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.
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: