OPINION: 10 WARNING SIGNS THAT YOU’VE BEEN BRAINWASHED by S. L. Writes
“Brainwashed” is a word that people often throw around, sometimes jokingly, often times not. No one ever admits to being brainwashed. In fact we get quite perturbed when someone even suggests that we are. But isn’t that the nature of brainwashing? The brainwashed individual isn’t meant to be aware of it. The moment people become aware that they’ve been brainwashed, the brainwashing immediately begins losing its effect. The more people learn and battle against their brainwashing, the more liberated they become. So how can people determine if they’ve been brainwashed?
I’ve adapted this post from the book, Brainwashed, by Tom Burrell. Tom Burrell spent years in the marketing world studying people and devising creative ways to influence them. Mr. Burrell was so good at influencing people that he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. According to his blurb:
Tom Burrell is credited with revolutionizing the image of African Americans in television and changing the face of African American advertising. His award-winning work promoted positive and realistic images of blacks and acknowledged the purchasing power of the African American community.
It was bad enough that I could so easily see manifestations of the Black Inferiority Complex before I read Mr. Burrell’s book, but now I really see this brainwashing everywhere… . Here are the warning signs.
1) Your Family is a Wreck
One of the tactics whites used to oppress slaves was destroying families. Over time, broken families became normal to blacks. Many believe that black families are just naturally dysfunctional. They think that it’s in a black man’s DNA to have multiple baby mamas or to abandon his family; that it’s a black woman’s birthright to distrust men, to gold dig, and to undermine a man’s role in the home. The truth is that slave traders/owners went to extremes to make sure we never had a chance to practice and cultivate strong nuclear families or pass on that tradition to our children. I’m proud of the many black families that manage to create strong nuclear families anyway, despite social environments that aim to tear them down.
2) You Identify Yourself or Others in Purely Sexual Terms
The portrayal of blacks as sex objects is tied to the portrayal of blacks as savages and beasts. Historical brainwashing efforts likened the sexual activity of blacks to those of animals—purely carnal with no emotions, sentiment, affection, or love. During slavery blacks learned that sex was power. In a society that deemed them powerless, they could use sex to get what they wanted. The same is true today with the video girls and strippers who claim that they’re just making money, as if there are no other ways to make money. For men, who have historically been labeled “boy,” sex was seen as the only way to assert their manhood. So this one’s for all the over sexed rappers and video vixens, and everyone who supports and celebrates them. What we should understand is that we have the power to attain power without debasing ourselves as sex objects with no dignity.
3) You Think Black is Rarely Beautiful
This third manifestation of brainwashing is rampant, but like all the others, it’s seen as normal. People get angry(really angry)when you suggest that perhaps their preference for white, mixed, or fair skinned people may be a product of a white superiority/black inferiority complex. Black people learned to associate their unhappy lives, oppression, slave status, second class citizenship, etc. with their skin color, hair texture, and facial features. Though the problem is not in the physical characteristics themselves, having black features in a racist society made for a troubling life in many ways. So blacks have wanted to and tried to change their features to escape their misery. Many blacks chose to change themselves rather than change the society or the power structure that places them at the bottom. Let’s not change our physical traits, because those aren’t the issue. The issue is our minds and acceptance of Eurocentric power and beauty standards.
4) You Downplay the Effects of Black-on-Black Violence
More blacks die at the hands of other blacks than at the hands of white police officers and neighborhood watchmen. While we should fight to end white-on-black violence, we should be just as outraged at black-on-black violence. Is the loss of a child’s life more tragic because a white cop killed him? If the lives of our children are precious to us, we should be outraged at anyone who takes their lives away, regardless of the race of the perpetrator. As Tom Burrell puts it, we’ve been more concerned with the way whites treat us than with the way we treat ourselves. Do we expect more civility from whites? Is it more outrageous for a white man to kill our child because we expect blacks to do all the killing? I know we’re tired of having whites terrorize us with impunity, especially with the history of lynching, bombing, burning, and murdering in this country. But we should not condone the violence perpetrated by blacks that are presently terrorizing our communities.
5) You Neglect Your Own Mind, Body, and Soul
Blacks are dying at alarming rates from diseases that are preventable and curable: diabetes, heart disease, and stress. Yes, black people have had to learn to survive on less: less money, less food, less healthcare, less time, etc. But why don’t we develop healthy habits whenever we can, when there’s really nothing stopping use beyond or lack of willpower? It’s because we’re brainwashed. We’re taught to think “that’s how black folks eat.” We associate our culture and heritage with unhealthy foods and unhealthy proportions of those foods. Since we think blacks are naturally more curvy than whites, we don’t try to control our weight, and we criticize those who do. Because we think blacks are superhuman when it comes to dealing with stress and mental illnesses, we suffer needlessly from psychological turmoil, afraid to seek help because of the stigma that it holds in our communities. On top of all the violence, we slowly commit suicide. Yes, we’re all going to die anyway, but does that mean you put a bullet in your own head? So why would you put a disease in your own body?
