Look at it another way. Whether you live in Africa, the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, or Central, South America, or the Caribbean, how often do you see African people, or anyone else for that matter, reading serious and comprehensive material? This doesn't include social media posts, some of which are great, but we all know that 90% of that is not serious material. We are talking about seeing people reading book volumes. Studying them. We are talking about how many people do you come across on the bus, at the park, in the launder-mat, in the break-room, in your house, in cars, in the airport, reading volume books as opposed to looking at their phones or talking on those phones? I don't see how any honest person can suggest that the majority of people are reading comprehensive books like "Class Struggle in Africa", "Neo-Colonialism", "Africa on the Move", The Communist Manifesto", "Imperialism", "Fighting Two Colonialisms", "In Defense of Socialism", etc. Even if we see people reading, it isn't those types of volume books. Its self help, fiction, how to get rich quick, etc. Now, reading anything is probably better than not reading at all, but the point here is the lack of reading of critically focused and comprehensive material is creating a dysfunctional reality in the world today where more and more people are unable to think critically. This is a serious problem that all concerned people need to make our top priority. Our children have become convinced that reading is not essential. In some societies there isn't even a culture of debate any longer. The minute you disagree, it's perceived as antagonistic and the discussion is immediately dropped as being a negative experience. This is tragic since African people helped introduce the concept of debate and rhetoric to the world through our institutions of higher learning in Timbuktu, Mali, Kemit, and other ancient societies. Yet today, the often repeated statement is "you never discuss politics and religion", the two things we should be discussing as often as we possibly can.
None of this has happened by accident. The capitalist system, the dominant economic system in the world today, gained its rise through exploitation. It developed from the industrial period which was fueled e.g. financed, through the tri-angular slave trade that stole millions of Africans from Africa to force them to work in the Western Hemisphere to build up the wealth of the European/American capitalist industrial societies. This process of colonialism is continued today through the system of neo-colonialism where Africa serves as the cheap resource and labor hub for Western capitalism. The West relies on obtaining cheap resources like columbite tantalite (coltan), uranium, zinc, cocoa, bauxite, rubber, oil, diamonds, gold, etc., from Africa to power the capitalist world while leaving nothing in return for the people's of Africa. The other aspect is the theft of African labor and the prison industrial complex. This system of exploitation is so institutionalized today that it can be openly displayed in motion pictures like Sean Penn's "The Gunman" from 2015, yet, people are still completely oblivious to the basic functioning of the neo-colonial system that fuels their daily lives. One of the primary ways in which all of this is able to continue to function like clockwork is because the capitalist classes have basically convinced the majority of us that their system is the only way available to us to exist in the world today. We have been taught that its' always been capitalism (not true), and it will always be capitalism (equally not true). So, at best, all we can do is modify capitalism. Place lipstick on it. Figure out a way for capitalism to work better. Reform it. Fix it. Improve it. Do anything except destroy it and replace it. Even many of the people who have figured out there's something seriously wrong with capitalism are afraid to embrace socialism, the only alternative to capitalism. Why this ill-rational fear? Because we have been programmed to react negatively to the words "socialism, communism, radical, revolution, militant, etc." although we have absolutely no understanding of what those words mean. We don't know because we don't study. Test it out for yourself. Ask your family members, friends, co-workers, etc., what they know about socialism. Very few people will say they have absolutely no opinion. Most people (I'd argue at least 9 out of 10) will respond by giving you some type of analysis of what they think about socialism, the bulk of that analysis being negative. Then, when they conclude, ask them to recite to you what books by socialists they have read. Not what articles written by capitalist apologists they've gleened on Face Book. What books they have read by socialists like Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Ture, Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Rosa Luxumburg, Leon Trotsky, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, etc. Chances are overwhelming that the answer is always going to be they've got nothing in terms of reading under their belt. This is the danger of the current times because how can people have opinions about something that they only know through what they've been told about it by sources who have an agenda against that concept? Its the same as you accepting information about someone you don't know from someone who hates the person they are telling you about.
