I remember some months back I was talking with a brother who has a few degrees and he was trying to impress upon me the importance of leaving certain things to the experts, those with degrees. I thought about it for awhile and then I reflected back to my prison experience. I remembered that every time there was a panel discussion (usually on C-Span) talking about prison reform or something dealing with the criminal justice system, they always used the term, ‘Our panel of experts.’ I also remember those of us watching would immediately turn the television to a different channel as soon as the panel was shown. We didn’t have time for the false representation of their credentials. See we knew that they were not experts and we didn’t care how many degrees and doctorates they’d obtained. The fact of the matter is that they’d never done a day in a prison in this country so therefore they couldn’t tell us anything worthy enough to keep our attention. Then I remember going to the library and watching old Malcolm X clips and reading about some of the debates that he had with supposed white experts and how we would just break them down completely on every argument that they would put forth, and he didn’t have a degree.
Malcolm read everything he could while in prison but more importantly, he lived what he was talking. I mean how can an expert, who has never lived in the ghetto, tell someone about the ghetto who has lived there all of their lives? Who is the real expert? Matter fact if I’m the one living in the ghetto, nine times out of ten, I will have access to places in the ghetto that the so called expert will not have access to. The philosophy of the expert having to have degrees and such is a Eurocentric concept that keeps those who lack having a degree always looking to the few for advice, even when those few really lack experience. And that is what expertise really comes down to, experience. One can have all the degrees that they want but if it’s not put into practice, if they haven’t lived it then it will never catch as much weight and validity as the person or people who have lived and experienced it. And what you’ll come to find is that many experts talk on a number of different subjects which they aren’t expert on at all. And since the expert game has become like many other rackets nowadays where people get paid big money to sit on a stage or give a 45 minute speech about something that they got out of a book in college, you see more and more people with degrees claiming expert in something. I personally turn them off as soon as I find out that there only source of expertise comes from a book. If that’s the case then I, along with many other people who read constantly, can share the stage with them and make the big bucks to. I’m just saying, food for thought.