I had to dumb down in order to fit in

Negative Images ‘Brainwash’ African Americans   
March 18, 2010

Tom Burrell spent more than 40 years in advertising, and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

what you do is you kind of fake it till you make it.
And you think, well, maybe either I’m the exception to the rule. Or you think that, well, maybe I’m not as good or as smart as people think that I am, and maybe I’ll just keep trying to fool them.

So in our attempt in a materialistic, capitalistic society, to gain somebody-ness, what do we do?
In a materialistic society, we try to do it through getting stuff and owning stuff.
And it’s not a matter of buying things that we can’t show off.
It’s all about things that we can show off, that basically are saying here, look at me, world. I am somebody.

And you have this illusion of progress, you know, or even a delusion of progress, that just doesn’t take away the fact that after all of the efforts that have been made, we are still, as a people, at the top of just about every bad list and at the bottom of just education, income, … just go through the list.

Fast-forward, you get this thing called progress.
Then black comedians came in and says hey, you guys don’t have to do that, we’ll do it. We’ll take it over.
And they have taken it over to the point where, like in the use of the N-word, for instance, white people can’t even begin to say it as fast as we can say it and with such conviction.
And we own it as if we are being empowered by it, when in fact what we’re doing is we’re continuing to damage ourselves with it.

Carter G. Woodson, a famous black historian, talked about the idea that African-Americans have been basically conditioned to go around to the back door, and if there is no back door, we will insist on one.

“D’s Will Do: Why Do We Expect So Little Of Ourselves and Each Other?.”
And there are several reasons why that happens. I mean, there is lower expectations means fewer disappointments.
You know, if you are taught that blacks are inferior, then you set up your own substrata of – for performance. The other thing is that you basically become comfortable with negative behavior, so then being smart gets interpreted as acting white. Because to act – to be smart, is also to be different. And to be different means that you try – you’re trying to be better than we are, those who aren’t striving.

I had my own situation when I was in grade school.
I was doing pretty well in fourth grade, but I saw myself being moved away from my peers who were basically into the-D’s-will-do category, and they basically started to reject me so I had to dumb down in order to fit in. And we get that phenomenon going on all the time.

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