post-Thanksgiving mail and visitation has been so heavy, we imagined
countless family gatherings dominated by intense, Black Commentator-inspired
political debate, resulting in massive exchanges of URLs. More likely,
good people are slowly coming to grips with the grand scope of evil
emanating from the White House, and seek ways to meet the challenge.
Bush's favorite law firm, the Center for Individual Rights, may
succeed in effectively dismantling affirmative action in higher
education, this summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the
"diversity" program at the University of Michigan law
school. Two white women claim that minority students are taking
up seats to which they are entitled, based on grades and standardized
test scores. 's
position is that Blacks and progressives must at long last stop
dithering around the edges of the problem, and fight to "abolish
the racial tyranny of the tests."
the Supreme Court rules in favor of the white women," we wrote,
"persons who have achieved higher test scores will be entitled
to commensurate, enhanced 'rights' under the law as long as these
tests carry weight." There is no room for compromise. SATs
will doom Black hopes for meaningful representation in the more
prestigious colleges and universities, as confirmed by a report
of the Journal for Blacks in Higher Education.
a race-neutral competition for the approximately 50,000 places for
first-year students at the nation's 25 highest-ranked universities,
high-scoring blacks will be buried by a huge mountain of high-scoring
non-black students. ...black students make up at best between 1
and 2 percent of these high-scoring groups," according to the
JBHE autumn issue.
D. Roberts has some experience with standardized tests.
was particularly happy to see your headline about abolishing the
SAT. Although I'm a Black man who has always done well on standardized
tests and owe a great deal of my current "good life"
to the tests (more appropriately to the access they afforded me),
I believe they are obviously designed to always keep Blacks and
Latinos in "their" place.
of the arguments I had hoped to see in the article is the question
of how the tests are themselves tested. In other words, when a
testing company - and they're all private - wants to know whether
they've designed a "good" test, they include a "dummy"
section on the actual test. Test takers' answers are then evaluated
and, I would imagine, racial and gender characteristics are assessed
against the results. So, if it turns out that Blacks outscored
whites on that particular version, it would probably be rejected
as being not representative of "reality". I'm not sure
if this is actually done since I don't work at a testing company,
but it seems reasonable that that's how they would operate. If
that's how it works then the conclusion is obvious - Black students
will never close the gap and, of course, makes clear that these
tests are no measure of any objective reality.
tyranny of the SATs is yet another manifestation of the privatization
of civil society. The tests are products, sold for profit. The prime
consumers of these tests are the same social demographic favored
by the universities that collaborate with the Princeton Educational
Testing Service. The consumers and colleges get what they pay for.
Now the withered "diversity" fig leaf is about to be snatched
away, and supporters of "equality as a fact and as a result"
- President Lyndon Johnson's words - have no alternative but to
eliminate the tests as arbiters of advancement. Otherwise, high
scorers will have achieved an entitlement under law - another white
with the vast advantages conveyed to whites by tailor-made tests,
the Hard Right lawyers of the Center for Individual Rights rigged
the evidence in their assault on the University of Michigan affirmative
action program. Tim Wise tackles racism by-the-numbers with his
Sloppy Statistics," reprinted in this issue.
Williams was thinking about the end result of the higher education
process, the point at which Black intellectuals achieve the recognition
they seek - and from whom. Mr. Williams was moved to write to us
after digesting Shelton Amstrod's historical critique of Harvard
University and some of its Black alumni. (See "Harvard:
The strange career of a troublesome institution," December
read the recent commentary by Shelton Amstrod on Harvard University.