6) You Spend all Your Money on Superficial Things
It’s no secret that blacks spend money, and that companies small and large are exploiting every aspect of our brainwashed mentality to milk every cent (and every bit of sense) from our communities. We think having things amounts to having wealth. That’s true if you own property, I guess, but blacks associate success with things that depreciate in value and that can’t create additional value. We buy cars, clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry, phones, trips, and hair. What makes this really sad is that most of these things are bought on credit, which means we don’t actually have the money, which means we aren’t as well off as we think or pretend. Even if we do pay cash for these material things, our bank accounts are often overdrawn or hovering at a couple of dollars, and we live paycheck to paycheck with no savings or investments. This is more than just materialism. It’s brainwashing, because in a world that promotes black inferiority, blacks feel the need to prove themselves, to perpetrate, to validate, to feel and show themselves worthy. But we’re working at this from the wrong end. We need to start by building wealth in our hearts and minds, then building actual monetary wealth for our families and communities. Remember things DO NOT equal wealth, nor do they represent wealth. Acquiring things at the expense of saving means wasted money, debt, and an insecure financial situation.
7) You Don’t Expect High Performance from Blacks
As a teacher, I saw this every day with kids and parents who think merely passing is good enough. “What do I have to do to get a D?” was the most common question asked by students, or some version of that question. I also see this brainwashing when I hear black women say, “I will never work for a black woman.” I always ask the black women who say this, “So if you were a boss, would you be a bad boss?” Then there are blacks who say, “I’m going to give my business to the white man because they do the job right.” Just because you’ve had many bad experiences, doesn’t mean all white people perform quality work, and it doesn’t mean all black people perform poorly. I must also add a scientific principle to this: What we expect from people is often what we see and get from people. Before the slave trade even began in America, Europeans depicted Africans as inferior. But it’s not just entertainment media that portrays this, it’s so called scientific and academic media. In the book, Burrell quotes:
Many prominent biologists, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists dedicated their scholarly lives to proving the moral and intellectual inferiority of Africans and their descendants to justify the racism endemic in U.S. institutions.
My former students made many comments that proved the persistent belief in the inferiority of blacks.
8) You Wait for Marching Orders from Someone Else
Many black people have been taught (brainwashed) to be passive as though they have no control of their lives and they must accept their situation until an outside power changes it for them. We wait for saviors to show us the way out and tell us what to do and think. For many blacks, if Michael Baisden, Tavis Smiley, or Jesse Jackson doesn’t speak on an issue, then it’s not an issue. If they don’t tell us to march, then we’re sitting at home watching TV. Because of brainwashing, some blacks don’t really believe they have control of their lives. Congratulations to those who have escaped or overcome this element of brainwashing and have beaten the odds to make great lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. You see, only those who believe they have control in their lives do what it takes to become business owners, inventors, college graduates, or diligent parents. To promote this kind of success and advancement in our communities, we have to teach children and adults that they have power—especially if it’s a united power. Which brings me to warning sign number 9.
9) You Find Excuses to Divide Yourself from Other Blacks
We deflate our power as blacks by dividing ourselves over superficial circumstances or differences. No matter what issues other races have in their nations of origin, when they enter America, they support each other in ways that blacks often don’t. Of course, the vast majority of blacks arrived in America under drastically different circumstances than other ethnic groups, which has made us especially susceptible to the brainwashing campaign. This brainwashing continued as white men convinced blacks that it was more beneficial to be on the white man’s team and gain favor with whites, than it was to build a coalition with other blacks. Many blacks feel “special” if they’ve been “accepted” (more like tolerated) by whites. Black inferiority/white superiority makes blacks think they have “arrived” at the ultimate level of success when they rub shoulders with whites. Several blacks also internalized a zero-sum mentality that teaches us we have to compete with each other, that only one of us can win. This is why we fight over differences in skin color and hair texture and anything we believe gives us an edge in this racist world. Blacks who suffer with the inferiority complex will quickly and gladly abandon association with blacks or abandon support of blacks if they have the opportunity to connect with other minority groups such as Asians or Latinos. The reality is that we make racism more effective by being divided. A sign that we’ve overcome this facet of brainwashing is when we can put superficial differences aside and work together on common goals of advancement. You might say that all minorities need to stick together because it’s not just a black issue. That’s true, but if blacks can not get united with other blacks, how’s it possible to unite with anyone else?