We’re all brainwashed…

Racism starts and ends with a story: the color of your skin is the worth of your humanity. The lighter your skin, the more evolved of a human you are.

The darker your skin, the more of a beast you are.We may disagree or deny the story, but it is baked into so much of our lives. It is perpetuated in media, neighborhoods, generational wealth, and physical and emotional health.
The story has built the society that we Americans take for granted, and if you aren’t already aware of this big lie, you’re probably brainwashed to be okay with it.

Tom Burrell offers a wake-up call and challenge to the myth of Black inferiority in his book Brainwashed. Burrell committed his 40-year career in marketing to promoting realistic and positive images of Black people in advertising. This book not only elucidates his perspective, but also compiles a mountain of evidence that reveals the extent of racial inequality in America, and analyzes the benefits and costs of the way we think about ourselves.

I appreciate Burrell for his relentless questioning of why things are the way that they are for Black people in the United States. He also does a great job of discerning fault from responsibility: Black people are not to blame for our challenges, yet we have the power to create new stories and communities that better reflect the truth and reality of our humanity.

You might be familiar with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, The danger of the single story. If her message, or any of this introduction registers with you, read this book. My life has not been the same since I did.

Here are some standout quotes from the book:

“To fix a problem you have to understand its roots”
“One of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time was the masterful marketing of the myth of black inferiority to justify slavery within a democracy”
“The illusion of racial progress paves the way for a nationwide survival-of-the-fittest mentality”
“The first step toward saving others’ lives is to appreciate the value of our own”
“Over time, I’ve learned that the root of the problem wasn’t what was being done to me- it was what I’d been brainwashed to feel about myself”
“The illusion that anyone can succeed -what I call the ‘paradox of progress’ – solidifies the myth of a ‘post-racial society’.”
“In today’s world, companies spend hundreds of millions, if not billions, to establish, promote, and protect their brands – Nike shoes, McDonald’s hamburgers, Apple computers, Starbucks coffee, United Airlines, Ivory soap. However, one of the first high-value brands in America was not an inanimate product. It was humans.”
“Deconstructing the very concept of ‘black family’ was central to the massive enterprise to build a new economy, and to lay the cornerstones of personal fortunes”
“To be black in America is to be tense, anxious, and often fearful if not outright angry.”“Blacks prefer the ‘superior beauty’ of whites “as uniformly as is the preference of the Oran-ootan for the black woman over those of his own species.” – quoting Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia

Similar Posts