The Pride and Knowledge of the Black Man

Shawn Slaughter Hamilton, IUP

I perceive myself as a very intellectual and intelligent being who seeks knowledge with passion and persistence. My role in producing new knowledge is critical. I don’t come from a prestigious neighborhood with scholars and overachievers. I come from a place where knowledge and wisdom are cast aside and shunned. Money, cars, clothes and women dominate our thoughts. Therefore, being the the knowledge seeker I am, I tend to be an outlier in my community. Every chance I get I try to share my wisdom and enlighten those around me who otherwise would have never attempted to gather and harness knowledge.

Where I’m from, a person who is smart is subconsciously viewed as weak. A physical presence is more prominent than an intellectual advantage. I often wonder where that comes from. But I came up with a hypothesis about why that is. I think it comes from ignorance, plain and simple. I have a story. I went to high school in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood. The values and behaviors that I observed were quite different from my hometown of Southwest Philadelphia. One of the first things I realized was that black men hold on to pride to the bitter end, almost to a fault; as a matter of fact, it is a fault. I once had a neighbor who told me that an offensive lineman on the school football team could kick his ass. My cousin and I were befuddled. We could not believe that someone would so openly admit that another individual, another human being who breathed the same air and bleeds the same blood, could physically best them in a physical altercation. We came from a place where saying or admitting things like that would be looked down upon as being weak. However in my latter days, this became a serious reality check. Not just for myself but for my entire community. Why is it so hard for us to put our pride to the side? To me this is more of a fundamental issue.

            I view the world around me as an infinite pool of new information and knowledge to be gained. To me, knowledge is any type of constructive information the the brain uses to form new neurological pathways between what we once knew, and what we have acquired. Knowledge can only be constructed, in my opinion, if the person acquiring the information subconsciously views the info given as something useful, whether good or bad.

            The future and my inevitable success obsesses me. It’s not a matter of if I will be successful, it’s more of a matter of when. I stress over the hows, but my resolve is everlasting. I wake up thinking about success. I go about my day with the thoughts of success lingering in the back of my head like how hanged toe nails linger and persists on a person’s mind. Sometimes I think I am going insane, but insanity and persistence are closely related.

            It’s ironic how my biggest fear, the lack of achieving a monumental feat and attaining my own peace and closure within myself, is the foil of my biggest goal in life. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I obsess over my own personal growth and development, mentally, spiritually, and physically. I obsess over what can be because I know my potential is unmeasurable