THE MANTIDOTE May 16, 2003 Your self-hatred and despising of your blackness can hurt your scientific abilities (PART TWO). In my last mantidote, I talked about the old knowledge systems of black people and I also stressed the urge of preserving and re-inventing them. In this mantidote, I will take it a step further. Knowledge isn't knowledge yet until it becomes applicable. I hope that my last mantidote inspired some viewer to go talk to their elders in search of ways of knowing. I am still doing heavy research in this area. It is just absolutely amazing how people take for granted the hundreds of thousands of inventions black people made LONG before blacks could get admitted into MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Cal Tech, and so on. We are surrounded by the results of it. But in order to continue it, we must continue the ways and means of discovery. Here's what I like to call The African/African-American Scientific Method: Continue to learn as much as you can whenever you can from wherever you can. This step is a step that must be done before and after whatever you are trying to discover. An "inspiration" can come from anywhere Define your problem... but don't just define it... live it. Experience it. Know it by understanding how it fits into your realm. The Eurocentric science depends too much upon empirical evidence. Whilst I do not deny the importance of having numbers, it is important to understand how the numbers came to be. The Environmental Scientist sampling in an area where there was previously agricultural production is going to depend on the information he/she has acquired from USGS and farmland records before he sets out on a Phase I environmental Assesment and begins sampling. An unexperienced environmental scientist could overlok many problems that what the Eurocentrically trained (not educated) environmental science professor would call a "layman farmer" would say "I could have told you that." The same goes for the retired sewage worker in the inner city and enviromental problems that could surface in the city. Use your understanding of the problem to address it with whatever may be avalible. Black inventors did not have MIT's resources and they didn't need them. Their knowledge of their surrounding world was so intricate that they just used their wits. The scientific prowess of black people after "integration" is starting to look like the story of the dog with a steak in his mouth that looked over into the water at what he thought was a bigger steak. Like the dog that put down his steak, we too put down our own science tradition to receive what we thought was a "bigger steak." A Ku Klux Klan member from Florida once told me "All of the Negroes that made scientific accomplishments... all of the George Washington Carvers... did so because they were educated by whites." I laughed, but I realize that many black people still believe that they are totally dependent upon the white man for every single solitarty thing. Carver was a slave child. Because we think that our African culture was completely destroyed by slavery, it is assumed that he had to aquire interest and knowledge not from his ancestors from the continent, but from some benevolent "kind slave master." Of course I can understand the reluctance to learn black history from blacks. It is no accident. The media portrays negative images of black people and of Africa and we just do not want to learn who we are. We'd rather learn about other people's stuff (which is fine, but not before you learn your own). Our teenagers walk around with chinese inscriptions tatooed on them without even knowing what they mean. Many of them think Africa is a country and not a continent, let alone a continent with a history of science and mathematics going back many thousands of years. But if we took time to look at those painful slave narratives, we would realize that the only way they could continue to invent magnificnt wonders of american society after going through such tramatic experience is they brought over a knoledge system that transformed into something capable of surviving slavery and was continued to be passed down from generation to generation. George Washington Carver became interested in plants and rocks as a mall child and was nicknamed "plant doctor." Mind you, there was no multi million dollar training program invested in plantation work as you find in corporations. They learned from other slaves as they went. Slaves were brought to America based on their skills (this is the secret to doing an African American genealogy). Sierra Leone Slaves were called "Rice Negroes" because they were rice planters and were brought to places like florida. Yorubas planted yams and other crops. Bantu groups were expert cattle herders. Africans already were no strangers to sophisticated planting. In fact, they seemed to have possesed more knowledge of it than the Europeans who's ability to grow crops in Europe was far more limited by the physical terrain of Europe. Carver only spent a very small time in College. Shortly after graduation he became a professor and was famed for his botanical collection which featured hundreds of different species. Whilst I do not deny that his time at Simpson College helped, this knoweldge is a piggyback of his ancestors.