Friday, May 24, 2013

The John Brown Brigade





















The other day, Google sent me a signal that someone had left a comment on my post on "There's No Such Thing as Black History". It turned out to be one J. Nkomo, who wrote: "It is a sordid game, to manipulate racial tension to careerist aims in the face of unprecedented systematic anti-prejudice. The youth are embracing anti-prejudice surrounding sexual orientation, race, politics, lifestyle, gender, etc. But, in some sectors, the manipulation of U.S. racial tension might pass as legitimate academic research. Who might lick racial wounds green all the way to the bank?"

It wasn't the first time I've heard a disgruntled person (usually of color) suggest that a White person -- especially a White person in academe -- who has anything to say about racial oppression is doing so to make money off the back of the Black community, which would (according to the disgruntled person) be doing perfectly fine if all White people would just butt out. The point seems to be that no White person, educated or otherwise, could ever have any possible objective other than to make money and, most particularly, by exploiting people who suffer, even if that exploitation takes the form of appropriating the suffering in some way (such as "studying" it).

Okay. I hear you.

And you won't find me arguing that White Supremacy (with the support of the White community and most White individuals) is not the problem. It is. However, Mr/Ms Nkomo, you wrote your comment to me on my blog, so I must assume you are referring to me specifically and, since it is my blog, I get to respond. Thanks.

Before I begin, however, I want to address your flat statements that there is "unprecedented systematic anti-prejudice" and that youth are "embracing anti-prejudice" in every area of social interaction. I don't know where you're living, but this makes you sound like a White Supremacist. There is no evidence of any kind to support either claim. Even our Black U.S. President has had to deal with continual attacks on his character, his policies, his birth records, his family of origin, and his name, fueled quite obviously by U.S. citizens' attitudes related to his skin tone, and even threats against his life have been consistently far above the numbers for any other President ever.

Further, while increasing numbers of youth (and many others not so young) are beginning to look askance at the party line in general in this country, YouTube alone, not to mention the comments sections on blog posts or news articles related to race, gender, and sexuality are still often marked by their vicious racist/sexist/homophobic aggression. Even if that aggression is countered by other commentators, I can hardly imagine that you really believe it's not necessary or to the point to acknowledge the existence of what can only be called dangerous attitudes, especially since Facebook et al are full of photos of Blacks, Latinos, women, gay men, lesbians, trans-gendered and trans-sexual people bloody and sometimes dead because some person or persons in this country had a problem with their right to live here or, for that matter, to live period. Don't take my word for it. Even the police (who are supposed to uphold justice and be everybody's friend) are daily implicated in the ugliness, as noted clearly in the latest report from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

And that's enough said about that. Unless, of course, you want to read the other 500 plus posts on this blog, which you obviously have not done.

So let's move on to focus for a few minutes on how much I've benefited by appropriating and exploiting the suffering of people of color for my own financial gain.

I started out by living collectively for several years in the 1970's while involved in the prison abolition movement. Collectively, for those unclear about that term, means that no one got any money for their work. We shared food and a roof for the joy of being available to do whatever needed to be done to help prisoners and ex-prisoners.

Then, in the 1980's, I was on welfare while I raised my son and bi-racial daughter and involved myself with such lucrative activities as working with the A. Phillip Randolph Institute to get out the vote in the projects.

When I decided to go to school (at pushing forty-years-old), it was only so that I could get a job good enough to support two children. By the time I got my Bachelor's Degree, however, I had come to realize that it wouldn't be enough to get me off food stamps. So I jumped on the grad school bandwagon, choosing sociology (without a clue what it was about) because I had a vague sense that sociologists interviewed people and wrote about them, which I reasoned was not unlike what I did writing feature articles for alternative newspapers (for pennies an inch).

Grad school turned out to be interesting because I was learning about things I always knew were true, but didn't have any way to prove. In grad school, I learned how to prove that stuff, so I picked up a Master's (living on food stamps and a $400 per month stipend) and moved on to study for a Ph.D., a five year period when I lived at a level so humble my children still thought we were on welfare.

Ultimately, unfortunately, I was pushed out of graduate school in the middle of my dissertation so I was never allowed to finish and receive my doctorate. A decade later, I was informed by someone who would know that I was pushed out because my dissertation was going to demonstrate that the publications of famous sociologists (at least one of which was Black) were rife with examples of White Supremacist ideology. Apparently, this was not something sociology was prepared to acknowledge at the time.

