- RAW: In your book, The Falsification of African Consciousness, you write about the critical role that history plays in developing the consciousness of a people. Could you elaborate on how knowledge of our true history can help us to overcome the myriad of problems facing us?
- Amos Wilson: Those who do not study history will repeat it. We’re talking about the first and second Reconstruction repeating itself. What I find interesting is the attitude that we in America have toward history, the belief that history is mere recapitulation of dates and times. Some people actually believe that history is unimportant in academic life or the life of a people. But one of the things that brings the importance of history to mind very quickly is when you try to teach Black History in schools, watch the objection you get to teaching Black history and culture. If history were so unimportant and meaningless, why is it that we have such strong opposition to the teaching of African history and culture? Why is it that the powers that be define how history is taught and what history will be taught? It’s because they know intrinsically that history defines who we are. We are history. We cannot live in the future – the future is always in front of us. And the present is essentially the leading edge of the past. You don’t leave your past behind. The past lives in your brain; in your behavior; the way you see life and the way you see yourself. Everything that happens to you in the present is filtered through past experiences present in your mind. This means the past is operationally present at every moment if that past is distorted, if your perception of it is incorrect, if it’s absent. Then when you look at things in the present, your perception will be distorted. You will not be able to effectively use what you see right in front of your face. You will not be able to take advantage of possibilities that you have nor will you be able to design your own future, because your history has been distorted. Whites have stolen and distorted the history of Blacks so that they can influence the type of behavior we exhibit. They have been able to shape our behavior to support their domination of us as a people. Thus, we continue to serve their interest.