One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history is found in “The Matrix” when Morpheus offers Neo a life-altering choice in the form of two pills; a red pill and a blue pill.
The choice provided Neo an opportunity to either continue living in a world that was “given” to him or seeing the world as it really is.
Although I admit to being guilty of engaging in hyperboles, however, this scenario resonates with my soul as I liken it to my “great awakening” at Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU).
There is no other way to describe my mindset when I arrived at PVAMU other than naïve to the current state of African-Americans. Much like Morpheus alluded to Neo, I “knew something was wrong but I simply could not put my finger on it.”
It was while at PVAMU that I met my own Morpheus, Dr. James Thomas Jones III; no disrespect intended for other professors such as Dr. Ronald Goodwin. However, when it comes to awakening me to the real world, I must pay homage to Dr. Jones as he most certainly gave me my red pill.
While majoring in History at PVAMU, I was exposed to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Plan, seduced by the eloquence of W.E.B. Dubois and mentally set afire by Malcolm X and the Black Power Era. Put simply, I was forever changed by my exposure to what can only be termed ‘Black Genius’. Ironically, it was learning about the rough road that my ancestors had traveled that provided me a clear focus regarding my contemporary existence as an outcast among my African-American peers.
I grew up in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, Texas; an area of the city that most would consider filled with urban blight. My aforementioned outcast status flowed from my innate desire to study history in an effort to illuminate my mind. Put simply, I quickly discovered that the pursuit of educational endeavors within my so-called community was not only frowned upon but also publicly discouraged by the vast majority of those around me.
One thing was certain if those around me found disdain with my pursuit of knowledge, their insatiable materialism had a much more intense effect upon my view of them and the entire Race. The ‘red pill’ allowed me to see that my contemporaries had swallowed the ‘blue pill’ and therefore had no means of being able to even realize the error of their ways. There was no doubt at all that the vast majority of those around me were not heeding Lupe Fiasco’s warning to not overdose on “the cool”.
It does not take much analysis to realize that African-Americans have a vested interest into a “matrix” of materialism that not only shuns the development of the mind but also takes the historically unprecedented step of being outright hostile to such endeavors. It is this inability to prioritize that has so many within our midst living to impress an uncaring world with trinkets while the things that should matter continually worsen over time.
I avoid using broad strokes when painting my people with all of my being, however, the conclusion that the vast majority of my peers, regardless of their socioeconomic status or educational attainments, have more respect for “trap niggas” than those who are diligently working to re-build our community is obvious.
What a shallow people we have become.
In a recent article on this site titled, “Falling To Answer When Opportunity Calls” Dr. Jones issues a much-needed call for an African-American cultural Renaissance. We should view this as a call to action reminiscent of when Morpheus asked Neo, “Now you see what the Matrix is. What are you going to do about it?” Although I can only speak for myself on this matter, I plan to definitively respond to this call by diligently working to revert African-American culture back to its roots of respectability, intellectual pursuit, self-help, and politico-economic collectivism.
Consider this a public pledge to end the cultural dysfunction that makes ignorant behavior being ‘cool’ and intellectual thought the opposite. It is my, and your, duty to awaken our people from this daunting trance and turn them toward more productive endeavors. We can no longer afford to equate achievement for African-American males with rap lyrics and jump shots. As stated in the book of Jeremiah, truth “is like fire set up in my bones”, and I must tell all of my people. We must awaken, the time is now.
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016