Monday, February 18, 2013

A Weapon of Mass Distraction

Question. How do you enhance your chances of preventing oppressed people from overcoming their oppression?

Answer. There are many tools that can serve this purpose. One of them is the tool of distraction. (a) Distract their attention away from the oppression. (b) Allow them very little idle time, they might decide to organize and address their condition. This can be prevented by filling their idle time with distraction. (c) Clear thinking might lead to an understanding of their condition. Inhibit clear thinking by distracting them with confusion. These are but a few ways that distraction is used to prevent the oppressed from overthrowing their oppressor.

Question. Why do I make this point?

Answer. Because I am an educator, and I want my readers to understand that “education” in the hands of the oppressor is a tool of oppression.

A Weapon of Mass Distraction. For Black children public education is a weapon of mass distraction. It distracts attention away from our oppression. Where in schools (run by those outside of our community[1]) do Black children learn that as Afrikan people we are oppressed? Where do they learn who oppresses us? Where do they learn strategies for collectively overcoming our oppressors?

For Black children public education is a weapon of mass distraction. It allows students (and parents) very little idle time. The life of an African American child in grades K-12 is filled with the drudgery of mastering meaningless minutiae. Those that don’t master it adequately are often shuffled off to prison/jail where the state will confine them and provide their basic needs. Others are resigned to a life of hustling to satisfy basic needs. At the other extreme, those who do learn to master meaningless minutia are often shuffled off to employment, where they are resigned to a life of hustling to satisfy basic needs.

For Black children, public education is a weapon of mass distraction. It inhibits clear thinking with profound confusion. “America is the land of the free” but “Your people’s history begins here in slavery.” “Columbus discovered American” but “He met 500 Nations of Indians when he got here.” “Black people are lazy” but “We traveled across an ocean to get them to pick our cotton for us.” “We love freedom and democracy” but “We frequently travel overseas to bomb the bejesus out of people who don’t practice it our way.” “You need to come to school to learn” but “We will suspend you if the teacher doesn’t like your facial expression or the tone of your voice.”

Precious few are those Black students who escape the onslaught of school with a mindset and skill set that positions them to help move the Black community towards freedom and independence. And those who do escape to be a service to our community do it in spite of rather than because of these institutions.

Liberating Education = A Weapon of Our Own. We can counter the effect of the schooling weapon, by providing liberating education to Black children in the space where we have them (e.g. after school, on the weekend, during the summer, around the house, and in our churches). The education we provide should help them to understand that they are born into a time where our race is under the foot of racism white supremacy. We should help them to understand that collectively we have a responsibility to eradicate racism white supremacy. We should help them to develop skills and dispositions that help them to fulfill that responsibility. In a recent article published in African American Learners, which is a journal sponsored by the Institute for the Study of the African American Child (ISAAC), we provide an example of liberating education for Black children. The goal was to give educators an idea of what it looks like in practice. If you have a chance, check it out.

For additional educational resources visit Like us on Fakebook. That’s all I have to say about that… for now. We can change the world in just one generation by properly educating our children. We are going to win!

And remember… Have Fun!

Jomo W. Mutegi, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Science Education at the Indiana University School of Education in Indianapolis. He is also a member of the (ES)2 Research Program, which works to advance STEM curricula that position people of African descent to improve their current social condition. To learn more about the (ES)2 Research Program visit:

[1] By “our community” I am referring to the community of Afrikan people who have committed themselves to eradicating the system of racism white supremacy and replacing it with justice. There are many Blacks who knowingly or unknowingly function as minions of the system of racism white supremacy and in doing so reify our oppression. They are not of “our community.”