I was wondering what the author's opinion is of Henry Gates? Would
the author level the same criticism cited in his commentary against
addition, I've always found it interesting that the so-called
"Black Intellectuals" are most often associated with
predominantly white universities. Why is it that those determined
as "Black intellectuals" come from these schools, instead
of from Black colleges and universities? And just who determines
who is a "Black intellectual?"
you for the very insightful commentary.
my opinion, the best analysis of the Harvard Uncle Tom Henry Louis
Gates is in the recently published book, "The American Directory
of Certified Uncle Toms," pp. 315-24. The book is available
at Black bookstores and through several WWW sites. Try a Google
search for the title. I am in complete and total agreement with
C. Pittman took extreme and lengthy exception to Mr. Amstrod's critique.
We offer it in full:
read Shelton Amstrod's article "Harvard: The Strange Career
of a Troublesome Institution." I am interested in his assessment
of Harvard's long career of racism and upholding racist beliefs.
In other ways, I am appalled at his apparently shoddy journalism
think that before Amstrod wages his war of words on Harvard, he
had better know something about the place. I graduated from the
place this past June. The Harvard that Adam Clayton Powell spoke
of is not the same Harvard from which I graduated. And the history
of the place as racist does not exactly make it a breeder of Uncle
Toms, as Amstrod suggests.
he uses Adam Clayton Powell's quote, Amstrod should also use the
context of that statement for the reader. The quote sounds too
much like it was taken out of context. Also, Powell attended at
a different time than now, a different Harvard in many ways, though
still the same in others. Just like the rest of America.
should begin by telling us whom he thinks these Toms are. That
would be helpful. Also, he should look more into the personality
and career of Randall Kennedy himself. What is his stance? Did
Amstrod even read Kennedy's book? And does Amstrod know the difference
between Kennedy's wearing Harvard on his sleeve, and the media
putting it there? Kennedy is a Harvard professor; that's a fact.
The media is going to say that no matter what, and no matter what
Amstrod thinks, or what the media thinks, it's a big deal. (Don't
ask me why, because I still don't know.) Amstrod does not take
that into account, either. Instead, he provides Kennedy as a weak
segue into what could have been a promising look at the hidden
racist history of Harvard, a subject that needs to be talked about.
In fact, it's something some black students there do.
he heaps on Harvard's racist history, he must also keep in mind
that nearly every institution held the same views and had people
working or attending them who held such views. Amstrod can write
the same piece about just about anything in the United States,
hell, any Western country. By his shoddy application of such facts
to today, he discounts any idea of progress that has been made
at the school. And progress has been made.
if Amstrod makes these statements in order to show how Harvard
is still an overwhelmingly racist place that creates Uncle Toms,
then he had better make a better case, since he pretty much overlooks
most of the 20th century, and especially overlooks 1970s - today,
when blacks starting gaining more admittance to Harvard, and things
have drastically changed since then. Things are far from perfect,
but you'd get the idea that like W.E.B. DuBois, black students
still commute from Roxbury. Did Kennedy even attend Harvard? Amstrod
assumes it; attending and teaching there are two different things.
not use Kennedy as a means to call the rest of us black students
Uncle Toms. In fact, many black students attend Harvard to get
a chance at gathering the power of society in order to make change
for our people. But then, it doesn't appear that Amstrod talked
to any black Harvard students. Even one day's experience on the
Harvard Black Men's Forum's listserv will change his perspective.
he assaults and insults us, he should get to know us in our collectivity
and our individual diversity. I wonder if he has even visited.
He should see the Harvard African Students Association, the Black
Students Association, the Black Men's Forum, the Association of
Black Harvard Women, the Caribbean Club, the Kuumba Singers, the
Harvard Black Arts Festival, and other groups. He should see just
what we, as individuals in the classroom, are doing - from economics
to politics to community service to law to education to world
health to sports to humanities to art to just plain being there
for each other in sometimes-hostile territory - all to make black
people better, to make all people better. Some of us rock Angela
Davis and Huey Newton; others rock Ralph Lauren; and most of us
fall in the middle, but most of us work with that same purpose,
to help our people.
must reiterate: Amstrod, do not use Kennedy to mark the rest of
us black people who happen to be at Harvard. Most of us hate it
there, and most of us love it for other reasons. Personally, it
was a chance to be around some of the damn brightest brothers
and sisters acting with a purpose that I had ever seen. For that
I will always be thankful.
