Dr. Michael Afolayan offers a strong dissent to Dr. Onyeani's characterization

At the risk of sounding tautological, I would give my penny worth to the lecture delivered by Dr. Onyeani. I have read and re-read the rejoinders of Dr. Ajayi-Soyinka and Bayo Omolola. In fact, they both prompted me to go back and re-read Dr. Onyeani's presentation, after which I could not but say Dr. Onyeani, "Come on, brother, aren’t we blaming the victim here?"

I must say I have never read, but now I am very curious about, Onyeani’s Capitalist Nigger. However, reading this lecture of his, I am quickly reminded of two essays that I read in the past. One was by Armstrong Williams, the conservative Black journalist who was bribed with about a quarter of a million dollars in order to write in support of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Initiative, which indeed was a flagrant insult to Black families all across the United States. Secondly, it reminded me of an essay that I wrote many years back which never saw the light of the day because it was written purely on my ignorance of the critical race theory; when I saw tears in the eyes of an extremely brilliant and hardworking African American female colleague of mine after reading what I wrote, and she sat me down to set the records straight, I was convinced beyond all reasonable doubts that my argument was flawed, my position was jaundiced and my knowledge of the social reality in America was warped. I could see some traits of my own malady in this presentation of Dr. Onyeani.  While an essay of this nature may be a survival strategy for journalists like Armstrong Williams, Dr. Onyeani or even for a pseudo-intellectual like me, it is downright insulting to well-meaning, hardworking Africans and the people of African descent all over the world. You cannot give he dog a bad name in order to kill it.

Today, my own all-White colleagues will toss me out the window if I represent the Black race in this light at a seminar in my department. And come to think about it, I believe that anyone with more than just a casual acquaintance with the critical race theory will dismiss this respected journalist, Dr. Onyeani's position with a wave of the hand. It is full of the age-long fallacy of illicit generalization. You do not insult a whole race because you have met some within that race or constructed the image of a race that did not fall within the paradigm of your own social expectations. This is an anti-neoMarxist criticism of the social process that is not founded on any solid intellectual reason.

I must say, as always, that I am very grateful for this forum where we can vent out and exchange intellectual as well as social points of view without any fear of intimidation or harassment. I am particularly glad that a person of the Black race started it. This is not a sentiment reflecting an “anti-other-race” mentality on my part. Rather, it is a statement to decry and provide a dissenting voice against Dr. Onyeani’s position when he stated that ours “is a non-productive race.” I do not want to spend quality time presenting my own contrary opinion on this matter. Rather, I will let the record speak for itself. In the paragraph that follows, I will provide a laundry list of facts that depict ingenious inventions and world-class productivity, all of which are credited to Black people, some of who are alive and well and are readers of this discussion group. Here we go:

The chess game; airplane propellers; Volkswagen dasher (originally called Volkswagen Igala); postmarking and canceling machine; folding bed (hide-a-bed); coin change machine; letter box; automated corn planting system; ironing board; letter drop; typewriter; laser guided missiles; the military torpedo discharge, the military “street sweeper;” disposable syringe; home security alarm system; horseshoe; lawn mower; radiation detector and image converter; automatic fishing reel; horse riding saddles; player piano and record player arm; door knob and door stop; blood plasma and blood transfusion technology; the fastest super computer in the world (at 3.1 billion calculations per second); super charge for internal combustion engines; lantern; space shuttle arm attachment (for capturing satellites); ice cream; gas burner; TV remote control; video commander; bicycle frame; eye protective gurgles; bottle caps; air conditioner; electric lamp; printing press; pressure cooker; pencil sharpener; advanced printing press; fire extinguisher; lock; shoe lasting machine; rocket catapult; elevators; gas mask; traffic signals; hair brush; the 1998 solver of a 361-year old mathematical puzzle known as the Fermat Last Theorem; heating furnace; air ship; folding chair; fountain pen; hand stamp; dust pan; electric trolley (which developed to the modern day train technology); comb; clothes drier; lawn sprinkler; the guitar; Ikenga-gyroplane; Ikenga/mk3 automobile and skooterboard; golf tee; lantern; helicopter; cellular phone; urinalysis machine; hydraulic shock absorber; curtain rod; multi-stage rocket; lawn sprinkler; among academic winners of the Nobel Prize; automatic gear; refrigerator; mop; stair-climbing wheelchair; fire escape ladder; automatic cut off switch; and the list goes on and on.

I will have no problem providing specific and real names behind each invention, and achievement listed above; but right now, if only for the sake of brevity of time and space, I will leave the record as is. My point is made: The Black race is indeed, very productive. This issue of productivity (or the lack thereof) is just one of many fallacies that I identified in Dr. Onyeani’s presentation, and it is not even the biggest one. It suffices to say that as critics we owe our audiences the ultimate responsibility of truth and veritable information; and above all we owe the one we critique unabated respect, and unflinching, correct representation.