The Dumbing Down of Black Males: From School to Being Cool

By:  Asher Primus

Despite the wack BET Awards, there was a bit of excitement when Joe Budden got fed up with the Migo’s country grammar, I mean poor grammar.  The issue of mumble rap has been a hindrance in hip-hop way before Future, Kodak Black and Lil Uzi Vert.  Black men and poor grammar has been a running joke on why they are stereotyped as uneducated.  Despite the educated black men who are fighting the stereotypes, there is a reality that black boys in school are not reading on grade level and are far behind on other subjects.

I remember when I was in high school and there was a mandatory literacy test.  The results were that the average reading level was 4th grade.  My former school has had a bad reputation and many nerds from magnet schools loved to gloat on how advanced they were.  I was supposed to be one of them, but my application got rejected, due to my grades in 8th grade.  Regardless, I was always used to being the smartest one in the room.  No one would socialize with me, unless it was for group work.  Most of the time, I would always be the one contributing to everything.  I also noticed how black boys who did not care about school, had it easy as all they had to do was write their name on the test just to earn a “C.”

Uneducated black boys become the face of black boyhood period.  Granted, I do not block community activists wanting to get them on par to either go to college or just to get a high school diploma before they turn 21.  They always overshadow black boys who have started right from the beginning.  Compare the number of television shows that cater to the ignorance or juvenile correction programs versus television shows where black men are seen as geniuses.

Again, uneducated men have created a privilege in our communities as ignorance becomes the quota for blackness.  Let’s try a new synopsis in comparison with the conscious community.  Black men who cannot afford college or never finished school are now religious leaders telling black people the ‘white’s science’ are lies, but if I asked Mr. Hotep on how stars are created he would talk about made up conscious African folklore, use the word Melanin out of context and sprinkle ‘the black woman is God’ for good measure.  It was already bad enough that these same dudes are telling black women that their menstrual cycle is unnatural because they are black.

I have to partially blame the failed revolutionaries of the 70s and 80s.  Black men were so worried about fighting the man to have sex with white women that they dumbed themselves down with their own Kool-Aid.  The black talk and nationalism did not descend to their sons.  Instead, their sons hated blackness, but did take a few notes from their black nationalist fathers as they hated the system and rejected education.  It does not surprise me that major cities and states that are known for breeding the best and worst of hip-hop artists such as, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Atlanta have been highlighted as having the worst schools and test scores in the country.  California for example, reported this year that 75% of their black boys do not meet state reading standards.

Black boys are going to continue to suffer when fame offers cool and more black approved options.  The mumbling rapper does not become the ‘new black,’ but the ‘ole black’ from the Jim Crow era when whites used racist propaganda like the original Birth of a Nation to spread the idea that black men are too silly and uneducated to be free men and have political office.

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