if Amstrod is going to use Kennedy to paint the rest of us, then
he does the same for folks such as Lani Guinier, Charles Ogletree,
William Julius Wilson, other professors and lecturers, the Afro-American
Studies Department, as well as the more than 1,000 undergraduates
and grad students currently enrolled. Does he dare call us all
Toms and Jemimas? Better yet, does he call Cornel West, who graduated
Class of 1974, an Uncle Tom?
as he claims Kennedy is being used to speak for all black people,
Amstrod uses Kennedy to speak for all black people who happen
to attend Harvard. He falls into the same trap of which he accuses
is unacceptable. This is poor journalism. This is poor writing.
This is poor characterization. And, in the end, it sounds like
100 percent pure hateration.
Harvard College Class of 2002
journalism master's student
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
The Black Plague
week saw worldwide commemoration of AIDS Day. The disease afflicts
40 million people, 75% of them African. "It is blatant discrimination
- on the basis of race, class, gender and sexual orientation - when
governments deny the urgency of this global crisis because of who
the victims are," wrote Africa Action director Salih Booker
in his Guest Commentary, "AIDS
- Discrimination is Deadly" (December 5).
England, David Burnett sends a message that would rate as ghoulish
if the new "Black Plague" were not so horribly real.
question occurs to me. Since AIDS seems to be one of a group of
disorders made to measure for de-population, the designers surely
would have provided a safety measure to protect themselves? First
the American urban gay communities, then Africans in Africa. Now
it is blitzing the Chinese, the Russians and people in India and
South East Asia. Left to it's own capabilities it could kill off
60% of the world's population. Surely the makers who lighted this
fire had figured out their own fireproofing?
so, there is a big secret hidden away in Fort Wotzit.
at the helm
must have been something we said. "The people in charge of
Bush are different from their class predecessors, a relatively recent
mutation spawned by hyperactive capital, massive corporate corruption
and the maddening allure of global plunder. They are pirates."
which has grown steadily since we began publishing in April, doubled.
Clearly, there is something cathartic about calling the monster
by its name. "Rule
of the Pirates: The $200 billion Payday," also generated
more mail by far than any previous commentary. The December 5 issue
also coincided with a radio appearance by
co-publisher Glen Ford on Working Assets Radio with Laura Flanders
Friday, December 6 (Media Roundtable Program - KALW 91.7 FM in the
San Francisco Bay Area.) Readers may Click
on this link to listen to the broadcast.
heard you (Glen) on the Bay Area's Working Assets radio show [writes
sense of relief and solidarity you feel when someone else says
things you have been formulating in your car or kitchen - "Yes,
finally!" - has some kinship with joy.
Fuller in his Owners Manual for Spaceship Earth, talks of the
Pirates whose world view was based on maps whose focal point was
the middle of various oceans. If I remember correctly, these individuals
saw the terrestrial world as a fringe of ports-sites of destination
and departure and sites of accessible resources which, gathered,
would then depart for destinations.
I remember correctly, he asserts that World War One was a result
of these pirates losing control of the scrum for dominance and
survival amongst these pirates.
am increasingly thinking the word Fascism - we already have the
generals, the fancy uniforms, with the rack of metals on their
chest, the strutting little man full of rage over entitlement
denied; the outrageous explanations of reality, the pubescent
circle jerk admiration of the man of action (a G.I. Joe kind of
Ford did not expect that his brief talk with Working Assets' Laura
Flanders would inspire such imagery.
central premise is that Bush and Cheney represent an ascendant class
for whom "war is the ideal business environment." This
group, most conspicuously under the corporate brand of Halliburton
- Cheney's true fatherland - sees the estimated $200 billion
cost of war with Iraq as a big payday. Their behavior seems piratical
because that's how they thrive, remarkably like the old buccaneers.
