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The Mis-Education of the Negro  - The Truth About Higher Education

Nov. 16, 2018

By Cathy Harris, Syndicated Columnist,
I hope this article does the book "The Mis- Education of the Negro" some justice. I never read the book, but I hope this article wake some folks up, so that we can come together and rebuild communities again. 

At 62 many of the articles that I am writing today will probably end up as part of my memoirs that I will either write later on in my life or maybe my daughter, who is also a writer, will write someday. 

I am an African American woman, age 62, and I did not attend college, however, when I lived in Atlanta for 20 years, several of my #EducatedFriends tried to persuade me to go for a Master's Degree. 

I told them at that time what I am telling you now -- having these degrees would have done nothing different for me -- but would only have put me in a position where I would have had years of debt. But now I am totally debt-free with a 800 credit score --  able to control my own financial future.

Today I am still a successful business owner with my own Empowerment and Publishing Company,, where I have released 26 'easy-to-read' non- fiction books. I am also a  Speaker, Author and Coach  and I learned all my skills and talents by becoming "Self-Educated."
However, many in the black community, especially #EducatedNegroes feel that you don't have any value, unless you have a  degree. 

Being "Self-Educated" paid off when I had to stand up to injustice first in the military then in the federal government in 1998 - when I became an "Outspoken Federal
Whistleblower" and helped change laws to protect black women international travelers.

Because of my extensive research on the federal workplace, I simply went to work everyday thinking like a 
lawyer and this is how I was able to make changes and become successful as a "Federal  Whistleblower" . Most people today unlike when I came up only stay on jobs for 4 years, instead of 20 or 30 years -- so it's a new day and time for many people. 

A Black Woman's Movement

Since 2017 I have ran my own empowerment movement for black women "The Essential Women Movement for African American Women" ( and it seemed that the women who had more issues adjusting to life were always

Many of them would get on our platforms and even make statements such as -- we are #HighlyEducated and because of that we should not have to go through these unfair dilemmas. 

It's like because they are #HighlyEducated, they would be handed many more opportunities in this life or maybe they were just spoiled as kids.

These #EducatedSistars are the same ones complaining about they are having to #DateDown to find men -- because many do feel they are #BetterThan a lot of the good, hard working, black men in this country. 

At the end of the day whether you are #HighlyEducated or not, all other cultures will see when they look at you is a #BlackPerson -- so the only way #EducatedNegroes will be able to succeed in this thing called #Life is by #FormingAlliances and #StrategicPartnerships with others that look like them -- #BlackPeople -- and many won't have degrees. 

I even had to take a hiatus from the movement because I was sick of arguing with these #EducatedSistars 
and I was sick of them throwing their education in front of every conversation. 

What is it about people with degrees who seem to look at life differently than people without degrees?  I also noticed that a lot of women (and men) with degrees rather deal with doctors who also have degrees, instead of getting out there conducting research into #HolisticHealing.

The "Haves" and the "Have Nots" 

I grew up in #SimplerTimes. We were very poor and underprivileged in rural Georgia. I was the youngest daughter of 4 girls and the 6th child with 8 other siblings so it was 9 kids total. 
Unlike many black families today, I did grow up with a mother and father in my household. My father was a  #FunctionalAlcoholic  and my mother was a housewife, but as we got older, she kept homes as a  #Maid .
My mom had a half sister -- who both shared a father together. My Aunt Lovella passed away at 45 years of age. She was actually my favorite aunt and many people thought I looked like her. I would light up like a button -- when she came to visit us because she always said nice things to me. 
Her husband, John, died at age 46. He was a church deacon who made numerous trips out of town so when he died, his wife and family of 6 girls and 1 son found out he had another family (another wife and 4 daughters) in another city -- especially when the oldest daughter showed up at the funeral. 
When my aunt found this out, she was dead in 30 days. Many believe she died from
"heartbreak" or a #BrokenHeart. Unlike my family, all my aunt's kids or my first cousins had attended college so even though they were my first cousins, they looked down on me and my siblings as if we were #LessThan because none of us attended college.

I was #BookSmart and probably was the only child out of 9 kids who had a desire to go to college, but I had no one to help or guide me, even though I had these #EducatedFirstCousins. And this is probably why I #SelfEducated myself later on. 

However, I was a #BlackSheep child, so it would have been extremely difficult to attend college, especially after my Mom told me that it was no way she would lift a finger to help me go.

My Uncle and Aunt, had more money than us. We all grew up in the church, but because my uncle was a deacon in the church, he was more #HighlyRespected in the community compared to my father, who was a #FunctionalAlcoholic.

For some reason though, it always seemed like that family had some type of cloud hanging over them, because  right before both my Uncle and Aunt died, they had built a brand new home that neither of them were able to enjoy.  

And it seemed that over the years my #EducatedCousins had the hardest time adjusting to life. It just seemed like since they were #HighlyEducated , they had all types of issues and three eventually succumb to cancer and other diseases at very early ages. 

Our family on the other hand, despite my father being an alcoholic, came from #HumbleBeginnings and were raised with a better principle and value system than my cousins.

Everything we ate came from the land so we grew up with a different lifestyle -- a "simplier lifestyle" -- than my cousins -- who turned out to be #EducatedSnobs.
My Family's Pact

When I became a single mother after leaving the military, my daughters were 6 and 7 years old. We made a pact (or "agreement). This pact was used to keep my daughters on track as they aged. 

As a Single Mother, I was working for U.S. Customs and since I had to work "mandatory overtime", I had to make sure I stayed organized.  

The pact was -- "that they would study hard and attend college when they got older; that they would be respectful to others, especially grown-ups; and that they would be were they were supposed to be and do what was expected of them." 

This pact kept my daughters on track. Every once in a while we would get together and go over #OurPact to make sure everyone was on track. 

Because I moved around and never lived around family until my daughters were 13 and 14 years of age, we knew we only had each other, so therefore, we would not put anyone else before the three of us. And this is how I instilled a #HardcoreValueSystem into my two daughters.

Highly Educated Daughters

Both my daughters have a Master's Degree. Again, I did not go to college and neither did my mom or dad or their mom or dad so my daughters are the #First on my line of descendants to attend college.

They are smart not because of their degrees, but because they have a #SmartMother, who as a Single Mother for many years, had many #LifeExperiences and who herself was 

I even penned a non-fiction book "How To Raise Smart, Talented and Responsible Kids: Dreams Big Dreams," outlining how I raised my daughters not just to be successful, but to #ThinkLogically

I always told them to use the "Pros" and "Cons" system if they ever had an issue that they were confused about or if they ever had to make important decisions in their lives. 

The "problem solving system" consisted of -- to make a list of "Pros" and "Cons" and if they had more "Pros" than "Cons" -- then maybe they should move forward in that direction.  But if they had more "Cons" than "Pros" -- they needed to stop in their tracks and reevaluate their decisions. 

I wasn't a "Helicopter Mother" , a mother that hoovers over their kids and even try to breathe for them, instead I was what you call a "hands-on" ( or " Proactive") mother. And I truly believe, if you have not taught your kids what they need to know by age 18, it's just too late.

I spent the first 18 years of their lives, putting all this great information in their #BrainBank so that they would turn out to be #GoodCitizens. I am so proud of both my daughters today.

Be Careful When Leaving Home for College

There have been tons of stories about students getting killed in college. Many students who attend college can be desperate for money and many of them can already be criminals or they can come from families that run criminal enterprises -- so students need to be careful.

It's exciting to leave home for the first time and not having to take orders from anyone, but at the same time, you need to be on the lookout for other students, who are broke, and who might be preying on you. 

Don't allow anyone to just move into your apartment or home, especially if you don't know them. If they are not financially equipped to handle their portion of the rent, it might be hard to evict them -- even legally, especially if they can prove they have been living there.  If at all possible, try to take a relative or friend with you to college to become your roommate. 

Why My Daughters Did Not Attend HBCUs

After high school, I left the decision up to both my daughters where they would attend school or where they would obtain a higher education

When I assisted my first daughter to look at colleges, we investigated at least 17 different schools.  And with my second daughter, who was one year behind her, we investigated 11 different schools. 

Because they both had lived in Atlanta with a large black population and had attended black schools from the 8th to 12th grade, they both decided not to attend HBCUs. 

They both stated to me once or twice that a lot of the black students had too much drama, so they wanted to go to mix schools. And we all know that life is not about a #BlackWorld. So they sought out these different experiences at a very early age on their own. 

Even though they might have received more 'hands-on' tutoring or mentoring from black schools and black professors, again, I left this decision strictly up to them so I  had nothing to do with my daughters not going to HBCUs. 

One of my daughters is an English College Professor and the other an Occupational TherapistAnd as far as I know, they never regretted their decisions.  To this day, unlike 80% of the students today, they are both still working in their majors. They both have their own businesses and both are quite happy with their lives. 

Another reason my daughters decided not to attend HBCUs is because t hey had friends who were two or three grades ahead of them -- who had major issues with obtaining financial aid from black schools. 

In my daughter's perspective schools for undergrad and graduate studies, they received needed funds way ahead of time, which allowed them to set up lodging, make meal plans, obtain books and #PrepareToLearn. 

We, all black folks, have heard the stories about the nightmares of receiving funding from HBCUs. Students had enough to worry about and lack of funding for higher education, should not be one of them as many attempt to leave home for the first time and go out into the #RealWorld.  

Why My Daughters Never Pledged to Be in a Sorority

All of us have heard stories for years about hazing deaths of students who pledge. These deaths are still happening today.  If a potential new member accepts a sorority  bid, she becomes a new member, more commonly known as a pledge

Because of negative associations with words like "pledge," many sororities have chosen to adopt new language so many have started to refer to the pledging process as new member education.

According to research conducted the average initiation cost for joining a sorority can run anywhere from $700 to $2,500.  At some colleges sorority members pay $350 to  $600  per semester, which adds up to $2,800 to $4,800 total to pledge. 

That's all on top of living costs so pledging can be extremely expensive for college students already overwhelmed with the college process. And that's not all -- you need to be prepared for unforeseen costs, whether that means buying clothing items, purchasing conference tickets or paying for monthly and/or annual dues. 

Recently Fort Valley State University had a major  scandal where an AKA female advisor and six black men who worked in the college, were indicated in a pimping scandalBlack women were so desperate to become a part of the sorority, they turned to prostitution.

Because I taught my daughters before leaving home to think on their own, neither of them had the desire to pledge to be a part of any sorority. They both told me that no way would they listen to or take orders from some underling

Why put yourself in a situation where someone can make you feel bad about yourself. You know who you are and what you have to contribute to your life, so again my daughters weren't interested in pledging.

Too Much Emphasis on Education
Most #EducatedBlackFolks put too much emphasis on people with degrees. I learned that at a very early age when my cousins looked down on my family because we weren't educated like them. They had a type of air about them as if they were #BetterThan

How many times have you heard folks on social media, especially black folks, say they have 4 or 5 and even 6 degrees. And when you see a lot of these individuals filming on, they make sure their degrees are placed on the walls in the back of them. 

And when you look at their life, they are not going anywhere. People with degrees can be just as dumb as people who don't have degrees. Keep that in mind!
I have spoken at Princeton University as a Speaker and Whistleblower ( and several other prestigious white colleges and universities, but have never spoken at black colleges or universities because I don't have a degree so of course, they would not allow me to be a presenter in any of their institutions. 

I don't need a piece of paper to tell me that I am living a #WorthyLife. I know it first-hand.  White colleges and universities bring in speakers, trainers and presenters and they go by LIFE EXPERIENCES , because bottomline, they want the VALUABLE INFORMATION that you have to offer.
On the other hand, black educators are holding back black kids by not educating or preparing them, especially for the #RealWorld, because they are only allowing black folks and others with degrees to educate them.  So therefore, they put too much emphasis on degrees. This not only hurts our children, but it's nothing but #SmallMindedThinking .

When I was deep into activism and advocacy work in my community and worked with #EducatedNegroes, everytime they put together panel discussions and other events at conferences, symposiums and other gatherings, they only allowed their friends with degrees to be presenters. 

