Number 11 - September 5, 2002
Kennedy and bad whiskey
pain, sorrow and anger
Onyeani challenged on Zimbabwe
to buy out The Black Commentator
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hope that we mauled N-word author Randall Kennedy sufficiently last
issue to at least momentarily deter him from further assaults on Black
people's dignity and sensibilities - although racial treachery seems
to be his nature. In composing the August 22 piece on the Harvard-based
public intellectual disgrace (The N-word 3 Ways),
we thought it appropriate to borrow two quotations from the recently
published American Directory of Certified Uncle Toms. The directory,
from which few Black luminaries emerge unscathed, was put together by
the Council on Black Internal Affairs. Shelton Amstrod's firm assisted
in the preparation of the manuscript for publication.
deconstruction of Randall Kennedy is brilliant! All of those Harvard
negroes deserve a whuppin' like that. I would make 4 points:
Kennedy has a long history and he is praised by Alan Dershowitz in
his book, "The Vanishing American Jew," for "standing
up against black anti-Semitism" at Harvard (p. 133). At the Harvard
lecture by Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (which I
attended c: 1992) Kennedy actually snatched a protest sign from a
white student (he was the only Black among the protesters)
and held it up to Dr. Muhammad.
Kennedy is being used, as you so eloquently proved, to sanitize abusive
anti-black rhetoric on white folks' behalf. It is interesting to note
that Archie Bunker was used in this very same way. He popularized
racist slurs and made racists almost huggable. What is not known is
that internal CBS studies proved that the series would actually increase
racism, and they aired it anyway and trashed the studies! Kennedy
is Archie, Pantheon is William Paley
Harvard, as a whole, is where many, many racist philosophies have
found happy repose. From the Indian "re-education" in the
1600s, to the pro-slavery, anti-abolitionists of the 1800s, to Agassiz'
scientific racism theories, to its anti-Black policies in the 1900s,
to its homestead for public uncle toms in the 2000s, "Harvard
has ruined more negroes than bad whiskey."
4) That nigger Kennedy is just no damn good.
hear! Or whatever they say at Harvard.
Kyne advises that we were wasting our time denouncing the author of,
"Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word."
would Stokely Carmichael have to say about the time and space you
are wasting on the N word, it is a word, and sticks and stones may
break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Or Bob Marley,
the one good thing about music, is when it hits, you feel no
pain. The world is a brain game. Stokely figured it out forty years
should pay attention to the time you spend, as it is your only inventory.
Deliberating over whether white people should say nigger or not is
not cost effective when contemplating ways to spend your time.
very laid back Mr. Kyne sounds like he was feeling no pain when
he wrote this letter; but we get his point, which is shared by a lady
who prefers to remain anonymous.
an African American and reader of your publication, I would like to
feedback on your articles about the N-Word. Personally, I have become
fed up reading about the N-Word. We as African-Americans need to stop
making such a big deal out of matters that pertain to us. We get on
one subject and run it in the ground. When an incident, such as the
use of the N-Word becomes a racial issue, we need to address it at
that moment and leave it alone. Afterward, let it go.
Christine Gebhard comes from a country that turned racist words into
mountains of human ash. She's familiar with hate-words in at least two
I didn't read
Kennedy's book and I won't. I only read the article about it on your
website. I am German and white. Belonging to a so-called "superior"
race with a white history we should be deeply ashamed of, we (whites)
don't need a book which tries to whitewash the most hateful and cruel
word I know.
Slavery in the
USA and the German Holocaust is history. But the racism, ignorance,
and hate on which both are grounded, is still alive. White people
need much more education about the true history and that we whites
have invented many words to degrade people who are different, just
to justify our racist systems.
be the effort to "soften" words in the mind of people, especially
white people. What a nightmare imagination: White people start feeling
comfortable with using the N-word, which has such a horrible history
(and present), because some Black people tell them, this is ok, as
long as it isn't meant to be hateful.
But perhaps this
book is a bad sign of our present: Again we whites as a whole are
not able to confront ourselves with our dark parts of history. No,
we are looking for somebody who is able to clearify our conscience.
