African American: an Identity Crisis

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For centuries African Americans have been indoctrinated to subsist in a cultural and historical vacuum by their oppressors who would seek to bar them from ever making the connection to their illuminating past. This systematic agenda of mis-education and lies by omission has made possible the subjugation and enslavement, in body and mind, of the African American by his oppressors. In his essay “The Study of the Negro,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson sets out to ruminate on why the African American has been misled in his ascension to human equality and dignity and how he can remedy the dismal state of his affairs. A thorough reading of Woodson’s pioneering work indicates that we should study the experiences of African-descended people to gain knowledge about ourselves and other cultures as well as to take back accurate traditions and histories that have all but been discredited or misrepresented. Furthermore, only through this systematic study of their meaningful contributions to history can African Americans elevate themselves to empowered enlightenment.

One reason to study the experiences of the African American is to instill in him a sense of purpose and place in a world that otherwise intends to keep him perpetually in the dark. Undoubtedly the aim of his oppressors has been to convince him that his history is unimportant so as to deprive him of the sense of pride that is so necessary to feel wholly human. By espousing that “he has no worthwile past, that his race has done nothing significant since the beginning of time, and that there is no evidence that he will ever achieve anything great” (Woodson 6), his oppressors can be sure that the African American will continue down the path of mis-education that so allows for his subservience to a system that cares nothing for him. However, “if you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.” (Woodson 6) The core purpose of African...
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