NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 116

There is one type of intellectual barrier that is harder to dislodge: the dogma of African irrationality and European rationality. The problem of rationality is of central importance to any person or group interested in social change. We would therefore do well not to sidestep it, but to face it honestly, and to solve it with accurate historical data. 114 The concept of rationality is pivotal to any consideration of social change because human progress may reasonably be conceived of as the emancipation of society from the hold of such arbitrary fictional characters as gods and demons, tribal and racial superstitions, and the prejudices of caste and class, followed by the frank, deliberate embrace of human intelligence as our prime guide in interactions with our immediate environment and the universe at large. The embrace of human rationality has historically led to social improvements made possible by the intelligent study of human and natural resources, the application of intelligence to the management of both, and the creation of increasing quanta of social wealth and wellbeing as a result. In all societies, the process by which reason replaces unreason as the standard of human behavior and endeavor can be traced like a thread running through periods where kings and emperors, priests, and shamans ruled, to those in which witchcraft was exposed as mental rubbish, royalty revealed to be soc