Are we being Educated or Trained?

“One of the great tragedies of modern education is that most people are not taught to think critically. The majority of the world’s people, those of the West included, are taught to believe rather than to think. It’s much easier to believe than to think. People seldom think seriously about that which we are taught to believe, because we are all creatures of imitation and habit.” -Haki R. Madhubuti

Notes from classes February 9th and 16th:

First statement to consider- True or False: “You have to work harder to succeed in life because you are black.” FALSE. This statement insinuates that it is a problem to be black. As a result, children are then being trained to attack the blackness.

Story Time: My current English 102 Professor, Dr. Baruti Kopano, had a previous student of his come to him in order to confide in him about the naming of her son:
“I want to give my son an African middle name! What do you feel about that?”  My professor ecstatically looked as her and asked, “Wow! Are you pregnant?” The student frowned. “No”. He chuckled, “Well are you planning on having a child anytime soon?” The student replied sharply, “Oh no, not until I’m married.” My professor’s curiosity grew and he further inquired why his student would particularly choose an African middle name. “Well, if I give him an African first name his employers will assume that he is black and he will have a harder time being hired.”

When hearing this story and discussing it further in my class, I realized that there are two unfortunate yet very important results of this conversion: 1) This student had basically doom her future son to grow up with the mentality of being fearful of the idea of being black. And 2) She already assumed that her future sons employers would all be white, and that he would have to fight to get a job instead of possibly being the boss himself. Thus being filled with the mindset that young black men will be nothing but unsuccessful.

So many young black folk, as supported by Madhubuti’s essay Not Knowing and Not Wanting to Know, which discusses the topic of white students being educated but black students being trained, are being reinforced with the idea that being black being means being unsuccessful.

“The major piece of information I absorbed after twelve years of public education was that I was a problem, inferior, uneducable, and a victim. And, as a victim, I began to see the world through the eyes of a victim.” Through public education it becomes evident how students aren’t being educated on critical thinking, and going deep but rather, students are being trained in answering questions a certain way and skim the surface. To paraphrase the last section of Madhubuti’s essay regarding the model and toy airplane. The white boy received the model airplane which flies (“correct” education) while the black boy received the toy airplane which didn’t fly (training). The white boy doesn’t have to put together the airplane as it is already assembled for him.

This poses another question: Why does the white boy receive “correct” education but not the black boy receive training?
Answer: White Supremacy

Now, if we return to our previous statement, we can rewrite it- “You have to work harder to succeed in life because of white supremacy.” TRUE. This statement then insinuates that white supremacy is a problem. As a result, children can now learn to attack white supremacy.

“The masses of the people are socialized… BE WOKE!”
-Dr. Baruti Kopano. 02/16/17


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