International outlawry comes naturally to these guys who, as we
wrote, have "no direct connection to the well being of the
domestic economy and those of us who depend on it."
State Representative Nan Grogan Orrock wrote, from Atlanta:
is a great article - the unvarnished truth on how to understand
what the Cheney-Bush crowd is up to in promoting war against Iraq.
This article should be spread coast-to-coast. People need to understand
what we are up against. Thank you for shedding light on this nest
did some checking on State Rep. Orrock, and found that she was down
with SNCC's Mississippi Summer project, in 1963. Her perspective
carries weight with us.
Marco Zonka offered comments and a question:
am someone who reads lots of alternative in depth reportage about
the hidden agenda of imperial aspirations that defines the US
secret government. Your article "Rule of the Pirates"
is really a brilliant piece of work. Thanks for speaking truth
to power in such an incisive, comprehensive, and cogent way.
I'm curious: Do you know what percentage of your readers are black
or white? Are you bridging the Black/White cultural divide in
some measurable ideological fashion?
readership roughly reflects the audience we initially targeted:
Black "influencers" from all sectors and progressives
among the general population. The racial/ethnic breakdown is about
70% African American, 20% white American, about 10% other non-African
American. Whites write to us in dramatic disproportion to their
numbers in the readership. We don't know why, although we have theories.
mission has always been to create a political conversation on issues
that are vital to African Americans; others are free to opt-in.
If this amounts to "bridging the Black/White cultural divide
in some measurable ideological fashion," that's fine with us.
Black progressives should take the lead in the struggle for social
and economic justice and peace, just as Black people have long represented
the only dependable mass base for progressivism in the United States.
has no problem telling white people what we believe they
Hollings writes with an interesting angle on public monies spent
on war compared to the value of the resources at issue.
article, "Rule of the Pirates The $200 billion payday,"
is dead-on. The only thing I might add would be to point out the
folly of spending $200 billion with the thought that it would
safeguard the $25 billion worth of oil that we import from the
Middle East each year. Such wasteful spending of the national
treasure in service of narrow interests is a sure path to decline,
as the demise of the British Empire demonstrated.
I propose that our government impose a tax on imported oil equal
to the costs of our activities in the Middle East. This would
remove the hidden subsidy that our petroleum industry now enjoys,
encourage the development of alternative energy sources, and provide
an environmental benefit.
and propose again. We will have an encyclopedia of demands before
this battle is done. The current regime in Washington threatens
the delicate fabric of civilization and the principle of the rule
of law - that's part of what makes them pirates. They rip things
apart, so that others will have to patch them back, again. The new
forms that result should be superior to the old.
from championing the interests of domestic and global business,
the Bush-Cheney pirates threaten planetary stability in ways that
create uncertainties among everyone except those sectors that
have a direct interest in war. That's why we were not surprised
to hear from Kathy Smith, vice president of iDSO International,
last, truth. It is encouraging to know that others know and are
concerned, nay, outraged, at what is happening now. Your current
newsletter was forwarded to me, and I forwarded it to my entire
address book, who I hope will do the same. Our very future depends
on intelligent, thoughtful, principled people spreading the word.
Keep up the good work.
cartoonist, Khalil Bendib, succeeds where our prose falls short.
Khalil appears to have worked some metaphorical mo-jo on writer
American public, and the world deserve better than more water
under the bridge, or in this case, over Niagara Falls.
the drums of war, as depicted in this cartoon, is an attempt to
make it a fait accompli, should the "war" against Iraq
start for any reason, using any excuse, for the American public
and the world at large. The Bush administration is aided and abetted
in the endeavor by the corporate owned and controlled mainstream
media that follows the money first and writes the story that the
money allows. Since Bush has a lot of that money his fairy-tale
of the threat Iraq is against us prevails, with reality buried
in the obituary. So, over the waterfall and through the woods
Camp, on the other hand, has s a more straightforward style of expression.
piracy article is very much on target. I was firmly of the opinion
that piracy was the proper term, but I didn't think far enough
evidently. The potential of profiting from the control of the
assets of weaker countries was my perspective. Connecting the
money trail to Halliburton is very much a realistic view, that
way they can profit at the expense of the taxpayers as well as
the expense of the conquered countries. I enjoy the feeling that
there are people out there that are unaffected by the constant
because the louder Bush gets, the wronger he sounds.
