Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
"These pages examine the roots of why, more than 140 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, so many of us still think like slaves... In Brainwashed, we will question why we still think so little of ourselves, why our grandmothers still put their savings in a special offering plate to help pay for the pastor's new luxury automobile, why our children answer when called ‘ho' and ‘nigga'… and why we, all too often, avoid critical thinking about any of this…
Even at this unprecedented and powerful point in American history, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers still express their frustration with black America's ever-worsening dependency on handouts, corporate sponsorships, and our kids' lack of respect for anything and anyone, especially themselves. They finally convinced me that my advertising-based discoveries about the brainwashing of my people, and my ideas about how to finally reverse its effects, could fill a book.
Well, here it is."
—Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. xvi)
Ever since the dawn of the nation when the Founding Fathers deliberately rationalized slavery by spreading the big lie that black people were inferior, African-Americans have suffered from serious self-esteem issues. But why has this phenomenon continued to persist so long past emancipation and the elimination of the Jim Crow system of segregation?
This is the nagging thought which inspired Tom Burrell to write Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority. After all, as an advertising executive with 45 years in the business, he is well aware of the power of propaganda. So he knows that American society has done such a good job on the minds of blacks that they have not only internalized but have willingly participated in the perpetuation and further dissemination of nearly every negative stereotype propagated about them by the media.
Blending the best elements of "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander and "The Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome" by Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary with some rather novel ideas of his own, the author raises ten tough, but critical questions, each addressing a problem area presently plaguing the African-American psyche. "Why can't we build strong families?" "Why do we perpetuate black sexual stereotypes?" "Why are ‘black' and ‘beauty' still contradictions?" "Why do we keep killing each other?" "Why are we killing ourselves?" "Why can't we stop shopping?" Etcetera…
Devoting an entire chapter to each of the above inquiries, Burell explores his subject-matter at considerable length and depth with the hope of helping to eradicate self-destructive behaviors. He believes that people have to heal from the inside-out, so his solutions start with each individual's recognition that you've been brainwashed, and that you can reprogram your mind because it is ultimately under your control.
A potentially-transformative, seminal treatise provided readers are receptive to contemplating commonly-accepted practices like the use of the N-word, corporal punishment and hair relaxers as possibly the vestiges of a deep-seated self-hatred implanted in the brain by white supremacist notions.