“We Sick Boss?”: The Unfortunate Tendency of “Educated Blacks” to Value White Schools over H.B.C.U.’s

Considering that I am approaching the half-century mark, I hope that most people understand that there are some viewpoints that I will never abandon. And when I say that I will NEVER abandon them, I mean it. In regards to many of these issues, I cannot envision a scenario where my perspective will ever change on substantive matters such as how I measure professional success. Although I am aware that many consider my refusal to budge a character flaw commonly referred to as stubbornness; I consider it a sign of integrity.

The above topic of how I measure professional success served as the battleground for a contentious battle between myself and a former collegiate classmate. Although we are both African-American Studies Professors, our viewpoints could not be more divergent.

As is our usual routine, a rather mundane discussion transformed into a significant disagreement regarding how professional success should be measured. This disagreement began the moment that I took significant issue with his belief that after toiling for years at a small religious-based black college his arrival at a “prestigious” white university signaled that he “had finally made it.”

I must tell you that my anger increased as this “brother” denigrated H.B.C.U.’s while lauding predominantly white institutions. To be honest, I felt as if I were stuck in the middle of an unaired episode of The Boondocks, I knew better. My mind could not resist bringing forth the imagery of Malcolm X who took those who believed that their decreasing proximity to whites was a valid measure of professional success to task via a crude historical analogy regarding a House Slave and a Field Slave. According to Malcolm, the House Slave loved his Master so much that if the Master got sick he would ask, “What’s wrong boss, we sick?” There is little doubt that my former collegiate classmate not only identifies with whites, but also has integrated their value system and priorities into his worldview. Put simply; they are his measuring stick.

This matter led me back to a quip that famed educator Jane Elliott articulated. “If you want to get ahead in America, act white.”

Despite my most fervent attempts, I have not been able to shake the conflict mentioned above as it reveals so much about a class of Black America who have been given significant opportunities, yet have failed to “stay the course” and work toward the liberation of those individuals and institutions that have yet to arrive. It is no stretch to assert that such individuals are of no utility whatsoever to the Black Community as they have been ‘brainwashed’ by an educational system and socialization process that will never cease its denigration of Black America.

What a waste of opportunity. They should be ashamed of themselves, however, such realizations escape them.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017


2 thoughts on ““We Sick Boss?”: The Unfortunate Tendency of “Educated Blacks” to Value White Schools over H.B.C.U.’s”

  1. I agree! African Americans need not apologize for having a desire to create our own reality. We need not put our institutions down in order to feel good about making a professional move. Capitalism is about making “Money Moves!” We should embrace our uniqueness without having to destroy our past! Let’s build a stronger community by fully funding HBCUs. It’s possible! We need not apologize for being th “Greatest.”

  2. Hello Dr. Jones, thank you for your points of view. The quip you mentioned by Jane Elliott, reminded me of how African Americans back in the 30’s thru 60’s would process their hair to make it as straight as possible to look white in that regard. Initially, lye was used which burned the scale and in some cases left sores. Some severe. Then there was the sounding as white as possible which by other African Americans, they would say, oh you just want to be white. In the past, I have pointed out the psychological damage slavery left in our minds. Assimilation into the white world was never a real possibility. Yet, many African Americans felt they had no choice, many felt it was necessary to make a way to secure work to take care of their families. A rock and a hard place if you will. That rock and hard place still exist and has just taken on new but just as impossible to be white. And after all, we still live on the plantations of white American, regardless of any progresses merely mirages of the mind. I’ve talked about the English language as a nefarious language designed from it’s origin to be duplicitous and a crutch for capitalism. We must use it and more often than not we don’t know how effectively. Yet another disadvantage, like the lye in the hair, the language is a lie that burns pyschic and levels sores in the mind.

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