Breaking free : Brainwashed Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority,Book review and analysis

“In the 21st century, the problem for African Americans has less to do with blatant racism than its imprint on our psyches. We’ve been brainwashed to internalize the myth of inferiority and have not yet wrested our image from the original mythmakers”. – Tom Burrell 

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell was an engrossing and dense read that explained America’s persistent and masterful propaganda campaign that marketed the conception of black inferiority. Moreover, Burrell analyzes Black America’s lifestyle and the history of slavery as a catalyst to how the adversity was cultivated and the degradation of African Americans becoming mainstream. Furthermore, even though African Americans during the 21st century have done some work to circumvent the circumstances. However, the damage on the psyche in terms of it embedding the notion of inferiority has been set, due to constant centuries of turmoil that transferred over generations. As mentioned this was a dense read so I’ll try my best to give cliff notes so to speak on the levels of damage “inferiority” did to African Americans. 

Chapters such as Studs and Sluts are intriguing with an in-depth look at sexuality and this chapter can somewhat correlate with a chapter on African American beauty and image. The European standard of beauty is the benchmark some African Americans have become accustomed to and this creates the notion that looking one’s best even if that’s at the detriment of self-esteem is what will garner acceptance and assimilation. So, “looking the part” will attract an individual to the black woman’s “alternative look” which isn’t the standard for African American beauty. Anyway, back to sexuality. The way African Americans were depicted and the conformity to black stereotypes dates back to the slave plantations, and that transitioned into the stereotype of the lascivious “Jezebel and Brute” that would “terrorize” non-blacks into submitting to their sexual prowess and enjoy doing it, which seems completely absurd when you delve more into it. In addition, the book details how black students’ standards of academics are skewed due to their parents excusing their poor performances in the classroom, and with this, mediocrity is celebrated over proficiency in their studies. In regards to this, studies in the book stated that black students believe that changing this mindset to achieve academic success is considered “trying to fit in, or acting white” which is the kind of defeatist mindset that leads to stagnation and a continuous expectation of failure. 

Moreover, Burrell guides the reader through each chapter as they are confronted with the nefarious ways the BI (Black inferiority) campaign has brainwashed African Americans. One of the jarring mindsets is how the BI campaign of brainwashing caused African Americans to start conforming to individualism instead of collectivism. In regards to this, Burrell points out that whenever African Americans coalesced in the past it was for something beneficial. However, with that coalescence, it became evident that it got hampered by obstinate minds in the community and this led to the dismantling of what was set to bring forth radical changes (I.E. Black Panther Party, Black Power Movement, etc…) 

In terms of the writing, Burrell made it comprehensive and candid with his style that consisted of intertwining studies, anecdotal experiences, and interviews with relevant black figures that added merit to the theme of the chapters, and this in my opinion gave it a sort of documentary style. With that said, I think this book is a must-read to gain insight into how America’s biggest marketing campaign of Black inferiority sabotaged the collective growth of African Americans in all facets of the American lifestyle. The BI Brainwashing campaign of Black inferiority has caused African Americans to acquiesce to the concept of inferior status in this land that propagates the concept since its independence of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. It’s time to break free of the victim mentality and conquer every obstacle with tenacity. 

Book rating: 5/5

That’s a clean cut! : The history of black barbershops in America, Black History 365

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Barbershops are not only places to get a clean cut and look sharp, but it’s also a place where you can relax, talk and feel a part of a community. It’s a workplace but has the feeling of a lounge and throughout the nation, it’s a vital part of black communities. I have been cutting my hair for the last five years (A good job I’ll add) and haven’t been in a barbershop since 2016 but that doesn’t negate my experience from childhood and up until that point (2016) on how instrumental barber shops especially black-owned ones did to my growth in terms of socialization and culture. With that said, in this post, I’ll be explaining the history of African American barbering.

Black Barber Shops

The Importance Of Barbershops

As mentioned, Barbershops play a pivotal role in the cultural and economical development of African American communities. Barber Shops displayed social and cultural appreciation to both its visitors and owners. Additionally, from my experience, even though the majority of patrons were African Americans, that doesn’t exclude other races entering that environment and being welcomed. Furthermore, not only will you be able to get great haircuts but you will build rapport with your barber and patrons. Newfound connections will result in repeat visits and that’s why I believe barbershops have been imperative in black communities in terms of strengthening the black male identity.

The power and politics of the black barbershop | The FADER

Cutting the way to freedom

It was during slavery in the 19th century when black barbers were introduced to America. Since they were the property of their masters, the masters would find new ways to profit from their slaves and in this case did with barbering. They would lease black male slaves to their neighbors and local establishments to groom prominent white men. Furthermore, even though black-owned barbershops were run by slaves or ex-slaves, it wasn’t easy for a black man to visit a black barber and get a haircut not only in the south but also in the north! The reason being, those black barbershops were a competition for white-owned barbershops, and their ( and I mean the black barbers) patrons were primarily white men. Economic reasons hindered the barber’s financial stability but black barbers preferred indoor conditions compared to the brutal conditions they faced in the fields. Their futures as barbers would improve once they were freed under Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863), and once they began working as free men, they opened their shops in black communities for black communities. Shortly after, the barber industry began to stagnate a bit and many began to close down, all due to state laws requiring formal training for barbers to be licensed. From then on, barbers owning shops were to be licensed with no exceptions.

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In 1934 Henry M. Morgan established Tyler Barber College, a school for aspiring African American barbers. Around 80 percent of barbers were schooled here. The conception of this college initiated a shift in attitude between white men and black barbers.

