vs. Training: The Vie for Power Continues
“When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.”
–Carter G. Woodson
If you control the mind, you will control the man. I’m sure we’d like to believe we are in control of our own minds, but are we really? Who selects the books we read in elementary school, middle school, and high school? Who selects the history lessons we will learn in social studies, American History or even African American History? What effect, if any, does that have on us and the way we think? The way we respond to stimuli?
For the past several weeks, I have been teaching a group of Black boys between the ages of 5 and 12 years old the Art of Public Speaking. As a culmination of their studies, they will be featured in a virtual production honoring the great thinkers, teachers, and leaders of Black History: A TIME TO SPEAK. During our sessions, I became aware that their schools were not teaching them Black History during February or any other month for that matter; and any knowledge they had related to their history came from home and NOT school. I wonder what kind of impact such an omission will have collectively on our children. What is the intent of the educational system for leaving such important information out of the curriculum? I think it is connected to controlling the man through the mind and training the children verses educating them.
Na’im Akbar, in Know Thyself, distinguishes the difference between education and training by using the analogy of a dog.
The dog that learns how to bark to scare away its enemies (predators), to defend itself by biting its attackers and to hunt and to feed itself is an educated dog. The dog that learns how to stand on its hind legs and wear a dress and dance to the music of its trainer is actually a trained dog. Despite how impressive the dancing dog may appear to the human observer, this dog has been trained away from its nature (p. 2).
Are we trained or educated? Who controls what we see on TV, on the news, at the movies? We may press a button on a remote control, but we have just recently gotten to the place where we see more positive representation of Blacks in the media, and that's largely due to streaming platforms and social media. Even still, too many images of blacks in the media are deliberately destructive in some fashion.
Our minds are influenced (at least) and controlled (at most) by media—one of many silent killers having its way with our people. It affects the way the masses perceive us and the way we perceive ourselves. In fact, propaganda through the media has played a huge role in creating the myths of black inferiority/white superiority that too many unfortunately hold dear to. And in spite of the success of The Cosby Show, A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Family Matters, (some of my favorite sitcoms from the 90s) the conditioning and brainwashing we experienced as a nation to justify slavery in America has not been reversed completely.
Who has control? Who controls the heat in your place of residence? Your water? Your electricity? The (quality of) food delivered to your neighborhood grocery store? Yes, we may pay bills, but we don’t control the utility services. Such resources are instruments of power that's outside of our personal jurisdiction. We don’t control these things, but rest assured-someone else does. And as immoral as it would be to withhold the aforementioned resources from American citizens, one cannot deny the possibility of such occurrences as an act of war in a time of war (or peace for that matter). And the recent world events over the past year should have showed us just how powerless of a position we are in. Who controls what’s in the syringe you allow the doctor to inject into your child when they are infants? What’s in the canned formula you mix with processed water to feed your child? What about the contents of the vaccines so many people are lining up to receive?
We cry “Black Power” and “Power to the People,” but do we have power? If so, why are we not using it? Why are we still in the state of continued oppression? If we don’t have power, how can we get it?
I like to use the example of the werewolf. The werewolf is a powerful creature that looks like a human being; but transforms into an animal when the moon is full. The werewolf is unable to control his actions after the transformation and unable to remember them once the daylight returns. The animal is powerful. Absent control, however, it becomes a detriment to itself. More basically speaking, the werewolf is a creature bound to the whims of external forces. Such externalities control the man. In a similar way, there are those of us who have much power but little control. When certain buttons are pressed, our reactions can be predicted. Stimuli, then is manipulated so that such a person’s (predictable) responses will be used against them. Parallel to the Manchurian Candidate, such people are so easily influenced by the media and societal happenings that it appears as though they are under a spell… a mind control experiment negatively affected by social engineering.
I will assert for the purposes of this series that we as a people have power—the most power. Instead of using it to help ourselves, though, it is being used to help our enemies. We do not have control over how our power is being used. We are either not using it, misusing it, misplacing it, or mishandling it (by handing it over) because of the way we were trained. Prime example: when a Black man woman or child dies at the hand of a white police officer, what is our typical response? We peacefully protest. We cry on camera. We plead that the justice system work in our favor. When a Black child dies at the hand of another Black person, in addition to there being sadness there is also the desire for revenge. We don’t look for help or assistance from police officers or from the justice system. We take the law in our own hands and kill the Black person who killed the Black child. We use our power against ourselves . I assert that we are trained to respond this way. I also assert that this must shift as we blaze into this new age.