I was so flabbergasted at being denied what I had worked so hard for that I went to work in the social service sector for a decade while teaching Social Problems and Juvenile Delinquency courses on the side. Though I finally discovered a few years ago that I could teach full time, I'm stuck at an Instructor level, teaching five courses to 350 students per semester, and will never be tenured because I don't have a Ph.D. To make matters worse, academe being what it is these days, I take home less than forty grand a year (a matter of public record) and haven't had a raise since 2008.

I have not yet bothered to publish even one "scholarly" article since I'm not trying to "become somebody," I'm trying to change the world. Besides, who's got time? I've been blogging here for eight years (without recompense, of course, despite the fact that it's had 220,000 visits). I wrote another blog on in-your-face women last year with the hope that it might be published as a book someday (but again, without recompense, though it's read in over 150 countries). And, since coming to Louisiana, I've mentored literally hundreds of young people, primarily youth of color, to help them get through college, which means I usually earn my working class paycheck putting in fifty to sixty hour weeks.

What's the point? I want to change the world. Not the Black world. Not the White world. Not the U.S.A. Not The South. The world. Which is why "The Changeseeker's Manifesto" appears at the top of "Some Basics" to the right of this blog. I'm not being coy. I have no hidden agendas. I want to leave the world more safe, more just, and more loving than it was when I got here. I make no apology for that. And, like Malcolm, I will work with anyone who shares that goal.

I don't usually drag out my street creds because the people whose opinions I care most about know me. But I don't mind doing it, if it's helpful somehow. The bottom line, of course, is that there have always been people that look like me neck deep in fighting for justice. Maybe not a lot of 'em and not usually a lot of 'em at one time. But we've always been around. And I'm one of 'em.


13 comments:

veganelder said...

Thank you...and good for you.

steve p said...

the way you speak of Malcolm X. do you think he was a decent human being?

His existence is complicated even I admit, however there was a time he believe that god would establish a kingdom on earth, and that all white people would be eliminated.

I'm not sure any number of trips to mecca can erase that mans past.

On a side note I do want to change the world as well, not the black world or the white world because there is really only one world.

skin color and culture and ethnicity is meaningless, and man kind will soon realize this.

I however have already reached that epiphany and it feels good.

Anonymous said...

@steve p

skin color and culture and ethnicity is meaningless, and man kind will soon realize this.

I however have already reached that epiphany and it feels good.


That feeling is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, as only a monumental idiot would say that culture and ethnicity are meaningless when these things shape everything from the language you speak, the clothes you wear, the heroes you revere, the values you hold, and the way you see yourselves and the world.

steve p said...

@anonymous

spoken like a true idiot. not only is this anonymous person a coward, he is a true fool

ethnicity does not shape who you are, ethnicity is nothing more then mankinds pathetic attempt at classification.

you are blinded by this, and therefore a slave to your own stupidity.

However culture does shape how people behave, "culture" has changed vastly overtime.

good in one culture is bad in another. therefore culture in itself is not important for it changes rapidly and has no consistency.

to say, for instance "white" people or "black" people have a specific culture is false.

this has nothing to do with the Dunning Kruger effect. please understand what you post before posting.

thank you.

Anonymous said...

@steve p

Culture and ethnicity are intertwined; the ethnically French possess a French culture, the ethnically Italian have an Italian culture, the ethnically German possess a German culture, etc.

However culture does shape how people behave, "culture" has changed vastly overtime.

good in one culture is bad in another. therefore culture in itself is not important for it changes rapidly and has no consistency.


Not only is this a non sequitur, it's patently false. Christianity, The Enlightenment, Laissez-faire, and numerous other ideas and values have shaped Western history for centuries and to this day.

steve p said...

@anonymous


"Culture and ethnicity are intertwined; the ethnically French possess a French culture, the ethnically Italian have an Italian culture, the ethnically German possess a German culture, etc."

I never said ethnicity does not exist. I simply said it is meaningless. Just as race is also meaningless.


"Not only is this a non sequitur, it's patently false. Christianity, The Enlightenment, Laissez-faire, and numerous other ideas and values have shaped Western history for centuries and to this day."

I have no idea what your point is, you are essentially agreeing with me, however you don't understand, so let me explain.

I never said culture changes in the blink of an eye, im not sure how you interpreted that.

I said culture changes rapidly, mankind ( in tis current state) is a species that is thought to have existed for 200,000 years. past cultures have severely changed over the course of 200,000 years.

while our culture may have some similarities to past cultures just as all human cultures may posses some similarities. it is rapidly changing.

for example, greeks could have sex with boys and children.

homosexually was in some cases preferred in Spartan society.