F. Treadway confirms with the authority of her seniority that the
current regime is a different kind of animal.
was a wonderful article about Bush and Cheney as pirates. You
are right on the money with your analysis. I sincerely hope the
American electorate mobilizes to do something to change the direction
of our country. In all of my seventy-two years of life, I have
never been more anxious and afraid of the conditions which prevail
one wanted to sound like money, Jordan Chadwick would be
a good name to have. Mr. Chadwick does not disappoint us.
you for your informative article. I was wondering if your research
staff had also looked into the Bush family investments in GOLD...
particularly, Newmont Mining. With the dollar being devalued and
unemployment soaring, gold becomes the currency of choice and
investment. With George in the presidency and all restrictions
off mining of federal lands, this is another bonanza for the Bush
and Cheney investment portfolio.
had not thought about gold, but that would have great allure
to a family of pirates, wouldn't it?
Martin is tired of the constant insults to Black voters' intelligence.
are trying to convince black America that a particular party cares
nothing for them, and in return they show even less of a desire
to welcome us.
think our biggest problem is we, as citizens of this nation, have
become too comfortable and too thick headed to realize we must
participate and become part of what this country is supposed to
be, and stop standing on the sidelines cheering.
was once asked what has the democratic party done for me? My reply
was, nothing! But, individuals within the Democratic Party (both
black, white and Hispanic) have given me the opportunities to
be a part of the "life" in this country. Whereas, I
see Republicans/conservatives doing nothing more than convincing
whites that I'm taking away their jobs and their classroom spots
in colleges, and trying to tell me how I should be thinking and
blacks who are running to the Republican party with open arms
are doing so with their eyes closed, meaning they are buying into
a fantasy that will never make them equals among those who are
convincing them they are a much better plan for them.
as black Americans, need to wake up, take care of our children,
listen to what is being said and how it's being said about us,
and change those things.
Alabama can take a toll on a progressive citizen. Johns Rabun is
exposed to a bunch of people who are definitely not credits to their
am a 51-yr old white male liberal democrat who has the misfortune
of living in Alabama. I don't know who sent it to me, but I am
glad I found your site. I am so pissed off and embarrassed by
most of my party's (mostly white) leaders that if there was any
way I could change my race, I would. This started when ALL of
my party's senators - and its candidate - sat on their white butts
and failed to support the [Congressional Black Caucus] when the
electoral votes were certified, and it hasn't let up since. I
have that on tape (C-SPAN) and watch it every now and then, whenever
I find myself getting complacent.
newsletter and website are excellent! I'm forwarding articles
to my friends and letting all of them know this perspective and
insight is available. They no longer have to listen to the media
talking heads to find out what the black voters are thinking.
Keep up the excellent work.
is powerful irony in the scene Mr. Rabun describes. Black lawmakers
resisted Bush's installation, but the party apparatus meekly certified
the pretender. Yet every absent Black vote spells defeat for the
Democrats, who would rather lead a retreat than follow Blacks into
readers are appearing hourly. Doug Pibel found us while circulating
among folks whose opinions he respects.
to your site have just recently started turning up on forums I
read. I am wildly impressed. Your material is as good as it gets,
both in content and presentation.
Butler isn't the wild type, but she does tend to exclaim.
am a democrat and I just discovered your web site. Great job!!!!
The writing is fabulous! Thanks for expanding democracy on the
Dorina Moreno is refreshingly... happy.
have just subscribed and am happy to join your cyber family.
accommodate the overflow of mail, next week. Keep writing.