“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” – Angela Davis
“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” – Frederick Douglass
“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.” – Walter Lippmann
“…stay woke; Niggas creepin’; They gon’ find you; Gon’ catch you sleepin’.” – Childish Gambino
If a black person in the U.S. holds an undergraduate degree, understands the historical situation of black people in this country, and is concerned for the well-being of their family and friends, then they should use their improved, formal critical thinking and language skills, which were more than likely acquired at a high cost, to assist black people.
In order to do so, one must recognize that undergraduate programs are ostensibly designed to instill a method of critical thinking through the English language called Logic, which is the systematic study of argument. An argument is an orderly process of supporting a conclusion with evidence. The conclusion is the main part of the argument, and evidence is the information that supports the conclusion. Arguments are typically used to diminish deception and uncover truth. There are rules in Logic, and all academic disciplines are based on these rules. These disciplines aim to teach students to identify, critique, and create arguments. The conclusions developed in the field of nursing over the years, for example, are produced through debate, supported by evidence, and presented in standard English. These nursing arguments that are printed in English textbooks and taught by professors are avenues to understanding arguments in general.
Once one graduates from an undergraduate program, those sharpened critical thinking skills must be regularly strengthened and conditioned for the remainder of one’s life if their value is to be retained and increased. One of the most efficient ways of exercising the mind is reading quality literature. Exposing one’s self to the arguments laid out by brilliant minds and laboring to understand their structure and content allows one to accumulate models of argumentation, useful information, language styles, and strong intellectual habits.
In the “real world”, as many people like to call the world of employment as if the world of the college campus only exists in fiction unaffected by “real world” concerns, the method of critical thinking and standard English an undergraduate degree holder rigorously experiences for several years underpins all books, articles, laws, leases, employment contracts, paychecks, budgets, bills, and other documents we depend on for our livelihoods. A command of Logic and standard English can be used to understand and challenge the conclusions of landlords, employers, politicians, clergy, scholars, loved ones, and other power brokers. In a country with a verified history of institutional and cultural racism, black people should carefully scrutinize every document and conclusion presented to us. In doing so, our agency is strengthened, we become difficult to deceive, and perpetually unfit to be slaves.