THE MANTIDOTE May 2, 2003 Your self-hatred and despising of your blackness can hurt your scientific abilities. Be careful what you criticize within black culture as being “unsophisticated.” You may be reinforcing your own Eurocentric sense of self hatred. Also be careful about what you call “evolution,” for it may actually be devolution. I have been doing extensive research on the history of Science and Mathematics of Africa and hope to do a book on it by 2006. It is amazing how African we are after several hundred years of assaults upon our Africanisms. Let me illustrate a few examples of what I am talking about: The intellectual and artistic sophistication of black hairstyles: The criticisms of hairstyles by the so-called black intellectuals, is absolutely absurd. I used to buy into it for a short time back in high school when it came to what looked “professional.” Despite the fact that hairstyles from the African continent and in the Diaspora feature highly sophisticated patterns of fractal geometry that require an impressive sense of what I call "subconscious mathematics," I have found black people insisting that they look “ignorant,” “uncivilized,” and so on. “Don’t pay attention to people with these funny looking hairstyles. They won’t be getting jobs.” This is what potential black intellects are taught when leaving high school. It is absurd. An intelligent employer looking to further his team would know the value of having aesthetically pleasant hairstyles present and adding variety to the work environment. A hairstyle such as those like the Fulani braids can stimulate the imagination for several hours just by looking at them. Beyond work reasons, mathematics has been preserved in African culture throughout its everyday life. Not just in works such as Great Zimbabwe, The Dogon Astronomical knowledge system and the Pyramids (yes they were built and designed by Black Africans, not Phoenicians) but in art, clothing, games (like Omweso and Mancala), etc. If you check out hip hop beats (especially focusing on non-commercial hip hop), you’ll notice its beat organization can be analyzed using several traditional African number systems (I will be doing a treatment on that soon so stay tuned). I can go on and on about the sophisticated diasporic connections to Black culture which is often called “Urban” by the media. Yet I can also name you plenty of Dashiki wearing Eurocentrics (who may even were dreadlocks now-a-daze) that criticize them. Preserving African American culture is our key to survival. How long do you think MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Cal Tech, Stanford and all of the other prestigious schools have been putting out black graduates in relation to their time in existence. Not long. However, 1 out of every three invention for which there is a registered patent was invented by a black inventor, some of which were not even college educated. That does not include the slave inventions in which their true inventors could not get patents because of their legal status as slaves. How is this so? Because we brought our own analytical systems over here that is associated with the ways of viewing the world relating to our own culture. This is why I ask people commonly to stop saying “we need more black meteorologists,” or “we need more black mathematicians.” What we really need is more perception and preservation for who we are! If you want to see a black mathematician, then you need to look for the black engineer, the black architect, the black accountant, the black plumber, the black electrician, etc. Stop looking at the black farmer as some county hic with no knowledge. That farmer posseses knowledge of the meteorologist, botanist, zoologist, ecologist and several other people learning about “-ologies” all in one. But by the Eurocentric paradigm, if the Jargon is not present along with the dissertations and the piece of paper that says B.S., M.S. and PhD, then he is not any of those. That is so counterproductive. If your great grandmothers were so ignorant and incapable of being child psychologists, then why would white parents have allowed their children to be raised by them while they were off doing their respective duties? Her knowledge came from the real world and she can apply it in any situation. There are thousands of Child Psychologists who are well published with several PhD’s that still cannot answer today’s problems with the youth. Yet why is a psychologist defined by his/her academic standing? Don’t let the knowledge systems die out Whenever you run across an elder, sit down and become a sponge. I went to a forum recently about black images in the media. We were critiquing a scene from the movie “Don’t be a menace to South Central while drinking your juice in the hood.” The scene is where Shawn Wayans’ character went to go visit his cousin (played by Marlon Wayans) in his house. The refrigerator was full of liquor, and there was a part where the mother said “Pass me that ^&(-!” And there was a bottle of seasoning that actually read ^&(- On it! I understand it was a parody of what folks think hood living is like (according to movies) and I don’t think others necessarily do. It was just that… a parody, meaning there is a message about exaggeration that the Wayans were trying to get at. Anyways, there was one guy in the forum that said “Yall know folks just be putting anything in they food!” I wanted to laugh, but then I realized that this was someone that was just not up on the little things about black history. I really don’t think he understands historically that American culinary arts were perfected by African Americans. Within African American cooking is several historic wonders that relate to natural and herbal medicine, dietary science and many other things. My mother used to have to take Cod Liver oil everyday because her parents said so. She could not understand why. But it has not been until recently that Doctors have said Cod Liver oil has wonderful health benefits. Black people have known this for years! I wonder how many young cats know this now-a-daze. Then, you have the foods that we used to eat (and what we currently call “Soul Food” is nothing like it used to be) and the health that African Americans used to attain. Now, people are dying off in mass numbers. It isn’t just because of AIDS and drive-by’s. It’s also because of people not eating right. Because the family structure is not what it used to be, people are not getting the nutrition of home cooked meals like they should. Do not deny the knowledge of the elderly. I remember going down to South Geogia to listen to an older uncle of mine talk about some of the different things he did when on a construction site and it gave me a lot of insight on the work that I was doing at the engineering firm at the time. He had never been to college, but just by doing work and being attentive he learned several aspects of the civil engineering profession. There are a lot of knowledge systems to preserve and to re-invent out there that we are just letting go by the wayside. If we don’t preserve them, it’ll be the death of us. I’ll have to go into more details about this in my next mantidote.