It is really sad when the oppressed people start telling the oppressors
that the hateful words they use to degrade and humiliate them are
acceptable. This is brainwashing. In its most effective ways, white
supremacy reached its goal.
supremacy made a comeback in blackface in DeKalb County, Georgia, last
month. The sadness and rage over Rep. Cynthia McKinney's loss in the
sprawl of metropolitan Atlanta is only beginning to be translated into
hard analysis and effective action (see Cynthia
McKinney's Honorable Defeat), but Michael Herron is issuing a blanket
indictment. Herron signed his message, "an Angry Cynthia McKinney
I stood out on
a street corner for 2 days waving a McKinney sign in the air. I made
telephone calls. I stuffed mailboxes and I put up yard signs and passed
out flyers. I begged people to come out to vote. They said; sure I'll
be there. Some of the same people that I spoke to (I called them back
on the telephone) stated that they had something to do and didn't
get a chance to make it to the polls, then had the nerve to tell me
that they were very upset that McKinney had lost. They blamed it on
the Jews! Her voters didn't show up at the polls. If you don't
vote, you don't have the right to complain. You should shut the hell
This isn't the
Jews fault, this isn't AJC's fault, and it's not the Republicans fault.
It's our black parents fault for not teaching our lazy asses the importance
of voting. If you don't vote you don't deserve to complain about anything.
The people with the votes have the power. When you have a majority
and you don't stick together you deserve to get screwed hard, deep
and rough with anything they can screw you with. Like I said, if you
don't vote you don't have the right to complain. Shut Up!
Ties that no
Letter to Our Readers section of our last issue (Fight
on, Sister McKinney) began, "The electoral defeat of Rep. Cynthia
McKinney signals the end of any 'special relationship' between African
Americans and mainstream organized American Jewry." We expected,
and received, a spirited response.
Your note on
the defeat of Cynthia McKinney was thoughtful, but I think you got
First, there was
no special relationship between AIPAC and the black community to end.
AIPAC is a simple-minded right wing lobbying organization with a simple,
single-minded agenda that has nothing to do with race. If there was
a black congresswoman who publicly and loudly said that she both thought
white people were evil devils and that the Sharon government was always
right, AIPAC would, robotically, support her. On the other hand, I'm
sure they would support a Klan member who was in favor of the right
wing Israeli factions just the same. They would support a creature
from Pluto as long as it supported extending the suicidal settlement
policy for more years. The AIPAC agenda is certainly stupid and self-defeating,
but it's not anti-black as far as I can tell.
had very little to do with CM's defeat. What defeated CM was the left's
habitual disregard for getting stop signs put in, helping people do
paperwork for the government, and getting pork (or the hallal/kosher
equivalent). All those dull things that only matter to working people,
but not to all the clever progressive intellectuals. Compare CM and
Hilliard's records to Barbara Lee or Dingell or Rangel, and you will
see why those two members of the Black Caucus were in trouble while
others were invulnerable. You gotta return phone calls, show up at
Rotary Club meetings, get people's kids into the Academies, and get
money into the district if you want to keep the job.
Third, there is
a special relationship between blacks and Jews that cannot be destroyed
by AIPAC or anyone else. The relationship is sustained by both good
and evil. As long as Jews and African-Americans remember their shared
heritage of slavery and oppression we will be tied together in our
shared and perilous journey to freedom. And if we are not good and
thoughtful enough to remember that we are in this together, the Aryan
Nations folks will try to help us. Peoples who fight their natural
allies while their bitter enemies gain strength have a special mention
in the book of fools. I hope that American Jews and African-Americans
don't add another chapter to this book.
is sorry to remain anonymous, "but that's how it has to be right
now," she says.
K misses our point. Of course there has never been any relationship
between African Americans and the American Israel Political Affairs
Committee. AIPAC's policies are made in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its
only relationship to American politics is that of a foreign agent.
remarks were directed at mainstream Jewish organizations, indigenous
American institutions. Their position on McKinney was succinctly expressed
by Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic
Council: "One of the most antagonistic persons - if not the most
antagonistic person - to the U.S.-Israel relationship is gone."
Note that Forman's concern is for "the U.S.-Israel relationship,"
not the Black-Jewish relationship. Forman and his colleagues' priorities
are clear, as is the responsibility for the demise of the Black-Jewish
relationship, in organized form.
is in this spirit that Bert Zackim took
to task, and threw in some Arab-bashing.
relationship that did, or did not exist between Blacks and Jews might
or might not be compromised by the defeat of Ms. McKinney. She has
to accept, as you do, the consequences of her own specious and sometimes
outrageous comments. Did not the electorate have the last word, most
specifically in the voting booth? You make it sound as if the Jews
paid the Blacks, and the Republican voters took a few bucks from the
Hebrews. You give the Jews too much credit and too much power. The
responsibility belongs to the voter, and mostly to Ms. McKinney, who
sided with the slave holding slave-trading Arabs. So much for her
thinking process. I am happy that she is out of office.
we needed some air after that one. A fresh breeze arrived from Lois
Swartz, one of the good guys.
