For over 100 years, since Black people have been free from physical slavery, we have been both the victims as well as the co-conspirators in a condition of mental slavery. These mental chains are reinforced by images produced by the media. For over 100 years, since Black people have been free from physical slavery, we have been both the victims as well as the co-conspirators in a condition of mental slavery. These mental chains are reinforced by images produced by the media. From the black and white minstrels (1830A.D. -1978), Black exploitation films of the 60's and 70's to the gansta rap in the twenty first century, all of these images act to deride and debase the dignity and humanity of Black people. These negative images keep Black people in a perpetual state of mental servitude. We become the slaves to the merchandisers who make billions of dollars to bring us temporary relief from our low self-esteem about who we are as a people. These merchants provide us with other people's hair to glue on our heads, make up, flashy clothes, expensive jewelry and fine cars that many of us cannot afford. This low self-esteem translates into poor academic performance of our children in school which results in a reduction in our economic and political potential as a people. At least one solution to battle this "tricknology" is to use the same medium that keeps us in this mental state of enslavement to free our African minds. The media can be used to provide Black people with positive images of our possibilities.
If the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true, then I believe that Black people have been given, over the past few weeks, some of the most powerful, positive and influential images that can begin to free our African minds. We have been provided, through the power of the media, with some extraordinary images that can shape our beliefs of our possibilities and, therefore, our destiny.
The first image comes from a movie that I would highly recommend that everyone see, "The Great Debaters". This movie is about a small, almost obscure, Black college by the name of Wiley College, that in 1935 consistently and decisively beat both black and white colleges in what the star Denzel Washington describes as a "blood sport"- debate. Yes that's right. Not the stereotypical Black dominated sports like football, basketball or boxing. Debate is an intellectual contest where the weapons of choice are words. In the movie the Black debaters from little known Wiley College were so good that they took on the reputed bastion of intellectual prowess, Harvard University, and won.
The second powerful image is of presidential candidate Barack Obama's ascendance over the past week to become the front runner of all of the Democratic contestants for the highest political office in America, the presidency of the United States. Senator Obama's victory speech on Thursday, January 3, 2008- which can be viewed on Youtube.com, was historic, inspirational and most importantly, sent an extraordinary message to the psyche of Black people of what is possible. On Saturday, January 5, 2008- as in the movie "The Great Debaters," Senator Obama, along with 3 other candidates for president of the United States, engaged in a battle of intellect and words. From all accounts Senator Obama emerged out of that intellectual contest as "the greatest debater."
Even though the setting for the movie "The Great Debaters" and the campaign of Senator Barack Obama are separated by almost 70 years there are some striking similarities that should be noted. First, both the movie as well as Senator Obama, emphasizes the power of hope and beliefs.
In the movie young James Farmer is asked by his dad who is a prominent minister and professor at Wiley College "what is the greatest weakness of man?" Fourteen-year-old James Farmer answered "the greatest weakness of man is disbelief." Throughout the movie it is the belief in God and their belief in their god-giv