They were sending these messages and signals that because you don't have a degree, all you can be is a #WorkerBee and your thoughts don't matter. I saw this on so many occasions in black communities in many different cities.
Another example: Since speaking on GMOs for 12 years, I have received tons of calls and emails from white students in colleges and universities, who wanted me to educate them about GMOs because they had to write papers or conduct research for schools.  Do you think they tried to find out if I had a degree or not? No, they just wanted that valuable information.

So white educators, unlike many black educators are teaching their kids in colleges and many even in high school about eating bad foods. The problem with black folks is they are still trying to eat like they did in the past -- and because the food have been altered today and is now Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), you can't do that!

And this is another reason why the black community including #HighlyEducatedNegroes continue to eat unhealthy foods and continue to die at alarming rates. It's the job of black folks to teach other black folks, but our kids will never get this training in higher institutions of learning and especially not in black churches.

A few years ago Spelman College had to institute a health curriculum because so many black women younger than the age of 25, were dying back to back of  "Diabetes", which is the NUMBER ONE KILLER in the black community. 

The President of the college went on to say that these black women could have led dynamic lives. They would have if they had a health curriculum in black colleges from the very beginning and taught students about #HolisticandNaturalHealing and #GMOs.
If you are a young person and contemplating on going to college, before you go out and apply for college, think twice before you spend the next 20 to 30 years of your life paying back student loans for fields you majored in, but like 80% of people today - won't even work in. 

Some of these student loan payments are as high as house notes (or mortgage payments) and many students (especially white students) do end up killing themselves behind student loan debt.

Some of the people who never attended college and are doing great in this life include:
  • Russell Simmons
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Rachael Ray
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Ted Turner
  • Henry Ford
These individuals dropped out of college and went on to be successful:
  • Bill Gates
  • Steve Jobs
  • James Cameron
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Tom Hanks
  • Harrison Ford
  • Lady Gaga
  • Tiger Woods
You don't need to go to college to start and run a successful business. I know that first-hand as a successful (Self-Educated) business owner myself. 

And the only way that we, African Americans, will be able to save ourselves is by creating business opportunities for each other, as we educate each other on holistic and natural healing. This will include bringing #Educated and #Non-educated blacks back together again and #Reeducating them as we move forward and love one another.

Many students in the future will be choosing trade schools, on-the-job training or 'Self-Education' over colleges and universities so what I really want all of you to take away from this article is to teach your children -- at a very early age -- that not having a college or university degree, doesn't make them #LessThan anyone else. 

Learning doesn't stop when they graduate from high school. They need to live on "" and ", the two largest search websites on the internet.

Make sure they turn off the TV and always be a 
#SeekerOfKnowledge. Make sure they turn their homes just like when they were young into  learning centers 
(watch documentaries on health, business and financial shows on,, Amazon prime, etc.; conduct research on and; Read books and listen to

Now that the weather is nice and cool, and many people will become confined to their homes because of the weather, it's the perfect time to learn from the comfort of your own homes from your own family, friends and neighbors -- so turn your home into a #LearningCenter.

This is why I created a #BusinessMovement --  for my 3rd
movement. Each one of us need to be teaching others, "Each One Teach One," especially today. Pass on your skills, talents and passions to the next generation as you
"Teach basic survival skills" and get paid while you teach.
Remember this at the end of the day "If your children don't have #CommonSense or #StreetKnowledge that they can certainly obtain from being #SelfEducated, they will be left with nothing but frustration in their own lives. 

It's up to us to teach our kids to be Kings and Queens, to respect each other and honor each other and no college or university can do that.  #WeAreHarmingOurKids,
#LiveAWorthyLife,  #SelfEducationIsTheKey!

Cathy Harris is an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Non-GMO Health and  Wellness Expert, Advice Columnist at, Self-Publishing and Business  Coach and is the author of 26 non-fiction books at She speaks on  health/GMOs/mandatory vaccinations, business, police interactions, credit repair,  self-publishing and other relevant and timely topics. Her articles and books covers  topics on family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult  entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination (sexism, sexual  harassment, sex and race discrimination), whistleblowing, law enforcement,  government, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying  and selling for women, aging/retirement - just to name a few. Her books and articles  are full of content-rich material to help anyone get back into the driver's seat. She offers seminars, workshops, webinars and consultations at

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