We, Jews, organized
a McKinney fundraiser in Philadelphia because she was a good candidate
and because the traditional organized Jewish community claims to speak
in one voice. They are not speaking in our name and we created a coalition
with Jews, Muslims, Christians, African Americans and others. I read
your editorial with a heavy heart. If the mainstream Jewish organizations
know the relationship is over they won't admit it. We dissidents want
to keep working on peace and justice issues in coalition with others.
Where I get uncomfortable
is when Cynthia McKinney's father and I assume others say it was the
J E W S that were to blame. His comment and I assume his thinking
are too simplistic for the complexity of today's world. American Jews
are very short sighted in becoming a one issue, support Israel at
any cost machine and giving up progressive politics. We haven't. When
we had our fundraiser, our closest contact with Blacks was through
our friendship with a Delta. Chaka Fattah, our congressman, was "out
of town" and Jerry Mondesire and J. Wyatt Mondesire (Sunday Sun)
never replied to our invitation. We plan to continue with our coalition
building and to go from strength to strength.
P.S. We were a
front page article in the Forward, which my grandparents read
in Yiddish. Lois Swartz, Bubbes and Zaydes for Peace in the Middle
East. Despite the name we are not a one issue group.
Swartz sent along a column from Ahmed Bouzid, President of Palestine
Media Watch, in which Bouzid referred to the fundraiser organized by
Swartz's Philadelphia group: "For all their differences, the people
in that room had this in common: they were against the Israeli occupation,
for a just and lasting peace and coexistence in the Middle East, against
religious intolerance and bigotry and against the warmongering fever
that has swept across the halls of our government."
Cohen writes with a clear head and a troubled heart.
Just wanted to
thank you for your precise and well-argued piece on the McKinney defeat.
You hit it on the nose saying just what needed to be said.
As a Jew who grew
up with the "special relationship" I know we have lost something
important and I am angry at the leaders of "my community"
who seem to delight in pouring gasoline on that relationship as they
forge a new Jewish identity from which I recoil.
Commentator reader Gary Spencer is engaged in a political search operation,
and found us while "wondering where progressive black folks had
been on the net." His views on the defeat of McKinney:
Her loss speaks
to a bigger problem for progressive African Americans: when a candidate
who has been progressive in the past loses credibility, what do we
do? I live in the Atlanta area and wanted McKinney to succeed. She
was great on the issues: affirmative action, the environment, pro-privacy,
pro-choice, etc. However, her campaign, and therefore by implication,
her, never did articulate a clear policy on the middle east. I believe
her policy was probably one of evenhandedness, unlike the U.S. policy
heretofore, but it came out like, "Jews, kiss my @#$." In
addition, her father, who kept his nose in the campaign, made annual
anti-Semitic statements, and she couldn't seem to keep him out of
I think she was
right to say that Sept. 11 needed to be investigated, but was there
any evidence she could share that Bush hid the prior info to help
his friends? That was really over the top. Was there no one to talk
to her to help her to self-censor some of the craziness prior to her
Mind you, I believe
her replacement will be a weak, middle of the road sort of democrat
that has not helped us more in the past. I was sorry [Majette] won,
but I understand why she did. Unfortunately, the moderate view looked
better than the outspoken view, because the latter did not speak with
a clear policy that a broad range of progressives would want.
I want to have is how do we get more progressive candidates in office?
Is the Democratic Party worth it?
That depends on
the ability of Blacks and progressives to reshape the party, which must
either respond to the Hard Right's New Black Strategy or collapse. We'll
explore the immediate and long-term challenges in our September 19 issue.
Meanwhile, Mr. Spencer appears to believe that Denise Majette and Arthur
Davis, the congressperson-elect from Alabama who rode in on the same
money train, should be viewed simply as "moderate" Democrats,
and nothing more. That is a fatal misjudgment. Trojan Horses are the
most dangerous devices of warfare - stealth weapons.
