The Minority Myth & Its Effects On The Black Psyche
by Cherise "Reese" Charleswell
While attending a writer's workshop and lecture by renowned Professor Dr. Earl Grant, former assistant and personal photographer of Malcolm X, two key concepts that he stressed quickly began to resonate with me. The first of these concepts was the importance of mastering the use of "words", which goes simply beyond developing a vocabulary, but also includes having an understanding of connotations, as well as the origins of the definitions. This is especially true with the complex standard American English,
which is forever rapidly changing, and incorporating newly defined words. A brief example of the importance of the definition of words relates to the widely used Webster dictionary, where the original definition of the word "nigger" was simply a Black person; it has since then evolved to be defined as an ignorant person. Other examples include the many terms that use "Black" to impart a negative connotation; such as black listed, black balled, and the comparison of a black lie to a white lie.
The second concept that Professor Dr. Earl Grant conveyed was that the final stage of the war or oppression of African people, is the War for the Black Mind. Actually, in The Destruction of the Black Mind, Dr. Bobby E. Wright, coined the term mentacide which relates directly to this concept. Mentacide basically occurs when Black people are alienated from their culture and history, and eventually lose their sense of purpose and direction.
I believe that the these two proposed concepts: words and the origins of their definitions and the War for the Black Mind, greatly correlate to this "minority myth"; which has greatly impacted people of African descent throughout the world. One could argue that, this myth greatly contributes to feelings or beliefs of inferiority, low self esteem, hopelessness; and it manifests itself in the continued position of African people to inhabit the lowest rung of the social strata, regardless of the society or na tion that they reside.
Yes, referring to people of African descent, the world's indigenous people, as a "minority" is a myth. People of African descent, including those who have migrated from the African continent 1,000s of years ago, continue to face similar racial prosecution and discrimination; an example of this is seen with the aboriginal people of Australia and New Zealand. The worldwide group of African people include the ancient and original inhabitants of the land now referred to as Egypt, where many of the descendants of the empires of Kemet or Kush, the so-called "Black Egyptians" continue to populate Egypt, while there are sizable populations of Africans in Iraq, India (Sheedis/Siddis), and even the Philippines (Negritos/ Atis or Aetas ). People of African descent are seen in large numbers and have developed distinctive cultures and communities in Europe, the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and throughout the nations in Central & South America.
The largest population of African people outside of the African continent is actually in Brazil. Also, many of the people in the Americas, who do not readily look or identify as being of African descent, due to menticide, self hate, and the state-sponsored institutional denial of history; actually do have somewhat recent African ancestry.
Thus, the vast and mighty African continent has not produced a minority population. When it comes to people of African descent, the terminology is grossly incorrect, and is indeed a myth. This myth depends on a limited vantage point and the need for people of African descent to be ignorant of their own history. The perpetuation of this myth directly relates to mentacide, where it is understood that once can not analyze a situation, if they do not know or believe that it exists.
This is what is occurring with people of African descent, who are often ignorant of other African populations. They are indoctrinated by nationhood and patriotism to their colonial and imperial leaders and former slave-holding nations; and thus are led to believe that they are indeed an isolated minority. If one understands the concept of mentacide, they would realize that this is not a coincidence. It has never been in the best interest of an oppressor, to provide the oppressed masses valuable information; that would actually empower them.
This minority myth isolates and helps to contribute to inferiority complexes and feelings of lower self esteem. It leads to populations forgetting and then believing that they do not have potential for greatness, or intellectual and commercial excellence. Trade between populations of African people throughout the glob, offers great economic potential, and could remove the possibility for exploitation by other groups, but this myth of the minority stands in the way of fostering such trade; and leaves African people dependent on non-African nations, communities, and businesses for their livelihood and subsistence.
Ultimately, destroying the Minority Myth will raise esteem and may possibly have great psychosocial, economic effects, and health benefits. For, much of the health disparities experienced by people of African descent are tied to historically social, psychological, and economic determinants of health.