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                                                               From The Ramparts

                                                              Junious Ricardo Stanton

                                                            Cognitive Dissonance


            "Cognitive dissonance: an uncomfortable psychological state in which the individual experiences two incompatible beliefs or cognitions. Cognitive dissonance theory holds that the individual is motivated by the attendant discomfort to act in such a manner s to reduce dissonance." Dictionary of Psychology Second Revised Edition


            Since our enslavement in this country, Africans in America have been subjected to an intense multi-generational campaign of brainwashing and programming designed to make us loath ourselves and view Europeans has gods or at least invulnerable natural masters. Every institution created and maintained by the Europeans is designed to promote white supremacy and concomitant Black subjugation. This programming was initiated during the so called breaking period when our ancestors were kidnapped from Africa, brought to the Caribbean and North America, subjected to horrific torture, abuses, rape, degradation, brutality and brainwashing until they died, escaped or were granted freedom.

            "The first step advised those who wrote discourses on the management of slaves, was to establish and maintain strict discipline... The second step was to implant in the bondsman themselves a consciousness of personal inferiority. The had 'to know and keep their places' to "feel the difference between master and slave', to understand that bondage was their natural status. They had to feel that African ancestry tainted them, that their color was a badge of degradation. In the country they were to show respect for even their master's non-slaveholding neighbors; in the town they were to give way on the streets to the most wretched white man." The Peculiar Institution Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South Kenneth M.  Stampp page 144-45

            With the end of formal slavery, Blacks were subjected to quasi slavery under an insidious system of  stifling and oppressive color caste, sharecropping, tenant farming and convict leasing. Inherent in this system were attempts to keep Blacks ignorant and brainwashed to believe we were inherently inferior and woefully inadequate.

            The "Civil Rights" movement valiantly strove to break down state sanctioned apartheid in the US, court cases were filed and won,  laws were written  and passed with the intent to make society more open and accessible. Nevertheless the consciousness that created and maintained this racist system in the first place still exists and is deeply rooted in the American psyche. 

            Anti-Black programming still exists and we still find ourselves holding contrasting perceptions and ideas about o urselves. On one hand we are told by whites, slavery wasn't so bad, get over it, segregation has been eliminated and we live in a "post racial" society; yet looking at housing and school attendance patterns, incarceration rates, wealth and income, it is clear racial inequality remains high and upward socio-economic mobility remains elusive for many Blacks. But many Blacks think they have arrived and  racial disparity doesn't impact them.

            " Social mobility is the ability of an individual or family to improve (or lower) their economic status. The two main types of social mobility are intergenerational (i.e., a person is better off than their parents or grandparents) or intragenerational (i.e., income changes within a person or group’s lifetime). While there is no truly adequate gauge to measure such opportunities, we can get a fair estimate based on measurements of social mobility. And by that measure, African Americans are fairing poorly. The Brookings Institute recently highlighted three disturbing facts about the social mobility of black Americans. "We have written previously on the lower rates of upward mobility and the higher rates of downward mobility for black Americans; but like most researchers, our focus has been on data from the last few decades. William Collins and Marianne Wanamaker have been more ambitious, reaching back to the 19th century. With a dataset comprised of Census microfilm, WWII draft records, and Ancestry.com records, they are able to study linked pairs of fathers and their sons all the way back to 1880, and up to the end of the 20th century. Their findings, published in an NBER working paper,Up from slavery? African American intergenerational economic mobility since 1880, are striking. Imputing income using individual characteristics, including occupation, region, and gender, Collins and Wanamaker find that black sons have historically been significantly less likely than their white peers from similar economic backgrounds to ascend the income ladder. Black sons were less likely than their white peers to enjoy higher-earning jobs than the ones their fathers had, so their incomes were lower. This mobility gap can be seen across the entire period. Even for the latest cohort (with earnings observed in 1990), they find a yawning gap in upward economic mobility between black and white sons from similar backgrounds—somewhat smaller than existed in 1900 or 1930, but still huge." https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-century-gap-low-economic-mob...

            So called "middle class" Blacks are oblivious to the fact their white peers earn more and own much more accumulated wealth than they do. On one hand they believe they are doing really well because they have jobs and incomes their parents did not have access to a generation ago, but the fact is we are not on par economically with whites.

             "The racial wealth gap is much larger than the wage or income gap by race. Average wealth for white families is seven times higher than average wealth for black families. Worse still, median white wealth (wealth for the family in the exact middle of the overall distribution—wealthier than half of all families and less-wealthy than half) is twelve times higher than median black wealth. More than one in four black households have zero or negative net worth, compared to less than one in ten white families without wealth, which explains the large differences in the racial wealth gap at the mean and median.  These raw differences persist, and are growing, even after taking age, household structure, education level, income, or occupation in....


            The cognitive dissonance comes when bougie Negroes who look down on their less affluent brethren think they are equal to white folks. This is why we still see the conspicuous consumption and delusional behaviors sociologist E Franklin Frazier wrote about in his book Black Bourgeoisie in1957, fifty years ago despite the "civil rights" gains of the 50's and 60's. Speaking about the bougie Negroes of his era Frazier wrote, "They seek an escape in delusions involving wealth. This is facilitated by the fact they have had little experience with the real meaning of wealth and that they lack a tradition of saving and accumulation. Wealth to them means spending money without any reference to it source... Moreover the attraction of the delusion of wealth is enhanced by the belief that wealth will gain them acceptance in American life." page 230

            The cognitive dissonance and disconnect is the fact they are not rich in the true sense of owning wealth generating assets as opposed to just wages. Obviously the wealth wipe out of the 2008 recession has not awakened us to the realities of American living and the wealth divide.




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