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  • Writer's pictureAaron Braxton

Deprogramming African American Minds

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

Why is anyone surprised that a 23-year veteran White police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man in Minnesota? The same state where George Floyd was murdered. The same state where the officer accused, is on trial. When is this country going to truly admit that there is a systemic, total disregard for the lives of African Americans, specifically African American men at its most visceral level?

In an era of Black Lives Matter, an officer took out her gun, and under the auspices of a "mistake," murdered a young man in cold blood. What's extremely telling is; BLACK POLICE OFFICERS aren't going out and viciously murdering White citizens, then hiding behind, "Oops, I made a mistake. My bad," then blatantly allowed to resign and receive full pension.

Until this country admits that racial biases are deeply embedded in the fabric and DNA of this country, those that govern and enforce laws, will continue to pillage and hunt the African American community with impunity.

Together, we can change this, by fearlessly speaking truth to power. Already, I've witness it happening. Young and old are marching in the streets and protesting. Officers are no longer hiding behind, "Codes of Blue." There's a increasing sentiment amongst our population that is saying, "Enough is enough!"

But we, within the African American community, can do much more. Let's start by acknowledging that racism is systematic. Then consciously and subconsciously beginning to "program," a sense of pride within ourselves and our community. Then let's begin deprogramming hate and miseducation by truly understanding the facts behind the relevancy of our incarceration rates.

The penal “system,” has African Americans believing we are inherently prone to misconduct and criminal activity. We represent less than 15% of the United States population, but approximately 40% of the prison population. (In some states it’s grossly higher.) That is not because we are inherently inclined to be lawless. The truth is; it's by sinister and economic design.

This country was built on free labor. It needs it to sustain itself. Before slavery, the African American prison population was less than 5%. After slavery, when the South was obliterated and on the brink of bankruptcy. They needed a new system based on free labor. So, they desperately, immorally, and let’s face it, ingeniously, instituted the Black Codes.

The Black Codes were laws created to force African Americans into prison in order to continue slavery so that prisoners could to be rented out to industry and thus, creating revenue for the counties and states. It also satisfied the South’s incessant thirst for cheap labor. Sadly, it's a system that is still being orchestrated and practiced in one form or another today.

I once read an article that discussed why the Civil Rights Movement was so successful in the 60’s. The article concluded that the reason was because, at no point in American history, were there more African Americans educated or being educated.

Education is important and imperative to our survival because it teaches one to think, and most importantly, to question. Once one begins to question, one begins to seek answers. Once one begins to seek answers, one begins experiencing change and a paradigm shift occurs. One is no longer satisfied with the status quo and begins to do their part in affecting revitalization and growth.

So, let’s start by deprograming the negative influences that constantly permeate our existence and replace them with who we really are: Resilient, Powerful and immensely Creative. By stepping into who we really are, we are not only capable of shaping policy, but changing the world.

Aaron Braxton is an award winning writer/actor living in Los Angeles. He can be contacted at


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