I was recently at a conference where a good friend of mine was speaking on a controversial subject. During his platform he raised a powerful question (which spurned this diatribe) “Why is it “Cool” for folks to be DUMB?! Where in the hell did that concept come from? Was it created by our leaders and generational thinkers or was it interjected into our communities by the forces in “real power”?
40 years ago it was en vogue to be intellectual and revolutionary. People like Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Cornell West, James Hal Cone, Henry Louis Gates & Toni Morrison were but a few in a land of many. They were part of the “norm” of idealist who were dead set on a higher learning of “self”. All of these individuals were well read, could write and blended in with the landscape of mainstream Black America as it was called. Because of this kind of regularity many of us (50’s and 60’s kids) grew up feeling it was our duty to carry the torch! On the “tele” were programs and commercials that encouraged reading (remember “Reading is Fundamental?). How about the book mobile that came around or low rent neighborhoods? I especially remember PBS programs like “School House Rock”!!!
But so much has changed…L
Now, as I travel around our beloved Nation and speak with High School students and Collegiate students most only seem to read what absolutely necessary to pass a class. The only recreational reading is the back of CD covers or gossip magazines (WTF?!!). Why, because if you get caught reading you will become completely ostracized from the “hip” crowd. In other words…”You’ll lose you SWAG”!! Hey, it’s not entirely their fault, mainstream TV and radio places value in “Dumbness”! The music industry practically begs them to be dumb. No more are there the fantastic lyrics of Curtis Blow, TuPac or KRS1. If you ain’t hustling and trying to get YOURS at all costs (YOU ARE SOFT). JayZ and Russell Simmons are fighting a losing cause but at least they are showing would be thinkers a proper blue print for survival. Russell has 2 powerful books “Do You” and “Super Rich”. JayZ is predicted to be among the giants in total wealth very soon! Yet, when I ask folks if they have bought or read one of Mr. Simmons’s books; they, look at me crossed eyed and reply, “who that guy who loves the chickens?”
So, what are the solutions? Here’s where I need your help. I have my beliefs as have so many before me but I want you to leave me a note below and tell me what YOU think we can or should do! Know this, we have not one moment of time to waste. As brother Ed Gordon recently pronounced on his show (on BET Sundays at 12PM) “because of our non involvement in the global economy, we have become a throw-a-way people”. We who were once King of Kings, masters of arts and sciences, physical and mental beings, now relegated to “A THROW A WAY PEOPLE”!