Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Mis-Education of You

Who am I not to..
The Mis-Education of You

In 1933, historian and father of the study of African American History, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, wrote The Mis-Education of the Negro.

In it, Dr. Woodson argued that schools were not teaching African Americans; instead “negroes,” as we were called then, were being indoctrinated to be second class citizens in the very country they helped build.

As you might imagine, this was incredibly radical. Dr. Woodson was the son of former slaves. Education was highly valued in his family. His father had moved Woodson and his siblings to West Virginia to find a school for them.

Dr. Woodson was the second African American to earn a doctorate, and he did it at Harvard. It goes without saying that education was important to him, but Woodson saw a distinct difference between education and indoctrination.

At the age of 12, my mother had to drop out of school. At 12 she also learned that her grandparents were not her real parents that her mother, a woman she believed to have been “some white friend of the family,” had come to take her away from the people who had loved and raised her. (My grandmother Caroline was not white, but could and is believed to have often “passed” as white.)

My grandmother Caroline sent my mother to work and so her formal education ended. Still, my mother yearned to learn and “know things about things,” as she put it.

She was an avid reader and when she came across Dr. Woodson’s treaty on mis-education, it became a guide for her education and a source for the correction of me and my siblings.

“You are just building the back door,” my mother would often chide whenever any of her children did something that she believed was against our own self-interest.

As a child, I had no idea what she was talking about, but years later when I read The Mis-Education of The Negro for myself, I came to see her full intent.

"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."

Dr. Woodson’s treaty can and must be applied to all God’s children because we are all being mis-educated about our own selves.

We are allowing others to tell us who we are and who we can be. We have been limited in our own thinking and our own story.

We have been telling ourselves that we are not capable and we are not powerful.

We have come to believe that we have no say in any matter and nothing can or will ever change.

The story we have been telling is not true, but we have come to believe in the validity of it because Santa Clause, the Care Bears and Wall Street told us so.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson~ A Return To Love


Be you, be bold, be knowing

Bertice Berry, PhD.


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