White is also a recent member of 's
enjoyed your comments about Congresswoman McKinney. She is the victim
of the hard-right. Although at times I shuddered at some of her remarks,
just a little too outspoken, she nevertheless would have earned my
continued support had I been in her district. Keep up the good work.
views from MSU
received two letters from Michigan State University, home of one of
nation's most impressive African Studies departments, responding to
Dr. A. Chika Onyeani's September 22 Guest Commentary on white farmers
in Zimbabwe. Dr. Tracy Dobson is a professor of fisheries and wildlife
currently studying conditions in Malawi, who has been "following
events in Zimbabwe for quite some time." He writes:
I thought the
writer on Zimbabwe overlooked some important points. Yes, the British
taking [dating back] 100-150 years ago was a horrible thing, but I
think that the author oversimplifies the current situation. For example,
there are hundreds/thousands of black workers on those white farms
who have been displaced by the violence, and they and their families
have been seriously harmed by it all. I don't know of many who would
disagree with the underlying premise, but it's a question of how to
do it reasonably, fairly, and least disruptively. In Africa, Zimbabwe's
was the strongest economy outside of South Africa, and it now
stands in ruins because of this, harming all Zimbabweans. How does
this help? And, you should consider into whose hands lands are going.
Most, perhaps all are going to Mugabe's friends and supporters, elite
folks, not poor farmers!
MSU professor Bill
Derman reports that he has "just returned from two months research
in Zimbabwe and have been conducting research there for 15 years."
He also speaks to the plight of the farm workers.
The guest commentator
on Zimbabwe is long on rhetoric and short on facts and analysis. Leave
aside the focus on the farm owners and focus on the farm workers:
what justifies their terrorization, brutalization and forced removal
from their work and homes by people claiming to be war veterans, etc.?
This is one of the most brutal forced dispossessions in independent
Africa of a vulnerable, poor African working class. I continue to
be amazed at the silence of those who claim to speak on behalf of
the poor and oppressed to ignore farm workers. Lastly, it is not just
workers but families who are loosing their homes, possessions, work,
opportunities for education, etc.
has agreed to contribute a Guest Commentary on the subject.
became familiar with the work of the next writer, Jared Ball, through
the website of Organized Community Of United People (C.O.U.P.), a group
of young activists in the Washington, D.C. area.
Thank you Black
Commentator for taking a stance far too many are afraid to take. Too
often Black "leaders," "educators," and "journalists"
choose to hide behind either a paucity of knowledge or a similar lack
of integrity and refuse to expose those harmful to our well-being.
As a youngish
teacher, student and activist I cannot express powerfully enough how
important it is to have sound and decidedly subjective critique
and criticism to help us shape our arguments and direction. The constant
wavering and insultingly false claims of objectivity weaken us. Objectivity
in terms of politics, history, journalism, etc. is as much a myth
as the tooth fairy, Easter bunny or American democracy.
Thank you for
reminding us of the true purpose of journalism, writing and education.
We need to remember the missions of Sam Cornish, John Russwurm, Ida
B. Wells, JA Rogers and WEB DuBois. Our efforts in whatever area should
have the unabashed, unapologetic goal of improving the lives of Black
people and humanity as a whole. As Dr. John Henrik Clarke used to
say, "education [journalism, writing, etc] has but one true purpose....
to teach us how to be responsible handlers of power."
We thank Mr. Ball,
whose organization is engaged in both organizing and analytical projects.
Black Commentator is proud that our readership is heavy with teachers
and political leaders. The following writer is both.
I wish to convey
my personal appreciation for your commentary. Often times, I do not
fully agree with your presentations; however, that's only about 10%
or less. As a professor of history, I will have my students read your
commentary for their current events. Thank you!
Delegate, 45th Legislative District (Maryland)
Professor of History, Morgan State University
recognition is good for the soul and the ego. Our burdens were made
lighter on receipt of this message:
Yours is an absolutely
first rate web site, essential browsing for anyone with a serious
interest in African American affairs. My congratulations.
Jack White, retired
columnist for Time magazine and now an occasional columnist for Savoy.
Mr. White's letter
reminds us that journalism was once an honorable profession.
Grotke, as you will learn, is an emotional type.
I read most everything
you publish. I read it and laugh, shudder and once or twice almost
come to tears. It is rare to find a media outlet that so often mimics
what I have thought and known for years.
I should mention I am white, work for the federal Government (as a
contractor) and have lived my life in a very middle class county in
Maryland. I can't say that you have changed my mind on major issues
but you have shown me an insight that I had till now missed.
Finally, Lance Watkins
informs us that he has completed his preliminary assessment and concluded
is a worthwhile investment in time.
I wanted to inform
you that I truly appreciate the depth and perception of issues put
forth by Black Commentator. I had often been disappointed by other
so-called intellectuals with panderistic, watered down fluff who would
sell out at the first opportunity. Please keep up the good work. If
you do decide to cash out in the future, please give Black people
(including me) the first right of refusal.
Watkins's remarks inspired the "
buyout" headline at the top of this column, a shameless ploy to
draw you into our eMailbox.