Before I get into my article, I want to say the following: All Blacks are not failing. There are more Blacks in college than they are in prison, though the Liberal Left would have you think otherwise. The youngest Black female doctor is 23-year-old Ava Roberts. We had the world’s best neurosurgeon, a Black man, run for the Presidency. Although Mr. Ben Carson didn’t win the nomination he did show the world, you can Black, male and Republican. So this article is not meant to bash the Black community but to illustrate while we do have successes to speak, we also have some overwhelming failures that need addressing.
One of the biggest failures that lead to the destabilization we see in the Black community is the Oreo complex. The Oreo complex, for those who haven’t heard of it, is not the compulsion to eat Oreo cookies addictively, but the opinion found in the Black community that if you better yourself, if you don’t stay in the ghetto, if you get an education (this being the most important factor in the complex) or don’t listen to rap then you are acting White and therefore not really Black.
Education is an extremely important part of this complex because people will often talk down college to those who want to attend: They do this by spreading the myth that there are more Black men in prison than they are in colleges. A myth that is spread by authors, like Michelle Alexander in her 2010 book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” On page 190, it read: “The impact of the new caste system is most tragically felt among the young. In Chicago (as in other cities across the United States) young, Black men are more likely to go to prison than to college:”
Yet that is far being the truth. In fact, ” According to the U.S. Census, about 18,508,926 people in the U.S. population are Black males, of all ages. In 2013, 1,437,363 were enrolled in college, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. As of the middle of 2013, there were 219,660 Black males were in local jails, and 526,000 Black males were in state or federal prison, totaling about 745,000 behind bars, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Prisoner Statistics Program. So about 13 percent of the entire Black male population is in college. It may not sound impressive, but remember we are only 13 percent of the population and the 18 million is for all Black males, including newborns, 5-year-olds, and 16-year-olds, etc. if we were to exclude of them that number would be much higher. Yet the Left and those with Oreo complex continue to spread the myth as if it were the Gospel Truth.
The reason for doing so is capitalism at its worst. It is a way to make money while keeping people in poverty. It is a way to legitimize the “Thug Life” and make it seem like you are being punished simply for participating in what should be an acceptable and legal line of work, usually drug dealing. Michelle Alexander spends a lot of the book talking about the War on drugs specifically and not just mass incarceration in general. If you read Michelle’s book you get the feeling most Blacks are or will become criminals within the course of their lifetime. So if this what life is like for Blacks why not simply go out and do it? You are going to be punished for it one way or the other, you might as well have done the crime. Whatever Michelle think she is doing, she is actually laying the groundwork for additional Black people to be incarcerated not less.
I attended a conference at Los Angeles City College where Michelle Alexander was the speaker. I couldn’t stomach much of her speech and ended up leaving but I found quite odd she would go to a college, to talk to a room full of Black people about Blacks not going to college. Strange indeed, that was in 2010 when her book first came out. This past week, though, I went to a seminar on how to get in the UCs. (Universities of California, there about 9 total). They had three speakers and of course, I gave my story in bits and pieces as well. The room was full but still there were less than 100 people in attendance. It was being put on by a Black church, West Angeles Church, one of the largest Black churches in Los Angeles and as happy as I was to see people coming out for this, it saddened me there wasn’t more.
There wasn’t more because Blacks don’t see college as an option. While some of it has to do with finance and thinking they cannot afford to go college, a lot more of it is just the general mindset that college is for White folks and I don’t belong there. They feel they don’t belong there because the Michelle Alexanders of the world keep telling them they don’t. But for every Michelle Alexnder, there is a Deacon John H. Wilson, who is telling them that they do. Not only is he telling them, he is also showing them how to do it. He is helping them study for their SATs. He has even invited me to help the adults in his church also go back to school. If we are going to fix this Oreo complex, it is going to be through the efforts of Deacon Wilson and men like him.
But it is going to take a lot of Deacon Wilsons to change this historical aversion to education. Education is not only for the non-Black people of the world, it is for the Wes Moores as well. Wes Moore is” a Rhodes Scholar, a decorated veteran, White House fellow and a business leader.” [The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates] In his book, he writes about his life and another Wes Moore that grew up just blocks from him. While he grew up to be the above, the other Wes Moore grew up to be a murderer. Yet while the Oreo people will extol Wes Moore-the murderer, they will run down Wes Moore-the Rhodes Scholar.
Wes paints a compassionate picture of his namesake. Even he wonders how two boys with similar backgrounds and grew up blocks from each other came out on the opposite ends of the spectrum. While compassion is a noble virtue, it becomes a fatal flaw when we use it to paint prison life as heroic and ultimately inevitable. While Wes Moore is careful not to make that mistake, the Black community at large, is not. We are failing because we are not educating ourselves. After hundreds of years fighting for it, after Little Rock Nine and the Board of Education vs. Topeka, after all, the deaths and all the struggles we are throwing it away.
The Oreo complex is not just a cultural thing it is a familial thing, it reaches down to the very core of the Black community-the Black family.”Some of my black besties have had to contend with that themselves–because they DARED to work themselves out of the “ghetto” and get an education and a career! In some cases, their own relatives treat them like dirt for being “uppity” while still trying to take from them everything they’ve earned.” This quote by Lee Walker demonstrates that whether you are Black or not, that the aversion to education is so apparent that no steps are taken to hide it or downplay it. It is out there for everyone to observe. And observe they do. They observe the devastation that comes from not being educated.
My people love to talk about Dr. King but the title doctor is not some cute colloquialism that he called himself. Martin Luther King, Jr had a Ph.D. so why don’t they talk about that? Do you love Beloved by Toni Morrison? Well, Toni has her bachelor’s from Howard University and she also taught there! Can’t get enough of Mos Def? Well, he graduated from NYU! Then there are people like Deva, a Black 18-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, who is graduating high school WITH HONORS!!! You can beat there are no Oreos in Deva’s family. The truth is we can do this. We can become the great people we once were. We only need to educate ourselves.