Cultivated Ignorance

An Essay by Konrad Miller

I state at the outset of this blog that I am no expert.  I am simply a man with a set of experiences and perspectives who like any other, strives to understand the dynamics of the reality he lives in.

I attended the Juneteenth ceremony at the state capital and was buoyed by the participants. From the children who read their essays, to the politicians who took the time to appear, to the panel of noteworthy Black people that shared their perspectives and experiences.

But through all that, I kept coming back to my own collected thought that I refer to as cultivated ignorance. With every word spoken and every question answered I kept coming back to that phrase.

My thinking is this:

Cultivated Ignorance provides a shield against ideas that can disrupt one’s sense of self. It over-simplifies the perception of the world at large. It makes one comfortable in the inevitable misconstructions, and only allows in those artifacts that fortify those misconstructions. I believe this to be the recipe for baked bigotry.

On the assumption that I am correct, it isn’t difficult to understand why knowledge, on a broad spectrum can be unsettling to those wrapped in a blanket of cultivated ignorance. It is also not difficult to understand why knowledge on a broad spectrum is often hidden under a cloak of irrelevance…It’s about comfort.

I have a white coworker who has asked me some of those questions that compromise his comfort and I applaud him. There have been a couple of questions that I was shocked that he did not know, but on instant introspection, I ask myself “when did I learn the answer to that question?”. It quickly occurred to me that for racism to persist, all people must be shielded from knowledge on a broad spectrum, especially those against whom the bigotry is levied.

I have personally succumbed to the frustration of attempting to communicate to many of those in the majority that their perception is not the ubiquity. And while I’ll not stay silent when presented with an opportunity to usher them towards an uncomfortable flash of facts, I believe that any personal growth must be seeded and nurtured from within.

That said, I am also hopeful. As viewed on an historical timeline, we have barely left the Jim Crow era. I believe that if this country can stave off the real threat of fascism, we will molt that particularly ugly shell.