Literary Analysis Essay on Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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The book Brainwashed, by Tom Barrel focuses on several elements leading to the conclusion that the psyche of a considerable number of black Americans has been plagued by brainwashing. The first consideration would involve the identification of the authors theory or thesis. The author takes note of different elements to explain the concept of brainwashing among the black Americans. The inclusion of the history of the African-American community constitutes the several elements considered. He thoughtfully analyzes the hip-hop culture and the manner in which the culture influences the negative portrayal of women as sluts and light-skinned black women as trophies.

Regardless of the dangers or damaging portrayal of this culture, the author puts forward different pointers that are essential for encouraging and uplifting the black people. However, an individual can look at the pointers thinly since the author delineates the problems they face on a much higher scale. In this case, the author haphazardly elaborates the manner in which the black community could fix the different issues they were or are facing, most of which portray their race as brainwashed. Perhaps, Burrells intention is to influence the thinking of individuals in the sense that he wishes to ensure that the next generation of the black community could focus on changing their perceptions in life. The changes are fundamental to ensuring that they do not only change themselves, but they also change the manner in which they perceive other people in the community.



The introductory part of the essay identifies the author and the book used for the argumentative essay. In this case, the book to be used for analysis will be Tom Burrells Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority. Burrell has presented several elements that will act as a guide to the argument related to the idea that the black people are inferior individuals in the society. Among the examples provided by the author is that the black community in America is seemingly comfortable with the idea that they could call themselves niggers, which is something that they find normal. On the other hand, the provision that Christians have accepted to take care of their pastors, instead of the opposite, is also another indicator that they are enslaved to the idea that they are inferior to somebody they consider superior.

The introduction also provides the thesis of the essay. This thesis indicates that the achievement and advancement of the black population have been thwarted by their mental setup, which is characterized by the acceptance of their inferior status in the society. This thesis will provide the direction needed to ensure that the arguments for and against the theory are understood. Conversely, it acts as a guide that will inform the conclusion. The other inclusion in the introduction is a summary of the book. The summary provides the overall elements that make up the reason for the authors theory, including the reason for indicating that the inferiority of the black people has remained the same for a significant number of years as provided for by some examples.


The body of the essay focuses on the primary argument of the paper, which supports the provision that several demeaning actions of the white population against African Americans during slavery created stereotypical thinking. The first section will provide several paragraphs supporting the essays thesis, consequently citing different examples that support this position. Among the supporting reasons is the dependency of the African Americans. From the example, as presented by the author, it will be possible to reveal the reason for the negativity of the black people.

The other supporting argument is based on the untruths that were provided for by white people in the past, most of which have influenced different institutions and individuals in the contemporary society. For instance, some of the inaccurate elements identified have had an impact on the self-esteem of the black people, consequently affecting their worldview as well as their status in the society. The susceptibility of the black population, with regard to modern advertising, is also another element that is considered in the argument supporting the thesis. The paper observes that the media is primarily responsible for enhancing their susceptibility and the acceptance by some of the African Americans as inferior to the white people in the society. Those that might have accepted their position in the society are the ones that presumably influence the conclusion that they are mentally not in a position to recognize themselves as equals when they are compared to the white people.

Regardless of the arguments put forth in support of the thesis, it would be essential to look into other elements that dispute the thesis. In this light, the essay addresses some of the issues, events or individuals that can act as reference points for disputing the idea that the black people of America are mentally enslaved. The events considered in the counterarguments are essential for indicating a shift from the authors conclusion regarding the mental enslavement of the black population. Conversely, the paper will look into factors that refute the argument that the hip-hop culture has led the black American youth to consider themselves as inferior individuals since the concept of culture has different ingredients that should be considered. One of the elements within a particular culture that is recognized in the paper is language. The use of unconventional language might be one of the elements that characterize this culture, which might not be used as a reference to indicate that the blacks are mentally enslaved.


