“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”-Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Mis-Education of the Negro (1933).
Our socially constructed society within the U.S. has a long history with tinkering to fine tuning their practices of control engineering. These modes of control are first incited into the psyche of Black children in public schools from the inception of public education and continuing today. The infamous slave owner, Willie Lynch, in his letters of 1712, discussed the development of a monstrous method for controlling Black slaves for a minimum of 300 and possibly thousands of years (Lynch 1712). He lectures how to indoctrinate slaves in a manner which refueled and self-generated itself in an effort to oppress and control Blacks through the use of fear, distrust, and envy. Such practices and slavery itself as an institution were deep-rooted in the White racial frame, created by Whites for the benefit of Whites to gain power and privilege over the marginalized (Feagin 2006). Feagin notes that the White racial frame is:
“an organized set of racialized ideas, stereotypes, emotions, and inclinations to discriminate” (p.25).
He further explains that the framework is then repeated, presented, and expressed unconsciously and at times, conscious toward people of color within institutions with a foundation of racism, such as U.S. public education. The White racial frame is a construct that was created not only as a rationale and justification for the events pertaining to slavery, but also to facilitate the financial gains of Whites through their physical and psychological encampment of Blacks and other people of color. Even though the physical chains have been removed from the ankles of Blacks, today the chains kneaded from the clay of oppression have been reshaped into covert racist components which are embedded within all major institutions in America in a continued effort to disable and control Blacks, but more often, specifically targeting Black males. Now, this contention is not to overlook or nullify Black females by saying that they do not have a long history of being targeted and oppressed. U.S. history is filled with many overt and covert dreadful examples, such as the negative portrayal of Black women within the media, raping and sexual exploitation, disproportional earnings in comparisons to Black males, to governmental policies that negatively affect and alter their lives (Feagin 2006; Cose 2003; Tait 2002). The difference between Black males and females is that Black males have a history of being seen as a more considerable threat to the psyche of Whites in general (Hutchinson 1994). Due to this major difference, Black males are then subjected to a more intense measure of control and hardship directed by Whites. As children, young Black males are handcuffed on the tilted playing field of opportunities designed by the dominant White majority which consciously and subconsciously reproduces subjugation and control. Unlike other people of color and women who have witnessed societal progress, Black males, especially young Black males, are more to be addicted to drugs, high school drop-outs, addicted to drugs, interacted with the criminal justice system, and dead by their own or another Black male hands. Overall, public schools today are illustrations of how racism and its perpetual reproduction have continued to regurgitate itself throughout history in an effort to maintain the gyration of a cycle of control targeting people of color. But for Black males, within my research, I have found that control specifically can be seen within the the use of corporal punishment, over-represenation within special education, warehousing (placing students in alternative education facilities away from the general population), and over-medicating of Black males within special education categories.
Some critics may not agree due to the powerful repercussions of Brown v. The Board of Education. They may even feel that racial oppression and control has diminished. But, beyond the racial progress that has taken place within the U.S., my belief and corroborating evidence that exists indicate that due to the fact that our society is a White owned and operated entity; institutions such as education do not freely and equally give people of color the same resources and access to education as their White counterparts. Memmi (2000) understood that:
“racists are people who are afraid…generally it is because one wishes to obtain or defend something of value…the necessity to defend an individual identity and a collective identity, against all who come from elsewhere and don’t belong, is in operation” (p. 97).
This is evident within the discriminatory fashions within the policies and procedures that undeniably place Black males at a higher risk of being physically tortured, falsely placed within a never-ending nexus of special education, drugging with an array of psychotropic behavioral stimulants, and ultimately stigmatizing them into an unpleasant pit of despair.
Cose, Ellis. (2003, March 3). The Black Gender Gap. Newsweek, pp. 46-51.
Feagin, Joe (2006). Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression.New York: Routledge.
Hutchinson, Earl (1994). The assassination of the Black male image.
Los Angeles, CA: Middle Passage Press.
Lynch, Willie and Malik K. Hassan-el (1999). The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave. Reprint Edition. Frontline Distribution International.
Memmi, Albert (2000). Racism (Steve Martinot, Trans.). St Paul, MN: The Regents of the University of Minnesota (Original work published 1982).
Tait, Alice and Todd Burroughs (2002). Mixed Messages: Race and the Media. In Herbert. Boyd (Ed.), Race and Resistance: African-Americans in the 21st Century, pp. 101-108. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.