MadameNoire Featured Video

The explanation by Caspar Schott of how he thought the Egyptian priest used the principle of the camera obscura to display miraculous messages.

Source: Universal History Archive / Getty

The thing about waking up from a long deep sleep is that it can be slightly discombobulating. Sleep is vital to our health, but too much can indicate a more pressing issue and extended periods of impaired consciousness can have long-term effects on one’s health. Hypersomnia, or severe excessive sleepiness, can result in feelings of disorientation, lethargy and memory loss. Similarly, people who wake up from comas often deal with confusion, agitation and memory loss, requiring time to adjust to their sudden consciousness, a situation Black people understand all too well. Although we’re discussing two very different forms of unconsciousness, the physical variety and the mental one, ironically the implication is one and the same. For some Black people, many of whom have been mentally mummified for the last few generations, the recent social wokeness has been slightly overwhelming, pushing them into a paranoid state where everything must be looked at with suspicion and skepticism, even the most basic fundamental truths. And when factoring into the equation the deception that led to their unconscious state in the first place, it’s understandable why they would experience such skepticism. But as a collective, it’s time we established that white supremacy and scholarship are not synonymous.

My father used to tell me all the time growing up that education was “the great equalizer,” that the things I could know for myself, no one could take from me. As I got older, I realized just how powerful that statement was. In the classrooms of my pale private school, I was bombarded with discussions of Hippocrates and Pythagoras, Plato and Descartes, I was constantly hearing about the greatness of these Greek civilizations and their philosophers, but no mention of Africa where this knowledge was acquired. One day I asked my teacher why we had completely omitted the origins of these discoveries, why we had solely focused on Grecian figures when history told us that these individuals were simply students of greater philosophers, African ones. My classmates chuckled, amused at the thought that Africa, of all places, could in any way be responsible for concepts like philosophy and astronomy, but these were things I knew for myself and they couldn’t take from me what I knew for myself. My teacher never answered my question but we did meet with the principal later on that day to determine how long I’d be in detention for “challenging authority.” That day I learned an important lesson in white supremacy: your knowledge is a far greater threat than any contentious ignorance.

We’re in an interesting space as a race of people. Much of our history in the country has been distorted or deleted altogether, and although the countries of our origin still hold so much information, they’re just an ocean and a DNA test away. With the accessibility of the Internet, many of us have found solace in being able to explore these many mysteries via the computer, but if we know anything about the Internet, we know that it’s a dangerous place. What’s come of our digital thirst for knowledge has been both a blind acceptance of things which hold little truth and a rushed rejection of things that hold the most truth. From reverse slave trade theories to the indigenous melanated American myth, to the rejection of modern medicine and everything in between, we’ve become so disillusioned by learning of the many falsehoods told to us in our dormancy that we’ve come to reject anything that gives the impression it came from the same source. Especially when it comes to concepts lauded as having played essential roles in establishing the structures and systems we have today.

Take for example mathematics, most high school level mathematics concepts derived from ancient Africa, and we’re not talking Egypt, we’re talking numeration systems out of Zaire and algebraic equations out of the Nile. Astronomy is no exception. The Dogon people of Mali knew of and documented Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, the spiral structure of the Milky Way and the orbit of the Sirius star system, long before the West had stolen the papyrus to print it on. Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda spearheaded metallurgy and tool making advances, surpassing European concepts by 2,000 years. And countless medical procedures were successfully performed throughout the continent of Africa long before European civilizations had the knowledge or the technology to pull them off. And we’re talking autopsies, limb traction and broken bone setting, bullet removal, brain surgery, skin grafting, dental cavity filling, false teeth installation, Caesarean sections, anesthesia, tissue cauterizations, and vaccinations (that’s right, vaccinations), all invented and perfected on the continent of Africa. So what does all of this mean? It means that scholarship and white supremacy are not synonymous and rejecting scholarship as such doesn’t make you enlightened, it makes you uninformed.

We don’t challenge the system by trying to convince YouTube that the world is flat (it’s not, by the way). We don’t tackle institutionalized racism and injustices by knowing less about the world we live in, nor do we advance ourselves by honing in on pseudosciences and making them the crux for our jointedness. We don’t all need to follow holistic remedies or claim indigenous ancestry in order to cultivate our own social progress, and our pseudo-scientific prerequisites for kinship aren’t as righteous as we’d like to believe. The response to white supremacy shouldn’t be the rejection of knowledge and information, it should be the intentional absorption and application of them both. If our mental consciousness doesn’t better our physical state, then what purpose has it served?

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