|“Man, a person would have to be
crazy to believe that nonsense.”
Historians, lawyers, sociologists and psychologists have written about the nature and causes of black errant behavior from the perspective of their academic discipline. Missing until now have been the comments of someone steeped in the art of professional communications.
“BRAINWASHED: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority,” by Tom Burrell, sets a new standard for the genre. Burrell was the founder and CEO of an eponymous advertising agency that attained great success in selling consumer products to African Americans. For 45 years he was a recognized master of “system persuasion.”
With the directness of an experienced businessman analyzing a problem, Burrell asks “why, despite our apparent strength, intelligence, and resourcefulness do we continue to lag behind and languish in so many aspects of American life?” The author expects that BRAINWASHED will provoke an honest discussion that will launch the healing process.
Burrell’s experience as a marketing professional is the unique qualification he brings to the task. He understands the power of propaganda “and the use of words and images to influence, change and even transform people’s lives.” While he cites the 400-year propaganda campaign to establish black inferiority as the root cause of the problem, he is critical of ineffective black strategies to escape what he calls the BI campaign.
Despite considerable achievements, Burrell believes blacks are still brainwashed by BI propaganda. He cites a statement by W.E.B. DuBois to buttress his assertion:
“But in the propaganda against the Negro since emancipation in this land, we face one of the most stupendous efforts the world ever saw to discredit human beings, an effort involving universities, history, science, social life and religion.”
In the debate with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, Abraham Lincoln confirmed the roots of this propaganda. “There is a physical difference between the black and white races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”
Burrell published results from recent research at the University of Michigan to demonstrate how the BI propaganda still effects white attitudes about blacks. Interviews with whites show: 29 percent think blacks are unintelligent; 45 percent believe blacks are lazy; and 56 percent believe blacks would rather live on welfare than work.
Clearly, many whites have accepted the BI campaign as true, but so have many blacks, according to Burrell. In separate chapters, Burrell explores 10 different areas where errant black behavior is socially destructive. He sets forth the historical roots and proposes remedies.
Some of these sections are: Why can’t we build strong families? Why do we perpetuate black sexual stereotypes? Why do we keep killing each other? Why can’t we stop shopping? Why do we give up our power so willingly?
In this latter section, Burrell courageously criticizes ministers who are supported by their parishioners but provide no community service. He also questions the integrity of some race-based organizations. “Some black organizations are now so large and venerable that self-preservation and organizational growth are their principal concerns. ...Without overt racism, there would be little purpose for black leaders or organizations with constricted race-based agendas. With no other bucket to cast down, it may be in their best interest to maintain — not solve — the race problem.”
Indeed, BRAINWASHED should provoke considerable honest discussion.