Even American culture has rapidly changed:


some of the most recent developments in American culture:

Black decedents of Africa were not considered even human for some time.

Whites and Blacks were not able to marry.

Homosexuals could not serve in the military.

Homosexuals could not marry in any state.

Women could not vote.

We had the right to bear fully automatic weaponry.

and most importantly, from my perspective. the government was much smaller and the people much more free.

of course I am sure that in 100 years America will be far more socialist that it already is, further destroying our economy.

the collapse of 2008 was just the first of many government blunders in my time.


Changeseeker said...

Since you two aren't talking to me, but to each other, I'm not going to butt in. However, I would like you to stop throwing the word idiot around so much, Steve P. You use it here and you've used it in previous "comments." It's an attack on anyone who doesn't agree with your particular brand of White Supremacy (as evidenced on a number of posts on this blog recently). I get to decide who leaves their mark in this space, though I really cannot imagine why you spend so much time here, hanging around us "idiots." ;^)

Anonymous said...

@steve p

First, my name is Denzel Wright, but I can't be bothered to log in. There, you can stop seeing me as a coward.

I never said ethnicity does not exist. I simply said it is meaningless. Just as race is also meaningless

I have no idea what your point is, you are essentially agreeing with me, however you don't understand, so let me explain. . .


We are looking at this in different ways. Yes, if you look at the culture of, say, America, over a period of centuries, then culture would appear to be meaningless. However if you stop the clock and compare American culture to another culture at the same point of time, say Mexican, then you find culture is not only important, it's a part of our identity; what determines who is "Us" and who is "Them". For example:

Of course I am sure that in 100 years America will be far more socialist that it already is, further destroying our economy

How do you know to use that word? Why do you feel such a sense of ownership in the American economy in particular that you feel invested in its future well-being?

Clearly, America has meaning to you, but why? Because you are American, of course, but culture is what made you an American in the first place. Culture is what molds children into the French, the Italian, the German, and the Mexican and fosters an interest in the well-being of their fellow French, Italians, Germans, and Mexicans. Certainly, a child born in America but raised elsewhere would not feel American, not in the same way you do.


Anonymous said...

Race is a somewhat different beast. My race is Black, but my ethnicity and culture is African-American, which is currently a part of greater American culture and the even greater African-Diaspora culture. "Black" is a label I am assigned because of what I look like, however a Mandinka man or woman would be labeled "Black" as well, despite the fact that we speak different languages and have a different culture, because we have different histories. Even so, Race has allowed, or rather forced, African (and European) peoples of several different ethnicities and cultures to become one people: African-Americans

Race has done the same thing for the various European (and African) people labeled "White". It's why a Third, and sometimes Second generation "Polish"-American finds more commonality with the long dead American Founding Fathers, than he or she would with a Polish citizen born on the same day.

Both of these individuals are labeled "White", but being White doesn't foster a sense of fraternity and common identity in Europe like it does in America. Likewise, being Black doesn't create a common identity in Africa; the countries of Africa are balkanizing as the centuries of historical rivalry between ethnicities take precedence over the African-Diaspora's cultural idea of "Blackness". This is derided as "tribalism", but Europe experienced the same with the fall of the Roman Empire and it went on for centuries until M.A.D. put an end to European quarreling.

But lets ask a philosophical question: If Africans and Europeans sailed to America and wrote and signed the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence together along with Native Americans, would Race have the power it does? Would it even exist? I don't think so, at least not until Chinese workers came here, as history would follow a very different route and American culture would have evolved in a markedly different way. Slavery may have persisted, yes, but it wouldn't have had the racial element it did. "Whites" and "Blacks" would be both slaves, but of course they wouldn't be called "White" and "Black". No race, no racism, no Jim Crow, no Trail of Tears, no reservations, no Interracial porn genre, no Hippies, no Blues, and as a consequence no Jazz, or R&B, or Hip-Hop, or Rock&Roll, or Pop music asweknowit.

So, there is a historical element to culture & ethnicity too. Different events shape different ethnic cultures. These cultures in turn, shape history for themselves and others. Another example courtesy of you:

and most importantly, from my perspective. the government was much smaller and the people much more free

That may have been true for you, but that was not the case for us. We have no fond and fuzzy memories of 50's America (That's the Golden Age conservatives pine for, correct me if you were thinking of sometime else) because while 50's America was a great place and time in history for you, it wasn't for us. We have a different history, that makes us, at least for now, a different people, and the 50's can politely suck my cock. We aren't that different, we still have more in common with you than the Mandinka, but still different.

