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Dr. Woodson’s nightmare

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Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 12:05 am

Recently on my daily radio program I noted that three of the seven African-American students in the media classes that I teach at Webster University were disruptive and inattentive. While four are brilliant, attentive and anxious to learn, these three are not. One of the troubling episodes we discussed on the program occurred on a day that it was announced in the daily newspaper that another predominantly black school district will lose state accreditation.

This is disturbing because of the long-term implications not only for the students, but for their families, the region as well as the impact on local and national politics, for uninformed students are usually not forward-looking about how their actions will influence their future and perhaps yours and mine.

“The most imperative and crucial element in Woodson's concept of mis-education hinged on the education system's failure to present authentic Negro History in schools and the bitter knowledge that there was a scarcity of literature available for such a purpose, because most history books gave little or no space to the black man's presence in America,” the preface to Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro” (1933) reads.

“Some of them contained casual references to Negroes but these generally depicted them in menial, subordinate roles, more or less sub-human. Such books stressed their good fortune at having been exposed, through slavery, to the higher or white man's civilization. There were included derogatory statements relating to the primitive, heathenish quality of the African background, but nothing denoting skills, abilities, contributions or potential in the image of the Blacks, in Africa or America.

“Woodson considered this state of affairs deplorable, an American tragedy, dooming the Negro to a brain-washed acceptance of the inferior role assigned to him by the dominant race, and absorbed by him through his schooling.” 

The youths of the race were Woodson's particular concern because he recognized that it was with, the boys and girls that “mis-education” began, later crystallizing into deep-seated insecurities, intra-racial cleavages, and interracial antagonisms.

What is frightening to me is that I am certain the three students I mentioned earlier will have no desire for self improvement, to help others, or to participate in the electoral process. Their minds, their future and their votes will be wasted.

Could these three students make a difference in the November elections? Would their votes support the candidate that will help them survive? How and when will they be convinced that education is the key to their survival, and their opportunity to fulfill their dreams and ambitions?

I suspect Mitt Romney was referring to them and maybe their parents when he stated, “There are 47 percent who are with (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what these are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

These three young people do not appear to have a dream or a vision of success. Are they spoiled or misguided?

I hope all of my students will have a productive future and I hope they will get involved in the electoral process and register to vote. I sincerely hope the inattentive three will stop wasting my time, their time and their parents’ money and become the great leaders they are able to become.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on WGNU-920 AM, or live at And please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday night at 10pm and Friday morning at 9 a.m. and Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. on KNLC-TV Ch. 24. I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369 or at

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