Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

ENTERTAINMENT/ ARTS/ LITERATURE => Arts & Music => Topic started by: Tyehimba on September 22, 2003, 09:23:55 AM

Title: Racism and Mis-Education (Reloaded): 'The Matrix'
Post by: Tyehimba on September 22, 2003, 09:23:55 AM

Racism and Mis-Education (Reloaded): 'The Matrix' Themes Applied To The
Black World Experience

For African Americans and most people of African descent the themes in
The Matrix movies can have particular meaning. A major theme in the
movies is the need to free oneís mind to see the reality of the world in
order to overcome oppression. One can easily apply this theme to the
needs of people of African descent, because of centuries of racism,
racial violence and oppression, the need to free oneís mind as a means
to overcome oppression is required. This theme has been echoed by black
scholars and activist for centuries from Carter G. Woodson and Malcolm X
to Kwame Nkrumah to Stephen Biko and Nelson Mandela. Here several themes
from the popular Matrix movies will be explored and applied to the needs
and experiences of the peoples of the African Diaspora.

Wake Up

In the movie, The Matrix the Laurence Fishburne character Morpheus
express the  need for humanity to wake up. Albeit in a different way,
there has been a sense by many for the need for the black world to wake
up. It is arguable that the  black world and as a consequence the world
at large suffers from a sort of  mental imprisonment. In this matrix
like scenario, the limitations conscious  and subconscious have been
placed on the black mind, through hundreds of years of  slavery,
colonialism, violence, lynching, segregation,  creating a perverse
unreal world. A world where black children are taught the wonders of
European civilizations and nothing of their own accomplishments.   They
are given an education that perpetuate a society based on race that is
not real.   The great historian, Carter G. Woodson echoed this point in
The Mis-Education of the Negro,

ìHISTORY shows, then, that as a result of these unusual forces in the
education of the Negro he easily learns to follow the line of least
resistance rather than battle against odds for what real history has
shown to be the right course. A mind that remains in the present
atmosphere never undergoes sufficient development to experience what is
commonly known as thinking. No Negro thus submerged in the ghetto, then,
will have a clear conception of the present status of the race or
sufficient foresight to plan for the future; and he drifts so far toward
compromise that he loses moral courage. The education of the Negro,
then, becomes a perfect device for control from without. Those who
purposely promote it have every reason to rejoice, and Negroes
themselves exultingly champion the cause of the oppressor.î

The ëwake upí theme has also appeared in Spike Leeís movie School Daze
addressed albeit in a different wayó that African Americans have been
sleep walking in America, mentally enslaved to do what is told including
discriminate against each other based on complexion. Frantz Fannon
discussed this issue in his writings The Wretched of the Earth and Black
Skin White Masks applying this theory to the African colonial and
neo-colonial mind. He explored how essentially the mind of the oppressor
can be placed into the mind of the oppressed. Creating a perverse
reality where the oppressed consciously or subconsciously does the
bidding of the oppressor. You think this idea is insane? Think about
Mobutu and other African dictators who bled their own countries wealth
for self and for foreign investors exactly the way in which colonial
economic relationships worked.

The One

In the The Matrix movies Morpheus considers the Keanu Reevesí character
Neo to be ëthe oneí. The one who will lead to the defeat of the
machines. This theme too has been echoed throughout the black
experience. There have been many leaders and heroís considered to be the
ìoneî to lead the people out of ignorance of the reality of this world
like the Keanu Reevesí character Neo. The list reads off like a black
history month book report: Martin Luther King, Jr. (killed), Malcolm X
(killed) Marcus Garvey (deported) Huey Newton (killed) Medgar Evers
(killed) even as far back as Nat Turner (killed) Patrice Lumumba
(killed) Kwame Nkrumah (overthrown) Mandela (imprisoned later freed).
All of those who have been considered to be the One were eliminated one
way or the other by ìThe Matrix.î

You know something what you know you canít explain but you feel it. You
felt it your entire life; that there is something wrong with the world,
you donít know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind
driving you mad.

In the original Matrix film Laurence Fishburne explains to Keanu Reeves
how he feels living in the Matrix, what we commonly refer to as the real
world. One would be hard pressed to find an African American or person
of African descent who does not feel out of place in this world. However
this feeling does not apply to people of color alone. During the Iraq
anti-war protest and during anti-world bank protests which is usually
young and white there were a few who do not know why they are protesting
is just that they feel something is wrong, that they cannot explain. It
is the same system. It is a racist system, it is a exploitive profit
driven system and violence driven system. It  is all around us, you can
feel it when you go to work, when you go to church it is all around us.
It is the world pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. The
truth that we are all slaves born into a prison for our minds. The
cubicles, the commute to work, the rent the paychecks the routine its
all unnatural but we all do it anyway. The angst and anger felt because
there is a sense of being imprisoned by a 21st century pursuit of
capital reality that feels unnatural to the human psyche.

Donít think you are; know you are. Free your mind. No fear, no doubt, no
disbelief. Free your mind.

This quote from The Matrix also echoes a major theme in Woodsonís
Mis-Education. Woodson states, ìThe lack of confidence of the Negro in
himself and his possibilities is what has kept him down. His
mis-education has been a perfect success in this respect. ì Knowing
oneís history and culture gives one a sense of self and purpose. Most
African Americans and Africans in the diaspora submerged in the ghettoes
of Chicago or the ghettoes of Johannesburg or the ghettoes of Rio do not
have the knowledge of self needed to overcome the systematic matrix of

Proponents of African-centered education and multi-cultural education
echo the value of such an education because it does give a sense of
value and perspective that a European centered education can not
provide. There are many people of African descent from African Americans
to Afro-cubans to native Africans that do not know of the great African
empires of great African explorers and great freedom fighters who
resisted slavery and colonialism. That history did not begin when the
Europeans made contact with Africa. This ill-equipped education also
disserves whites who are also not given a true picture of the world.

In order the peoples of African descent to truly be free the collective
minds must be free. Must be free of all the lies told and perpetrated
through years of mis-education, propaganda, and self-hate. In order for
the collective minds to be free, the paradigm of racism, slavery
colonialism, imperialism, self-hate, and violence must be destroyed. In
the final analysis in order for all people to be free the matrix of
racism must be destroyed. As Morpheus tells Neo before they first meet
the oracle: I can only show you the door, you have to go through it.