You can say culture and this "us" and "them" attitude is all in our heads. Nevertheless, this attitude has shaped the history of mankind since we first built city-states. Were it not for culture and this attitude, we may never have built city-states. That's all the meaning it needs for me.

steve p said...



"your particular brand of White Supremacy"

not exactly sure how to answer this, so.... moving to the next topic.



"How do you know to use that word? Why do you feel such a sense of ownership in the American economy in particular that you feel invested in its future well-being"

America is a country not a culture, there are several cultures in this country however what the federal government does.

"But lets ask a philosophical question: If Africans and Europeans sailed to America and wrote and signed the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence together along with Native Americans, would Race have the power it does? Would it even exist"


This is somewhat impossible. human beings are scared of what is different. Africans and Europeans did not see each other as the same thing. which they were.

"Both of these individuals are labeled "White", but being White doesn't foster a sense of fraternity and common identity in Europe like it does in America. Likewise, being Black doesn't create a common identity in Africa"

I would say it is differnet, however it does foster identity in both of these groups of people.

I know many black Africans from Zimbabwe and they do called "mixed" people "colored" this there country. (mixed people being black and white).

they do see a difference between what I suppose they consider "pure" black and "pure" white. if there is such a thing.

the way they view race is different, however they still observe it.



"That may have been true for you, but that was not the case for us"

you don't seem to realize that the government caused the entire problem of slavery and Jim crow.

until the Europeans came over in mass in the early 1900's much of the south was black. A very large percentage of the Untied states was Black.

Do you think the white slave owners could have kept those slaves where they were without the government? without the police?

do you think that jim crow LAWS could have existed without the government?

we had to fight a war to end slavery in which two governments fought.


So in a nutshell this is how I want the world to look.

I want no unions based on color. I joined the Black student union in college to try and end this.

Black people and white people and Latino people and Asian people are all at fault here. This isn't a problem with one group. this is a problem with the human race.

I know what I want will come, I just want it sooner

Anonymous said...

@Steve p

Do you think the white slave owners could have kept those slaves where they were without the government? without the police?

do you think that jim crow LAWS could have existed without the government?


Do you think that Slavery and Jim Crow would have even been a thought in any man's head if not for racism? You seem to think that the government and the people are two mutually exclusive entities. Look towards the public backlash against "Illegals" and the consequences that unfolded. The Government acted to make it harder for Mexicans within and beyond American borders in order to appease the "Real Americans" and protect our jobs. Remember Self-Deportation? Remember the crowd cheering the idea of an electric death fence? Remember the ire produced at the thought of a Mexican in the ER using our tax money?

Why not just make the "Illegals" legal and American citizens? Why not just open the borders? Why not let them into the melting pot? Because Americans decided that Mexicans aren't American and can never be, because (racist) thinking makes it so

Every White Southern common man and woman was as invested in slavery as the Planter class. To own a slave in the Antebellum South was the American Dream, and they would fight to protect that dream. They were also supported Jim Crow. Jim Crow gave them status, a common identity, and a purpose in life. It wasn't the Government that mutilated Emmett Till, it was the freedom loving American people. In wasn't the Government that wrote texts detailing the inferiority of African people, it was the university pseudo-scientists.

Americans aren't racist because the government is racist. The government is racist because Americans are racist. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are a part of American common sense, i.e. American culture, and they're in every facet of American society. Racist Laws are relatively easy to change, but the very ideas that birthed those laws in the first place, the very ideas this blog was created to fight, that is an altogether different and daunting challenge. How does one destroy an idea?

"So in a nutshell this is how I want the world to look:

I want no unions based on color. I joined the Black student union in college to try and end this.

Black people and white people and Latino people and Asian people are all at fault here. This isn't a problem with one group. this is a problem with the human race.

I know what I want will come, I just want it sooner"


How Haughty. Even if that world could ever be, you are unsuited to the task of creating it. You, who lack the empathy to understand why your Black college mates formed a union in the first place, could never hope to unite the human race. Destroying a Black student union could only make matters worse, if it changed anything at all. They exist to protect the members therein from the caustic elements and common sense nonsense of America. The common sense that regard Blacks as stupid, lazy, uncivilized, violent, ugly, and inferior. These ideas are still alive today, I have felt them, and once believed them myself. It is American culture, American racism, and American sexism that forces Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and women to unite and reaffirm their humanity in each other and themselves. Otherwise, they would only have the common sense to tell them what they are, and that leads to self-destruction for everyone who isn't a White heterosexual male.

