DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: BLACKS DON’T READ – CAN WE TALK ABOUT IT?

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with the article title, let’s get started.

I know this may ruffle a few feathers, but I have to speak on it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the urban myth before, as it relates to Black people and reading, which states: “If you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book (or “write it down”).

I know…I know…you want to argue me down and tell me how Black people aren’t a monolith, and that this urban myth about Black folks is condescending because Black people are not all the same. I get it…I get it…but can we talk about it?

It frustrates the hell out of me to think how easily manipulated people are in this country, particularly when it comes to the mainstream media and select groups pushing the “narrative of the day” in our faces and forcing our minds to regularly accept false narratives.

Honestly, it seems like every single day some new narrative is concocted so as to shift our attention away from the things that truly matter, as well as critical issues that are more important.

Think about it for a minute!

Have we heard anything substantive about the status of Trump and his administration regarding the Russia political-meddling investigation? What about this White domestic terrorist who recently committed an act of terror, carrying out the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history? What about the injustice in the justice system, regarding police brutality and murder? What about the bold defiance and calculated violence of White supremacists in this country and their infiltration of law enforcement per the FBI report?

There are so many other major issues that tend to get swept under the rug, because the mainstream media and those who seek to sway public opinion know that the average human attention span is only eight seconds. Once you get people’s attention away from something, it is hard for them to remember or go back to it, unless they are reminded about it.

That is why I encourage people to read and do their own research. As a Black person in America, I especially find this to be true as it relates to my people.

As I look at the way we have collectively allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep in America, with this feeling of “post-racial” equality and diversity, simply because of a few Constitutional amendments, several pieces of Civil Rights legislation and because America elected the first Black president, I’d venture to say that the urban myth is more truth than fiction.

Aren’t we sick and tired of being bamboozled, hoodwinked, tricked, swindled, manipulated, short-changed, oppressed, lied to and lied on, all because we didn’t take the time to research and educate ourselves concerning things that could’ve helped us avoid being put in harm’s way?

I have seen so many Black folks drink the social and political “kool-aid” in a way that rivals Jim Jones, and his ability to persuade his cult followers to drink the “kool-aid”, only to be led to a swift and absolute demise.

Say what you want about this long running stereotype about our people, but the truth of the matter remains, the majority of us trust too easy and tend to rely on other people to do the research for us and then come back and tell us what we need and what we should want.

That is so baffling to me. But let’s be honest. Would you agree that we collectively rely on other people to provide us with key and critical information that is important to our daily lives and well-being? Would you agree that we collectively rely on other people to tell us who and what to vote for? Would you agree that we collectively entrust other people with the responsibility to educate our children and chronicle our rich and storied history – both pre- and post-slavery?

I can go on and on with my questions, but the truth is, our African American ancestors fought too hard and too long for us to obtain the freedom and rights to legally read and be properly educated, for us to have squandered it the way we have. Nowadays, it’s as if reading and properly educating ourselves have become collectively optional, versus a non-negotiable expectation, as it was for the majority of Black Americans prior to desegregation in the 1960s.

I know…I know…you want me to talk about other races too, because your argument is that this issue isn’t mutually exclusive to Black people. Hey listen…some people may take offense to this conversation, but it doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t important and worthy of discussion.

I know some of you are mad now, but let’s talk about it. Let me give you one of the best examples I can of the Black community’s collective dependence on other people for necessary and life-changing information, without doing much research, if any, on the subject matter themselves. Don’t shoot the messenger, but maybe this example will begin to show you how right I am about our current collectively reality and get you to start seeing things my way.

How many Black folks go to church, without a Bible, but willingly accept everything the minister or pastor says, just because it was a soul-stirring message that touched your soul, ministered to your heart and must have must’ve been genuine and true, because after all they are a minister of the gospel right? This is indicative of one of our collective problems as a people.

So listen up y’all! I’m always going to advocate for Black folks doing more reading, researching and educating of ourselves, while continuously being cognizant about what is going on around us. It makes my heart bleed to know that so many of us continuously fall victim to half-truths, lies and deception. It disturbs me equally that Black people continue to get shafted because of it.

I have seen so many of our people lose land, property, homes, investments, money, businesses, assets, children, and so much more, including their own rights and freedom, simply because they didn’t take the time to research and educate themselves properly. It truly sickens me to know that we’ve lost so much, especially after all that our ancestors fought for, simply because we’ve chosen to forsake something as important as properly educating ourselves.

Now, as I close, I know there are going to be some enablers who will provide excuses and attack me for being “too judgmental” or “condescending” towards our people and about our people.

But then again, I may not have anything to worry about. More than likely, many Black folks don’t read my writings anyway, so they probably won’t take the time to read this either.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com.