Wealth and opportunities

At the beginning of the 20th century, black men began experiencing wealth from barbering. One of the first African American millionaires, Alonzo Herndon, began his empire in 1878 with his first barbershop. Before his legacy ended he owned more than 100 rental places which subsequently caused him to become the wealthiest black man in Atlanta. Furthermore, he expanded his ventures to the YMCA and the National Negro Business League which played a vital role in the growth of Black America.

Willie Lee Morrows, another pivotal figure in the history of black barbering, started his career in the ’60s and never looked back. He started his barbering journey when he was hired by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to train thousands of army barbers in Vietnam and other Asian countries during the war. Currently, Morrows is a multimillionaire and is known as a pioneer in the black hair care industry.

Believe it or not but African American barbershops were places where black liberation activists gathered and brought their call to action mentality to bring awareness about civil rights to patrons. Not to mention, the impact had on the Hip Hop scene beginning in the ’80s.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania Willie Lee Morrow barber


 The importance of barbershops to American history is vital. Other than it being a place to get one’s hair cut, it’s a place where communities can connect, and in this case black communities that found a haven in barbershops. Discussions of social and societal reform took place there, and it was a catalyst for individuals to find not only confidence in themselves but in their communities. Today, barbers and barbershops are instrumental in being a staple in many communities’ development.

Why the culture of black barbershops is so important

The Harlem Renaissance (Black History 365)

Welcome to Black History 365, a series where I explain, educate, and explore historical events, unsung black figures in world history, and recount the triumphs and struggles of black people worldwide. In this entry of Black History 365, I will present the story on the Harlem Renaissance, a period in history that shaped black culture and became a staple for entertainment in the east coast.

After the end of the Civil War in 1865, hundreds of thousands of African Americans newly freed from the nightmare of slavery in the South began to dream of becoming active participants in American society, including political empowerment, equal economic opportunity, and economic and cultural self – determination. 

Unfortunately, by the late 1870s, that dream was a largely dying one due to white supremacy quickly restored to the Reconstruction South. White lawmakers on state local levels would pass the strict racial segregation laws known as “Jim Crow laws that made African Americans second – class citizens. Even though a small number of African Americans were able to become landowners, most were exploited as sharecroppers, a system designed to keep them poor and powerless. Meanwhile, hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) perpetrated lynchings and conducted campaigns of terror attacks and intimidation to keep African Americans from voting and exercising other fundamental rights. 

With the North and Midwest beginning to have booming economies due to the offering of industrial jobs for workers of every race, many African Americans realized their hopes for a better standard of living and a more racially tolerant environment was outside of the South. By the turn of the 20th century, The Great Migration occurred as hundreds of thousands of African Americans relocated to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York. The Harlem section of Manhattan, which covers just three square miles, drew nearly 175,000 African Americans, resulting in the neighborhood consisting of the largest concentration of black people in the world. Furthermore, Harlem became a destination for African Americans of all backgrounds. From unskilled laborers to an educated middle – class, they shared common experiences of slavery, emancipation, and racial oppression, as well as a determination to forge a new identity as free people. 

The Great Migration drew to Harlem some of the greatest minds and outstanding talents of the day, an astonishing array of African American artists and scholars. Between the end of World War 1 and the mid 1930s, they produced one of the most significant and entertaining eras of cultural expression in the nation’s history, the Harlem Renaissance. Yet this cultural explosion was not limited to Harlem, because it would also occur in Cleveland, Los Angeles, and many cities shaped by the great migration. Alain Locke, a Harvard educated writer, critic, and teacher who became known as the “dean” of the Harlem Renaissance, described it as a “spiritual coming of age” in which African Americans transformed “social disillusionment to race pride”. 

Poetry and Prose, paintings and sculptures, Jazz and swing, opera and dance encompassed the Harlem Renaissance. With that said, what united these diverse art forms was their realistic presentations of what it meant to be black in America, what writer Langston Hughes called an “expression of our individual dark skinned selves, as well as a new militancy in asserting their civil and political rights. 

Among the Renaissance’s most significant contributors were intellectuals, W.E.B Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Cyril Briggs, and Walter Francis White; electrifying performers Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson; writers and poets Zora Neale Hurston, Effie Lee Newsome, Countee Cullen; visual artists Aaron Douglas and Augusta Savage, and an extraordinary list of legendary musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ivie Anderson, Fat Wallers, Jelly Roll Morton, and countless others. 

At the height of the Renaissance, Harlem was the epicenter of American culture. The neighborhood was filled with African American owned and run publishing houses and newspapers, music companies, playhouses, nightclubs,and cabarets. The literature, music, and fashion they created defined a “cool” culture for blacks and whites alike, in America and around the world. 

As the 1920s came to a close, so did the Harlem Renaissance. Its prime was cut short largely due to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the resulting Great Depression, which hurt African American owned businesses and publications which caused less financial support for the arts available from patrons, foundations, and theatrical organizations. 

However, the Harlem Renaissance’s impact on America was indelible and was a landmark in American history. The movement brought notice to the great works of African American art and influenced future generations of African American artists and intellectuals. The Renaissance was sort of a self-portrait of African American life, identity, and culture in ways that would capture and entertain the rest of the nation. The culture that emerged from Harlem transmitted to the world at large, challenging the racist and disparaging stereotypes of the Jim Crow South. Moreover, it radically redefined how people of other races perceived African Americans and understood the African American experience. 

 Most importantly, the Harlem Renaissance instilled confidence and racial pride in African Americans across the country, a new spirit of self-determination and expression, a new social consciousness, and a new commitment to political activism, all of which would provide a foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In doing so, it validated the beliefs of its founders and leaders like Alain Locke and Langston Hughes that art could be a catalyst to improve the lives of African Americans.

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