The trick isn't in thinking everyone is the same. If you only have empathy towards people you think are similar to yourself, you don't have much empathy at all; it's the very root of the problem. The trick is in seeing how ideas, experience, culture, and history mold people differently, internalizing those elements, and seeing the world from several different lenses, even if it's a clouded lens. The trick is in accepting that people are different, and understanding why they are different.

Steve P said...

"Do you think that Slavery and Jim Crow would have even been a thought in any man's head if not for racism? You seem to think that the government and the people are two mutually exclusive entities"

Im not sure if you are for or against the government, according to you a small government or a large government would make no difference.

however

that's the point, the government is what gave them the power to use there racist hate to perpetuate racist hate legally.

did the government create racism? no
did the government allow racists to legally persecute blacks? yes

our government now keeps blacks in a state of permanent servitude with welfare. and the progressives don't care, they want them there. God help us if the black people ever make it to the middle class.

School vouchers? so inner city students can get a better education? hell no lets leave them to the mercy of the crappy public school system.



"You, who lack the empathy to understand why your Black college mates formed a union in the first place, could never hope to unite the human race."
First problem, you assume that I blame blacks and others for creating these unions, which I don't.

Second, you seem to have come to the conclusion that I blame current white Americans for nothing. which I don't.

"How Haughty. Even if that world could ever be"

Its coming, the entire dynamic of "race" (which is a misnomer) changes every generation. yours is a dying breed my friend.

"you are unsuited to the task of creating it"

you don't even know who I am or my life experiences, however I would like a small biography if you please.

"The trick isn't in thinking everyone is the same"

But everyone is the same. I don't have to think they are.

every human is exactly the same, we are 100% the same species there is no difference.

culture is learned, everything else is learned, good and bad. right and wrong.

anything that is learned has NOTHING TO DO with your physical makeup. your DNA. Your skin color.

the difference is in your head.

"You, who lack the empathy"

where have I shown that I lack empathy?

I haven't even said that my "culture" is superior or how I act is better.

it simply is.

if you want to jump the broom at a wedding go ahead.


if you want to speak shona go ahead.

if you want to worship the devil go ahead.

if you want to worship god go ahead.

if your muslim that's great

if your jewish that's great

if your Christian that's great

if your atheist that's great

if you want to have sex with someone of the same sex go ahead.

anything goes really.... I have friends that have done all of the above. I really don't give a shit there is no such thing as a superior culture...


as I have said, culture is pretty much meaningless.

as long as you don't infringe on the private rights of others. go ahead.


The only thing I really dislike is the government because they FORCE a way of life on others.




Although I am sure you will sort through all of this in your next post. I am sure It has something to do with white southerners or something......

just a joke... lol

Changeseeker said...

Wow. This is impressive. Of course, it was all written a while ago and before the George Zimmerman "trial." I thank you both for putting so much time and thought into this thread. I appreciate your obvious intelligence, Denzel, and it would give me great pleasure to imagine that you're a follower of this blog. Do you, by any chance, blog yourself somewhere? I'd certainly want to check it out and add it to my blog roll, if it isn't already on there.

I'm less clear about why you're here, Steve, and I keep too much on my plate to engage in much back and forth with you or anybody else. This entire blog (more than 500 posts now over an eight year period) is my contribution so I don't have to do that. The points I am going to rather rapidly make, however, are elsewhere on the blog more than once and in far greater detail:

1) Humans learn to be scared of or judgmental toward differences. Watch a two-year-old eat a bug. We're taught to fear and judge specific people and not others.

2) People from Sub-Saharan Africa were brutally colonized by Europeans for so long that Eritrians still say "Mama Mia!" when they're startled. So their culture often reflects White Supremacist values which they've internalized.

3) All the social institutions (including government) and the U.S. public have bought into White Supremacy because the country was founded on White Supremacist principles. So the overall culture reflects that.

4) In a society with a commitment to the well being of all its citizens, the government "takes care of" everybody, nobody goes without, crime is low, and the education is free. An insane level of unemployment and a ridiculously low minimum wage is why people are poor in the U.S. When you add to this the fact that the prison-industrial complex (built on the back of a White Supremacist criminal justice system) is the main money making enterprise here (aside from selling weaponry), it makes a tidy package for the 1% at the top.

5) You make extremely clear who you are with every subsequent comment.

6) The White Supremacist norms, policies, and practices in this country stomp all over the "private rights" of people of color and most particularly African-Americans all day everyday. Which rights? The rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for starters. Just sayin'.