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The less Blacks are involved in national dialogue, the weaker our influence

The Bible teaches us that life and death lie within the power of the tongue. In the secular vernacular, we learned that the pen is mightier than the sword. It has been true forever and will remain an unmitigated fact that words are the most powerful force of influence in intelligent society.

Why was it so important, even punishable by death, to teach enslaved people to read and write? The evil minds that concocted America’s greatest debacle were aware from the beginning that their stereotypical portrayal of those emanating from the Africana Diaspora was blatantly false.

Their greatest fear was that given the opportunity, these men and women kidnapped from their mother continent, would rise to, and exceed, levels of intellect among people anywhere. This was quickly validated during reconstruction when educated African Americans rose to prominence in Congress.

Clearly, once Blacks grasped the language, it was no longer possible to force shackles on their minds, to control their thought process or limit their imagination.

Blacks became successful educators, entrepreneurs, craft persons, clergy, entertainers, builders, medical and legal professionals, engineers, scientists, government leaders, journalists and powerful advocates for social justice.

Literacy changed the game. It is far more difficult to imprison intellect than physical being.

There is a reason there is such vicious rejection of library books and school curriculums that convey the truth about the existence of people of African origins. Yes, it is in part designed to dismiss the reality that Blacks built this nation. It is in part the fact that white America knows their reality is disgraceful. But there is more.

It’s not just the past that those proponents of ignorance and illiteracy fight to erase. It is the collective effort to negate the possibilities of the future, not only for children of color who might see their entire possibilities differently if they learn the richness of their heritage, but also for young white children who, given the truth, might approach their attitudes about race and equity with a more collaborative open mind. It is a threat to the status quo.

It is common knowledge that whenever there is a revolution in a country, those rising to power first seize all means of communication. That may include radio and television stations. It may include access to social media. It will invariably include books, newspapers and publications of all kinds. Once again, the object is to control the manner in which the masses think and act by the impact of words. Powerful words.

Don Lemon was undoubtedly the most prominent face on CNN until this week. After 17 years with that network, he was fired. According to his account of the situation, it was done without so much as a conversation between himself and executives of the company to which he had brought so much for so long. Lemon was frequently controversial. Whether you agreed with him or not, he at least represented a Black presence at a major media outlet.

That voice is now gone. If history is a teacher, we won’t be able to depend on the Cable News Network to feel responsible for replacing him with anyone similarly forthright or outspoken.

Generally, the major outlets view the most radical voices as “one and done” whenever conflicts arise. There is no compulsion for equity, diversity or inclusion at the end of the day. Dollars dictate policy and strategies.

This massive effort to eliminate African American voices from the American conversation is coming a year before a major election. That is no coincidence.

Clearly, the fewer purveyors of truth on the national scene, the more institutional thinking will prevail, by both the left and the right. The disposition of the privileged few can dominate national dialogue as critical decisions are contemplated.

Know the game and refuse to believe everything you hear. When racists are the primary storytellers, you have to consider the source. Think for yourself and reject cattle mentality or you risk being led to political slaughter.

Vernon A. Williams
Vernon A. Williams

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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