Critical Thinking Belongs to Black People


Primitive (the first) Africans, in gaining approaches and methods for living, speculated on happenings in the Seen/Unseen worlds. Very Ancient Africans elaborated by studying the sky to get clues about the inner nature workings of the Cosmos. Using Critical Thinking (CT), they brought the light of Truth to replace the darkness of ignorance and to shed illusions, delusions, egoism, and mental agitations (e.g. anger, hatred, greed, lust). Ancient Africans used all of this to acquire knowledge by engaging in such intense concentration as to reach Contemplation (CT interwoven with and in the flow of what is concentrated on). This led them to devise Allegories (a hidden story within an obvious story) as the best way to explain the deepest truths about God, Creation, Life, the Soul, ones place in the Cosmos, and ones struggles to evolve from ones Lower Self (animal) to ones Highest Self (divinity). Once an Allegory’s inner meanings was deciphered by students, they would become aware of the message marvels of simultaneous spiritual, intellectual, scientific, and philosophical significance–significances incorporated into their Metaphysical (beyond the physical) and Material World concepts. African Sages–those in harmony with the Divine–fashioned principles upholding Cosmic Laws with such completeness and conciseness as to be applicable to Practical Living. Thus, inside Spiritual Allegories were placed CT principles to dramatize Cosmic Laws, lesser principles, processes, relationships, and functions in expressive ways easy for the people to answer: “How Shall I Live?”

          Allegory usage branched into all aspects of African daily life. Branches off major branches, like in-group “Indirection” (abstaining from directness for the purpose of avoiding crises or avoiding the face-threatening), were created by Enslaved Africans brought to the Americas so as to gain momentary relief from their hellish lives. Through the bad English they were taught is how they shared not just the names for things but also their values, meanings, and rules outlined by the captors–thus shaping how the Enslaved related to these things (Bailey, Afrocentric English). Example: From the foul language taught by the captors, the Enslaved used Allegory-based “Indirection” to play ingenius games of “one-upmanship” or “gamesmanship,” as featured in “Signifying.” Here, CT skill and style are the wedges for gaining an advantage over ones verbal opponent and thereby acquire great respect from ones peers. This, and other forms of Verbal Dueling were rooted in the mythic African folklore figure of “Esu,” the trickster known for building upon the concept of amusing and clever verbal traps. Allegory Indirection (saying something having a hidden and different meaning) was the code applied when speaking defiantly and deceptively within hearing distances of Whites. For example, the Enslaved singing the Negro Spiritual: “Steal Away to Jesus,” though soothing to Whites, served as a notice to fellow Slaves about a secret meeting. Signifying and other ways of obscuring messages–done to keep Whites deaf to what was being said or blind to what was happening or confusingly mis-directed–continued in post-slavery chain gangs and in Black People’s inner cities to this day, as in Rap.

          Black People’s rich verbal history and verbal dueling expertise have always required skilled CT to perfect such facilities, originality, creativity, and humor while stirring blazing emotions and deep thinking in Allegory forms–forms freely checkered with metaphors, similes, and symbols as part of an elaborate beautiful exploitation of language. Yet, certain verbal dueling forms can potentially erode ones self-esteem props. But if those can be prevented using created CT defenses/offenses, the resultant mental discipline is a means for developing mental toughness. By Black youth understanding their brilliant Ancient Ancestral history might cause them to justify the reversal of their attacks on Black Nerds from: “Are you trying to act White?” to the correct: “Are you trying to act Black?” The next step is to honor Black CT scholars.

Joseph A. Bailey, II,MD

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