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“Truthiness” and Other Mess


Who is a teacher?  Who is an expert?  Who are we to believe either of them?  And heck, where can the truth be found and what in the world are facts?


I remember an incident that happened thirty some years before I was born.  My dad, then an elementary school black kid in the mid-1950s, sat in his class full of white students in Los Angeles, California only to look up to his teacher’s finger pointed straight at him and hearing the factual sounding statement, “You are a Negro.  You have no history.”  Remembering this incident, my dad began to question every authority, teacher, book and word that he heard or read.


I’m still struggling with the concept of this “truthiness” term that Stephen Colbert plays around with to describe what people know without the help of evidence, facts, or intellectual thought.  It’s funny because I make up words as they are needed, and I love to throw a “ness” on the end of just about anything, but never would I have thought of coining the term “truthiness.”  The truth in itself has always been blurred for me as the daughter of an African-American studies/political science professor who questions and challenges what is represented as the truth in culture, politics and history.  What we choose to accept as the truth must always be questioned, researched and verified before it gets buried under a lie.  With that being said, I can only accept the term “truthiness” as a “temporarish” word, representing the twisted, endless road to the truth.  “Truthiness” must be the first step in arriving at some agreeable conclusion, but it certainly can’t be the last.


All this talk about “truthiness” reminds me of writing research papers at William G. Enloe High School and North Carolina Central University.  Of course all papers required sources and teachers made it clear that using the internet was not acceptable, unless the author could be proven reputable.  I wondered how any author could be trusted for that matter.  The complete history of black Americans was left out of all of my U.S. History textbooks and if I hadn’t been encouraged to think for myself I’d still believe everyone who said Christopher Columbus discovered America.  Ha! 


On top of all this mess, there’s 9/11.  We certainly can’t just accept what history books have to say about the devastation that occurred that day.  Sure enough, information is leaking that suggests our government had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.  Do a little of your own research on YouTube or just google the mess out of 9/11 and see what you find.


And when you find something you like, go ahead and add it to Wikipedia if it’s not there already.  Why not?  We’re all googling and searching for the truth anyway.  Just keep in mind that no one can be trusted and we all have to think for ourselves whether we believe in “truthiness” or not.  Darn.       



October 17, 2007 - Posted by | "truthiness", African American dilemma, Blog, Google | , ,


  1. Indeed! As you learnt from your father’s grade school incident and your own reading of U.S. History, the accepted truths passed down by the authoritative voice of books and teachers must be questioned. Interesting post!

    Comment by delmate | October 17, 2007 | Reply

  2. You are right on point! In an age when we are overwhelmed with information that may or may not be correct, we are obligated to destroy old falsehoods and to search for new ideas, new concepts, new knowledge, and new truths. These are the tasks of the intellectual warrior.

    Comment by Floyd W Hayes III | October 25, 2007 | Reply

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