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By Jullien Gordon

As technology burgeons, our minds shrivel. Especially in America, we are attracted by the concept of laziness. So called technological advances such as the remote control only foster our laziness and have led to poor physical conditions like obesity. Rather than getting up and turning on the television, we’ll spend more time searching for the lost remote control. Our reliance on technology to manage our minds and memory will inevitably lead us to a matrix-like state in this PDA-era.

A prime example is the cellular phone. We can’t leave home without them. Our cell phones store the telephone numbers of all the most important (and not so important) people in our lives. But the primary reason we can’t leave home without them is because we don’t memorize the telephone numbers stored in their chips. God forbid your battery dies, your LCD cracks, or you lose your phone when you’re in a crisis. As children we used to shoot telephone numbers off our head because all we had was 25 cents and pay phone.

Simply stated, the more we become digitalized, the less we memorize. As we enter February in celebration of Black history month I am afraid to say that many African Americans don’t know their history beyond slavery and the Civil Rights movement. As trite as it may sound, if you don’t know where you’re coming from, you don’t know where you’re going.

The art of story telling has evolved over time. Initially, our history was committed to memory and after that it became song. It used to be the responsibility of the griot, the elder, the keeper of the tales, and tribal memory to communicate and pass on the history to future generation. As a lost people, I question, where is our griot? When did our ongoing story, beginning from the creation of man in African come to an abrupt end and stop being told?

Was it when our history was transcribed to text? Ancient libraries in Egypt such Alexandria, Edfu, Heliopolis, Hermopolis, and Thebes contained documents rich in our history which was originally kept by oral traditions. But libraries like Alexandria were burned, thus leaving us without a manuscript to articulate where we were and how far we have come. African Americans are more undocumented than any illegal immigrant, because our history has been consumed by flames and all we have left to interpret is ashes and one paragraph in the annals American history.

There is an ongoing generational curse being recycled because each generation speaks a different language. Today’s hip hop generation communicates through lyrics, which at the root doesn’t deviate from the oral tradition, however today’s hip hop generation doesn’t address historical issues in their lyrics.

A people without a history become history. Without a sense of history, we will continue to stumble over the same obstacles and make the same mistakes that our ancestors endured. It is like driving without a rear view mirror. If we aren’t occasionally reminded of our history and where we’ve come from, we are aimlessly traveling through life without direction. If we look in our rear view mirror, we will see a 400 year car pile up and hundreds of potholes. We are what we’ve been through and that makes us the most resilient people on the face of this planet.

Each generation is supposed to improve upon the generation before it. But, that can only happen if the previous generation explains, educates, and empowers the generation following it with information they’ve acquired over the course of their life. It doesn’t take two people to burn themselves on the stove for both of them to know that the stove is hot.

According to William Glasser, we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience personally, and 95% of what we teach to someone else. Therefore, in order to complete the learning process elders must teach youth about their personal experience through discussion.

I highly recommend starting to write your own autobiography, taking pictures, making films, and developing your family tree so that future generations can learn from you life’s trials and tribulations. But most importantly, I recommend sharing your life stories orally with others because no form of communication is as intimate, genuine, and memorable as face-to-face dialogue.


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Jullien's Purpose Statement

My purpose is to help as many people as possible reach their full potential by helping them making a living doing what they love and in the process of doing so achieve my own. I want to do this through writing, speaking, and creating offline and online spaces that facilitate conversations around purpose.

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