current issue is always free to everyone
this Negro is sick. He has to be sick to try and force himself
amongst some people who don’t want him, or to be accepted
into a government that has used its entire political system
and educational system to keep him relegated to the role
of a second-class citizen. Therefore he spends a lifetime
begging for acceptance into the same government that has
made slaves of his people… Malcolm X, “Twenty Million Black
People in Prison”
you really paid attention to recent “conversations” on race?
Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s exposure has corporate media scrambling
to host television and radio programs on race. Have you asked
yourself why? Why the “conversation” doesn’t continue 24/7?
Why is a “conversation” important only after an “unidentifiable”
someone or something surfaces from the “Black Community”?
Williams and his cohorts at MSNBC thought such a “conversation”
on race was necessary. It was called “A Conversation on Race.”
Such programs are not worth the bother to product or watch.
For one, the host or hosts and the guests, the speakers, commentators
are handpicked stool pigeons. Worse, the angle has
already been predetermined. As Dr. Greg Carr (African American
Studies, Howard University) suggested, the pathology of Black
life was the intended angle of this particular “conversation.”
After all, Blacks are still those people socially criminal
and psychologically bitter. Focusing on Black pathology
would avoid from the outset any discussion of an imperialist
war complex or an all-consuming economic market or an educational
system linked to the prison industrial complex.
Carr was not a “selected” guest. But on stage at Howard University,
MSNBC selected a police chief, Rev. De Forest Soaries, First
Baptist Lincoln Gardens, Kriss Turner, a screenwriter, Kevin
Powell, writer and activist, and Mike Barnicle, columnist,
Boston Herald. No one from the Black Community around
Howard University had time in the spots lights. In fact, Carr
was a member of the audience and was asked to speak from his
seat. As he pointed out, a “conversation” already took place.
A decision was already made by the white corporate media as
to who will speak and what would be the angle, the
perspective, the focus: Black pathology with people talking
about the poor, poor little Blacks who just can’t get their
events, these “conversations on race” usually feature Blacks
who designate themselves among the “we.” “When his master
said, ‘We have good food,’ the house Negro would say, ‘Yes,
we have plenty of good food.’” Remember what Malcolm said?
Today, its yes, we have a problem of race, Master. And we,
house Negroes, are trying to bring them back to the Church.
We are trying to put up a basketball court and write a few
films for them to see if they shape up. We are trying, Master,
to round up the “bad” ones and work with the juvenile courts
to clean these hopeless kids up. We, with you, are trying
Master. The more things change…
show like this dumb show is embarrassing to any Black person
in the 21 Century who knows what his happening and what has
happened. Any Black person knows the game: knows such a show
is for the benefit of white America - for the benefit of finding
out anything new (any more surprises, slip ups like the Rev.
Wright) and ultimately to comfort whites into believing the
program of race is the a problem of Black people in America.
Dr. Carr was in the audience. It was Carr who spoke up and
informed the guests and the host that conversations on race
happens everyday in the Black Community. Oh, my God! A gasping
Brian Williams, if he could gasp on camera. Not only are there
these conversations, but the conversation on race doesn’t
and shouldn’t revolve around Black pathology.
reminded Williams of what he knows he knows: media images
reflect whiteness. These images of whiteness re-enforce the
idea to a young Black that the culture they grew up in is
somehow pathological, inferior. It requires the young woman
or young man to neuter or erase self, Carr said. Carr continued:
have an honest conversation about race because so many of
us…are spending time translating and apologizing and explaining
who we are to other people rather than allowing ourselves
to have an internal conversation that moves into the larger
U.S. society, the larger global society - because that’s
really where African people have always been.
Kevin Powell suggested that Black leaders have failed the
community, Carr suggested that perhaps he was not aware of
the work going on in the communities. That’s the problem and
this exposes the second reason for such programs. So many
of these “selected,” hand-picked guests sit so high among
their Masters that like their Masters, they can’t see. Can’t
afford to. It doesn’t pay! They translate and apology and
explain - and then collect their pay from Master! What
do we see down there? Anything we should be concerned about?
Well, we see…nothing, Master. Thank’ ya, Master.
Williams asked what should change about the “conversation?”
Brian Williams! The handpicked guests!! MSNBC!!! What should
CHANGE about the “conversation”?
panel before this panel did feature Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
and Dr. Tim Wise. Both men spoke about a conversation on the
pathology of whiteness. The conversation should ask what is
wrong with white society, white supremacy. What about a conversation
asking whites to take ownership of their part of the narrative
of white supremacy? But Williams couldn’t handle these suggestions.
He quickly turned to Malaak Compton-Rock, Founder and Director
of The AngelRock Project.
restored order! Williams asked her to talk about motherhood,
raising two children - while being Black. Compton-Rock talked
about her young daughter who has an Arab and white friend.
The daughter came home one day and asked why she didn’t have
long hair. The daughter also spoke of her hair as being “puffy.”
Now, Compton-Rock’s own hair is definitely done at a fine
salon. It is processed with big circles. The hair can shake
when she moves her head and a couple of times she had to push
her hair back. The daughter spoke of “puffy” hair. Here’s
a Black woman who is not proud to wear her hair natural, “puffy.”
I suppose she would argue that in a “post-race era” she is
“free” to choose. But she chooses whiteness and, on camera,
in the national media, offers this story about her daughter
feeling inferior, inadequate because her hair was not as long
as that of her friends. What does a mother with a salon “beauty”
hairstyle say to a little Black girl about the texture and
length of her hair? What does this mother teacher her daughter?
This is not academic. This is everyday. The mother is the
teacher and she is the leader. Here’s the pathology of whiteness
working in the everyday of our lives to destroy our families
Wise stated, “whiteness isn’t to be transcended.” Blacks are
to aspire to whiteness. Blacks are expected to “graduate”
from Blackness. Here’s a “conversation” on race that will
not be televised in Amerikkka. Engaging “structural difference,”
said Dyson, institutional mechanisms, is something that must
happened, but won’t anytime soon. Whites are obsessed with
the past, Dyson said. There are television programs and channels
dedicated to the American past - the American white past (Ben
Franklin and Thomas Jefferson). But when it comes to Black
people talking about the past, reparations, an apology, we
are told to “get over it.”
do we deal with the ‘centrality’ of the past?” Dyson asked.
we don’t wait to watch the next airing of “a conversation
on race” after something else happens. Let’s get on with our
“internal conversation” and put the lights out on these dumb
shows for white comfort and head Negro employment.
Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has
been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance
criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist
sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and
its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication
to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of
student and community resistance projects that encourage the
Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator
of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia
for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern
American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory
(race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago.
here to contact Dr. Daniels.
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