Comprehensive reading is the only method to resolve these contradictions because by reading and discussing critical material, the reader learns how to break down the concepts in the reading. The brain learns how to analyze for itself instead of being fed like a sponge to regurgitate what it's told. People start to develop their own tools of analysis so that you cannot be told anything without you questioning it, breaking it down, and coming to your own understanding of whether the information has objective validity or not. Without developing people to think this way, we are setting ourselves up for a world where the majority of people don't know how to think. And, science has long proven that when people don't think, they are reacting and when people react, we know our I.Q. goes down considerably. This is the reality that serves our enemies the capitalist system because when we aren't thinking, they can program us to react to everything with fear. That's why you see completely ill logical concepts emerge like people being led to believe that Muslims represent the primary threat to them when clear evidence indicates the European man as the primary terrorist in the world today. People are programmed to hear the message about Muslims which evokes fear. Most of them don't know any Muslims so their only concept is the fear based one provided to them so it never occurs to them to challenge this false concept. The capitalists tell the world over and over that if we don't just accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ as provided by neo-colonialist preachers, then we will go to hell. This message is heard from the moment people can understand language so people react to it with the fear that the message is designed to generate and the foolish concept is never questioned. I saw this in my life growing up. I was so propagandized by this "fear of God" that it wasn't until I was about 18 years old that I was able to question my mother, a consistent proponent of the God fear propaganda, as to why I had never seen her even crack open a Bible to read it. Then, once I joined an organization that had an organized work/study process, and I read the Bible with people and discussed it, I began to understand that pretty much everything I had been taught about that book growing up was in error. Another example is that we are programmed to believe that anyone who suggests a solution to any problem not connected to capitalism is automatically labeled as insane. Socialism? You must be insane suggesting that. This is such a dependable response that the person advancing the socialist concept is forced to operate from the position of having to justify our sanity from the moment we start explaining our belief in the concept. This is amazing since the reality is the persons you are going to be explaining socialism to have no prior study of it, no comprehensive understanding of it, and no right to question anything you are saying about it. Yet, those are the dysfunctional conditions provided to us that we are forced to function in.
We have the daunting task of reversing this anti-intellectual atmosphere that is poisoning the universe today. We have to figure out a way to make reading comprehensive/critical material cool. We have to make it the thing to do. We have to make education fun. One approach is to start instilling that in our youth before they get poisoned by the capitalist system. This can be accomplished by establishing programs where you can talk to the youth on a consistent basis. You don't need to be a trained educator to do this. We do it on a regular basis as a part of our work here. Our efforts are based in the theory provided by Sekou Ture that "one truth will crush a thousand lies!" If we have the truth and we live the truth e.g. being consistent with them, the youth will accept the truth. Another method is for people to champion the concept of reading in every way that we can. This can happen by encouraging people to join work/study groups in organizations fighting for justice. The All African People's Revolutionary Party has such a comprehensive process and we encourage every organization to have such a process. Even if you are not a part of an organization, encourage your people to not just talk about concepts, but to organize to study them on a regular basis. All of this will help create an atmosphere and culture where reading begins to be considered mandatory. This is what we want to see happen as this will begin to change the current reality. The other thing that has to happen, and this is not going to be easy, is we have to begin to challenge the cultural concept of accepting the lack of reading whenever it rears it's ugly head. For example, for the person who leveled the criticism of my presentation to the person who advised me of the criticism, I've resolved that when I hear that type of critique again, I'll constructively challenge it to whomever brings it to me. It's not whether what I said upsets someone because people get upset for all types of ill logical reasons. Of course, as a revolutionary organizer, I always have the responsibility to present the work with humility, but provided that's happening, the question should always be did I speak truth? Do people read? I think the answer is unquestionably, for the most part, we don't. So, let's not back down from that. Let the struggle begin! Our future deserves as much.