For the readers who don’t know me personally, a few of my strongest character traits have always been a love of knowledge, critical thinking, and ingenuity. That’s why I tend to gravitate towards sites that take a more scholarly approach to Black Revolutionary thought (like Atlanta Bred), while at the same time steering clear of ghetto scholarship and spookism.
These traits have blessed me with a great deal of erudition that I have chosen to contribute to our collective intelligence via this site. If you weren’t blessed with the same strengths that I have, the good news is that these strengths are relatively easy to develop…and everyone reading United Black America should be devoted to increasing their knowledge for three reasons:
1. Knowledge is a source of personal power that can be gained regardless of who and where you are.
2. People in general respect and admire those with a great deal of knowledge (keep in mind, I am talking about those individuals with some semblance of civilization, not the ghetto, Steppen-Fetchit, profanity spewing, Dougie-dancing Neo-coons that measure men by their “swag” and aggression and measure women solely by their physical features. Their opinions don’t matter, unless of course you would rather be like them.)
As a side thought, I wonder if as many readers would flock to Very Smart Brothas if the site was actually called Very Ignorant Brothas. I might go buy the URL just to experiment with that idea. Maybe even conduct an impromptu study on the results.
3. Individuals with high knowledge power are far more influential than people with low knowledge power. Before he was President, Barack Obama was a professor. Coincidence? Nope.
With that being said, there are four specific ways that anyone, regardless of their level of institutional academic proficiency can develop their knowledge power as it relates specifically to Black Scholarship; via comprehensive reading, writing, oration, and debate. You can choose to develop these skill sets one by one or all together, but in this age of information, you are failing if you chose to remain ignorant of your weaknesses in any of the aforementioned areas.
Knowledge can be gained a number of different ways. You can learn to run a business by watching an experienced entrepreneur in action, you can learn to repair cars by trying to fix yours on your own, and you can learn to speak a different language by listening to native speakers. But of all these methods, the quickest and easiest way to develop your knowledge power is by reading comprehensively. The word comprehensive is defined as all or nearly all elements or aspects of something; wide ranging. Your reading should be as varied as your diet hopefully is. Speaking of diet, treat the books, blogs, and publications that you read like a mental diet. There’s nothing wrong with consuming a little junk, but as it is with your food diet, so too should it be with your intellectual diet.
If you need some ideas on what you should be reading to round out your “black” knowledge, start with my list of 100 Best Black books (click here). Otherwise, you should be reading anything thats going to help you further your aims. If you want to open a restaurant, become financially independent, or learn computer programming, commit yourself to pucking up and studying books on the subject. Add history, philosophy, and science books to your reading list and you should be good.
Oh, and when you come across words you dont know, look them up. Make it a point to use the word three times that day, and make it a permanent part of your vocabulary. I use Wordsmith to help me constantly develop my vocabulary, and I reccomend it to you as well.
The only thing better for your brain than reading is writing. The act of writing has always been a sacred act for the melanated man and woman. The Egyptians valued the act of writing so dearly that they called their hieroglyphs the Medu Netcher, or “the words of the gods”, because they believed in fact that both writing and language came from Thoth, the keeper of records among the gods. It was also believed by the Kemites that the words of the gods were things, therefore, when the Gods spoke things came into existence. To write hieroglyphs was to speak “god-language” and bring things into existence. Whatever your spiritual inclination, I think we can all agree that the act of writing significantly improves ones ability to organize thoughts. For instance, while I write this, my conscious mind is forced to enter my mental storehouse of impressions, ideas, memories, and things that I have learned over the course of my whole life. I am, in fact, bringing back into my mental forefront things that I might have almost forgotten or lessons that I learned years before (like how to use a damned semicolon). Writing pulls forth all this latent information, dusts it off, and puts it to use, and the more information you can retrieve, the more intelligent you will become.
Journaling, blogging, writing song lyrics and poetry, taking notes from the books that you are reading all go a long way towards helping you develop your expressiveness and intelligence with the pen. I try to write something at some length on a daily basis.
Oratory, or “Linguistic intelligence”, is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language. Just like writing, speaking requires you to dig into your mental file cabinet and produce thoughts and mental images that align with the words coming out of your mouth. Oratory skills can be improved pretty easily with practice, but like all skills and intelligences, you will need to stick with it. Tavis Smiley became the speaker he is today by practicing Martin Luther King Jr speeches as a child. Abraham Lincoln spent many years polishing his speaking abilities, from his youth to his presidency. Marcus Garvey spent long hours practicing and perfecting his style before becoming the master speaker that rallied millions of Black men and women in the early 20th century. If you have never heard Marcus Garvey speak, you will enjoy this right here:
The three easiest and fastest ways to improve your linguistic intelligence is by
1. Reading, printing out, and practice speeches that other great speakers have given. Work on developing both your expressiveness along with your vocabulary
2. Join a group like Toastmasters
3. Learn a foreign language (increases intelligence, opens new neural pathways in the brain, and excellerates creative and logical thinking)
It should go without saying that unless you have read comprehensively and have some knowledge to impart to your listeners, you shouldnt try to teach and speak.
I wrote in an earlier post that the purpose of debates are to educate and to gain education. The educator is the person who has conducted primary research and can offer the most relevant facts. Opinions are not facts. At the end of the debate, a summary of points of agreement should be reviewed, as well as lessons learned and issues that require further
If you find yourself in a debate, be comfortable with the idea that you might be wrong. You might be trying to stand on the losing argument. No one is all right, all the time. Accept your loss, gain education from it, and add the other persons position to your own knowledge database.
with that being said, if you havent figured it out by now, intelligence is developed by training your brain to capture, retrieve, and use information quickly and accurately. Debating demands that you do all of these things while at the same time listening to your adversary and crafting a strategy to torpedo his or her argument. The benefits of debating go beyond the good feeling you get from proving your point. Benefits include an improvement in critical thinking skills, problem solving, innovative thinking, information synthesis, and an improvement in self directed learning. John Hopkins Universtiy determined that students that participated in debate regularly excelled in written and oral communication, and greatly improve their readingcomprehension (sometimes 25% more than their peers), and that the average debate team has a GPA of 3.75 (andit is often higher), and the average debate student is in the top 10% of his or her high school class. Debate students also score better on the ACT and SAT than theirpeers,13 and are consistently admitted to prestigious post-secondary institutions.14 A stunning 98.58% of debatestudents attend college, and debate participation increases the chances of being offered college scholarships.
Debate gives you a chance to really demonstrate the intelligence that you have developed thus far, while also exposing you to new arguments, new perspectives, and new ways of thinking. In my humble opinion, watching a good debate is like watching two equally matched Kung Fu masters fighting….the culmination of years of knowledge and training being leveraged in raw and brutal intellectual warfare.
So with all that being said, one should consistently and perpetually cultvate ones knowledge, and expose that knowledge to the world so that its accuracy can be confirmed or refined. Black scholarship is a worthy and most necessary endeavor for all of us as culture warriors, liberators of our people, and inspirations to the world at large.