Kennedy and bad whiskey
pain, sorrow and anger
Onyeani challenged on Zimbabwe
to buy out The Black Commentator
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
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.
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.
shouldn't 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.
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
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 up.
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
that no longer bind
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.
note on the defeat of Cynthia McKinney was thoughtful, but I think
you got it wrong.
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
AIPAC 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.
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.
K" 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.
"special" 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Black 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:
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 her business.
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 speaking it?
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
discussion I want to have is how do we get more progressive candidates
in office? Is the Democratic Party worth it?
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
thoroughly 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.
similar 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:
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!
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.
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.
Derman 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.
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.
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
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."
Mr. Ball, whose organization is engaged in both organizing and analytical
Black Commentator is proud that our readership is heavy with teachers
and political leaders. The following writer is both.
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:
is an absolutely first rate web site, essential browsing for anyone
with a serious interest in African American affairs. My congratulations.
White, retired columnist for Time magazine and now an occasional columnist
letter reminds us that journalism was once an honorable profession.
Grotke, as you will learn, is an emotional type.
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
Lance Watkins informs us that he has completed his preliminary assessment
and concluded that
is a worthwhile investment in time.
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.
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