The conclusion is the final part of the paper. This section will revisit the authors theory as well as the thesis that forms the foundation of the argumentative essay. The conclusion highlights the theories and supporting reasons provided for and against the thesis. In this case, the conclusion revisits the compelling points given to refute or support the idea that the mental enslavement of the black people in the American society hinders them from progressing.

Literary Analysis Essay

Using black inferiority as a measure of status

Tom Burrell, in his book, Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, examines the background and reasons why a considerable number of black people think of themselves as slaves in the contemporary society. Many of the black people look upon themselves as slaves regardless of the Emancipation Proclamation that occurred more than a century ago. The author questions why the black community thinks so little of themselves, to which he provides different examples such as the idea that young people answer when their peers or friends call them niggers (Burrell 281). He also questions the notion that the people care more for their pastors than the care that the pastors are obliged to provide to their flock (Burrell 275). These examples support Burrells theory, which states that black people have been brainwashed to believe that they do not deserve to prosper, earn fundamental human dignity, and achieve their dreams or desires. In this regard, the consideration of black people as inferior could be the element that hinders their achievement or advancement in the modern society.

Burrells thought-provoking book focuses on the problems that are infecting the black people in America. He dwells on the different elements that have infected the mental spaces of the black people, consequently providing explanations regarding the reasons for their feelings and beliefs. These reasons are primarily based on the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and societal generalizations that lead to the brainwashing of the African American people. In this case, the author asserts that the black people in the American society are mentally enslaved through brainwashing, which has led to the overall acceptance that they are inferior. The affected to not only accept their situation, but they perpetuate it as well. Burrell provides that the black members of the community have been conditioned to view themselves as individuals without the power to make positive decisions. They have not made a collective effort to stop the manner in which the media portrays them as sluts or studs, among other negative tags (Burrell 98). He displays the parallelism that exists between the foundation of their attitudes and the untruths that did not only begin during the era of slavery, but they endure to this date. However, he also presents different proposals that would assist the black people to redeem themselves from the mental enslavement.

In this unprecedented as well as a powerful point in the history of the American nation, a considerable number of people are frustrated with the idea that the African American people are still dependent on handouts. The frustration primarily emanates from well-wishers or colleagues. The other frustrating element that affirms the argument that the black community is inferior is based on the aspect that they young people do not have respect for anyone or anything. More damning is the idea that they do not have respect for themselves. These provisions could be used as reference points that could not only call out but also reveal the manner in which the contemporary culture reinforces the negative images of the black American population.

An individual could argue that the deliberate rationalization of slavery, which was a derivative of the spreading of lies that the black people were inferior, made them have self-esteem issues. Conversely, the attempt to explain the inferiority complex that is characteristic of the black population could be the foundation of the American politics, culture, literature, marketing, as well as industry. This position elucidates Burrells idea that black inferiority has been used as a tool for propaganda campaign in a successful manner. In this regard, the American media, as well as advertising campaigns, have been influential in promulgating propaganda, which has made it possible for individuals such as Shelby Steele to live comfortably (Burrell 283). Based on this stipulation, it would be possible to insinuate that the concept of black inferiority has provided individuals with a tool they could use in marketing themselves or their products.

The aforementioned argument could be supported by Rance Crains assertion when he refers to Burrell's argument that the black people are the most susceptible to modern advertising (Crain n.p). In this case, an individual might argue that the media is primarily responsible for driving the idea that a persons material wealth is an indicator of his status in the society. In history, the black population in the American society was treated as unworthy. For this reason, some of the black people might have absorbed the message communicated by the advertising campaigns to acquire material wealth that would ensure they remain relevant in terms of elevating their status in the society. As Burrell opines, the past centuries haunt the black American people (Burrell 19), which deprives them of the opportunities to advance themselves and achieve their goals. From this basis, the few black people that would not wish to be treated as inferior work towards proving to the world that they can achieve or acquire what is not expected of them.

On the other hand, some of the black people in the American society have accepted the idea that they are inferior. The acceptance is presumably the foundation of their inability to work towards advancing their lives. There is a possibility of considering such people as individuals that have succumbed to the systemic persuasion presented to them by the media. This argument could be...

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