This is an extract from the book, The Maroon Within Us: Selected Essays on African American Community Socialization
by Asa G. Hilliard, lll
~~~~~~~~~~A people loosing sight of origins is dead, a people deaf to purposes are lost. Under fertile rains under scorching sunshine there is no difference: their bodies are mere corpses, awaiting final burial.
- Ayi Kwei Armah
In most places where people raise sheep, a special dog with a special training is used to watch a flock of sheep. If one of the sheep wanders, the sheepdog will bring it back. This dog will protect the sheep flock from all other animals, including other dogs. When the sheepdog is with his master, it is usually described as loyal, gentle, and intelligent. But the most striking part of the sheepdog's behaviour are all from the point of view of the master and involve the master's needs. The dog's own needs are not really considered, other than to determine how those needs may be used by the master to make the dog do what the master wishes.
How does this happen? How does a dog come to loose interest in it's own independent direction or in the direction which, as a member of a "dog family," is expected to keep? This is how it is done: At birth, the puppy is separated almost at once from all other dogs - from its brothers and sisters, from its family. It is then placed into a pen where there are nothing but sheep, including young lambs who are nursing. In its normal drive to satisfy hunger, it seeks out a ewe and tries to nurse from her, along with the other lambs. When it is successful, it continues, and is raised with sheeps and lambs until until it is sufficiently developed to be trained. Notice here that it continues to look like a dog as well. It will leave the track of a dog and have the speed and stregnth of a dog. Yet, while it has the intelligence of a dog it will develope the mind of a sheep! Once that happens, it no longer acts like, or in the interest of itself as a dog, or in the interest of other dogs. Notice also that this dog has mastered the "basic skills," from its master's point of view. It would have passed very high on the "D.A.T." "Dog Aptitude Test." Moreover, it will see its own brothers and sisters as "the enemy" since this dog does not know them as brothers or sisters.
What does this story teach? For the dog's master to work his will with the dog, he establishes a training, not an eductional process that had certain key features in it:
!. The dog was separated from its family and group at an early age.
2. It was continually isolated from them during its learning years.
3. It was placed into a sheep's (alien) environment.
4. It was fed a sheeps (alien) diet.
5. It was given a "special education"
6. It was totally dependent upon the master and never allowed to hunt for itself.
7. All the decisions about its training were made outside of the family and without its consultation.
Now one can see what must have happened to the dog so that it will dedicate its life to the service of others while seeing his own family as the enemy. Because of separation, it lost its people's collective memory or history. Without memory or history, neither the present nor the future can be interpreted. This is the first step towards developing dependency. The dog becomes totally dependent on the knowledge and interpretations of others. Because of isolation from its "people," it can not learn the normal survival rules and agenda for dogs. It can not learn from the experiences of other dogs nor test its sense of reality with theirs. It even loses opportunity to learn dog "language" so that it can "ask the questions" later on.
Because it grows up in a sheep's environment, it begins to live in a world of illusions, seeing itself as a sheep. Because it is nurtured on an alien diet, it comes to crave that diet and to depend upon those who could provide it, since it can not produce the diet for itself. Because of its "special education" it accepts training and confuses it with education (critical awareness). Because it is dependent, it can never challenge the master or "bite the hand that feeds it." Because none of the decisions about its training or education can be made by its parents, family, or community, and because it can only agree or disagree with what is provided, it becomes a living, breathing, highly skilled, and quite intelligent, robot. But to all outward appearances, few would ever know.
- Asa Hilliard