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Family Heritage Reading Room Keynote Speech

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Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D.
As the keynote speaker, to an overflow audience at the grand  opening of the San Bernardino City Unified African American Family Heritage Reading Room


(1525 W. Highland Ave) on 2/28/09 and headed by Tanya Fisher, I complemented them on putting together a beautiful facility for the instruction of young children.

Then I proceeded saying how my approach to helping Black youth differed from my parents.  For youth in our all-Black community in Greensboro, North Carolina my parents established a YMCA and YWCA and did what it took to provide low income housing for Black families.

However, my involvement came from being touched deeply by high school classmates, some brilliant and some with uncultivated world-class talent, who were dropping out of school at an alarming rate. I vowed to one day do what I could to try and slow down this waste. Thereafter, throughout my education, training, and medical practice particular attention was paid to what made people on all rungs of the social ladder successful or not. In the late 1970’s I started a program to teach Black youth how to think critically and rationally under the belief that such tools would enable them detect and solve their own problems.  Results were disappointing because I did not understand their layers of mental barriers surrounding their Real Selves. This is like each leaf of a head of lettuce (representing an achievement barrier) covering the core (ones Real Self).  Furthermore, that head of lettuce is like being inside a locked vault (representing their delusional world in which they live).

Together, these “Heads of lettuce in a vault” were unable to receive of academic education. So, the question was: “How do I get them to connect with their Real

Selves?” The first step was to go on a marathon of research to learn details of how Black youth’s Ancient African Ancestors used their brains around 5500 BC because this was the most brilliant time in the history of mankind, based upon my study of all the world’s major cultures, philosophies, and religions. What they did was to perfect the skills of their Left and Right Brains, and with the Right Brain orchestrating the

Left. Next was to learn how the prism of African American slavery altered the minds of enslaved Africans. The European captors took away the Slaves’ Left Brain skills—those which specialize in thinking in a rational and critical thinking step-by-step manner—like a calculator by not giving them anything to think about and by not allowing them to read, write, or count. This meant the Slaves’ Right Brains became undisciplined—a situation of mind usage culturally transmitted to their today’s descendants. Then in studying contemporary Black American history I realized that for struggling Black youth there has been no time since slavery when their Left Brain skills have been brought up to speed and thereby able to discipline their Right Brains.

Correction of this deficit is by the parent, teacher, and individual efforts aimed at cultivating youth’s Left and Right Brain skills—as successful Black Americans have done. As a toddler, my Mother read to me every night while I had fun imagining what was going on in the story—a skill transferable to listening to “the Shadow” on radio and looking at the clouds. Black teachers powerfully impacted our student minds by teaching us truths from African Tradition philosophy and practices. By contrast, 99% of what Black kids are taught today is not Afrocentric truth—and Black students do not understand any other type. Our teachers ensured we were open to the wonders of the world and exposed us to all sorts of things to heighten our curiosity and improve our understanding. Together, we focused on the sciences, business, the arts, and the humanities so as to open and stretch our minds to ideas, to people, and to Nature.  Great effort was spent on teaching us to do critical and rational thinking. We were not asked if we were going to college but “Where?” Of greatest importance is that they embraced us, loved us, and stood with us rather than merely teaching at us.

website: www.jablifeskills.com

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