March 29, 2005

Misguided and Uninformed criticisms of Black Leadership!

See a need, fill a need. These are the words of wisdom offered in the recent animated movie Robots by one of the Characters named Bigweld. This simple wisdom should be a mantra we adopt in our response to the many problems we have to deal with in our community. There have been an increasing number of attacks on Black leadership by progressive Black men and women for no other reason than in their eyes there seem to be problems ignored by Black leadership and or Black leadership is doing something they do not like, or feel is necessary although it is in no way detrimental to our rise and is definitely more positive than negative.

I was recently listening to a radio program over the internet and this Brother was speaking on the importance of educating and protecting Black men and women from HIV/AIDS. He believed that HIV/AIDS is one of the most important issues facing Black men and women in America and I am in agreement with him. I was with the brother all the way until he decided he wanted to use his speaking about the importance of HIV/AIDS education to take pop shots at Black Leadership. Brother said he believe this issue was being ignored by Black leadership, specifically Rev. Jessie Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. I could not help but wonder if brother actually did his homework before making these statements or was he speaking from ignorance about Jessie and Al organizations. I have personally heard both men speak on the HIV/AIDS epidemic we are facing here in America and abroad and Al Sharpton raised the subject several times during his Presidential campaign. I visited Jessie Jackson Rainbow Push website and on the front page, there is a link to the HIV/AIDS section of the site that has tons of information including audio and video streams about HIV/AIDS, thus I go back to brother and wonder why would he as one who works on behalf of Black people make statements that are not true or make statements without doing his own research. Brother is not the only one engaging in this kind of behavior, there is another kind of self righteousness among progressive Black men and women trying to one up other progressive Black folk.

The other kind of one upsmenship was the recent barrage of articles that spoke about Tavis Smiley town hall meeting. Several articles were written, not detailing what was said or who said what, they were written with one aim and one purpose, to make it appear as those who gathered at Tavis Smiley event were there to engage in something other than Black brainstorming and responding to questions about our people and problems that Plague our community. What really bothers me about the criticism thrown at the men and women that sat on the panel at this event was that these same Progressive folk who found it necessary to criticize this event do not see the relationship between this yearly event and the weekly events held on CSPAN by white think tanks, that produce information conjured up in their caucuses with the sole purpose of changing and shaping opinions and political thought in this country.

Black intellectuals do not gather enough or as often as they should to produce information and papers that speak to us as a people and the one time they do gather the criticism thrown at them would have you think they do this all the time and not once a year. We need an uncompromising Black answer to the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, The Cato Institute, Judicial Watch, the Manhattan Institute and the number of other mostly white think tanks that produce information meant to shape thought in this country. These so-called non-profit organizations continue to put out papers in defense of everything in this country that we oppose and that is detrimental to Black upward mobility. Tavis Smiley yearly event is one of many ways that we can respond to these white think tanks.

Black folk that write about and speak about Black leadership and what they are not doing can use the wisdom offered in the animated movie Robots. If you believe that an issue is not being raised like it should be raised and you are the host of a radio show, have a weekly article that run in several publications and sit at the head of an organization, it is your duty to put the light on that which you believe is in the dark, See a need, fill a need. Misguided criticism of Black leadership does not help you or bring to light that which you believe is being ignored, it only says to us, that you would rather write an article critical of Black leadership and use your air time on the radio and online to criticize Black leadership about something you have the exposure and means to bring light to. Lastly any criticism of Black folk gathering for a good cause can only be one thing, misguided, the only thing that we should hear after a meeting of Black minds about issues that matter to us is how and when is the information covered at this event going to be disseminated to the masses of our people and when will we be able to get such great Black minds back together to focus on things there was not enough time to cover at this event and pray to God it is not a year from the date of the last event as is the case with Tavis Smiley think tanks.


At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black people absolutely must be critical of each other. Why should all black people think the same way? Fascism was built upon such logic. Why shouldn’t a black person question Jackson’s stance on AIDS, if they believe it is flawed? I don’t find this counterproductive. Healthy debate and self-criticality is the cornerstone of progress – not the opposite. Suggesting that we shouldn’t disagree simply because we’re both striving for black uplift, is actually to stifle our progress. Obviously – as you suggest – any charge claiming that Sharpton and Jackson ignore the AIDS epidemic is grossly inaccurate and misinformed. However, informed oppositional thought is necessary… especially on this forum, where difference of opinion is always met with virulence and a petulant contempt.

If you think that black intellectuals don’t gather frequently, or produce papers then you’re as ill informed as the brothers you are critiquing. You must know absolutely nothing about academia – where black intellectual thought is thriving. Black intellectuals and scholars gather every week to discuss such issues at university colloquia, panel discussions, seminars and conferences. Furthermore, there is a wealth of critical texts engaging this very dilemma. Believe me, there is no lack of black journals dedicated to pondering our embattled fate. Black folks must look beyond TV and the internet for information on important issues. Don’t think that because it’s not on CSPAN, that there are not many such forums occurring around the nation constantly. There is a reason why people call TV the idiot box. I suggest spending more time reading than sitting in front of the tube letting morons like O’Reilly run up your blood pressure. There are also many journals dedicated to these issues as well – check your local public, or university library.

We certainly do not need black versions of the Cato Institute and the others you mentioned. What is needed is a constituency that speaks to the urgent needs of all oppressed peoples in the United States and abroad. More essentialist, polarized and separatist organizations and thinks tanks are the last thing we need today. Furthermore, there are many preeminent black think tanks at elite universities, for example, the powerful and high profile African-American/Africana Studies Departments at Harvard (W.E.B. DuBois Institute) and Princeton – run by Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and Cornel West respectively – and there are “so” many others. These scholarly organizations produce the majority of leading black public intellectuals, and they basically dominate black intellectual thought. However, the efficacy of these organizations has been criticized for their preoccupation with the politics of blackness (essentialism/separatism) at the expense of other oppressions both local and global.

The preeminent thinkers engaged with the problem of global power are all of the consensus that the dominant “white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy” can only be defeated as the result of a unified struggle on the part of all oppressed peoples – irregardless of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Sovereign and autonomous resistance efforts – history tells us – only produce misguided essentialism, claims of racial/ethnic purity, intolerance and the type of dogmatism that prohibits individuality. And, of course, they fail!

If we can only see humanity in ourselves, and brutality in others, then we really cannot see – we are blind.

-Jean Michel

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

Why should all Black people think the same way? If our goal is upward mobility and we are playing for the same team than it only makes sense that we would agree on how we are going to make our team the winning team. I am not saying we become the Borg, but there are something's that are crystal clear in regards to if they are beneficial or detrimental to our upward mobility and on these things we should be able to agree. I did not suggest that if Black leadership is wrong they should not be questioned; only a fool would say such but I understand the need for you to make it appear as if that is what I was saying. Informed opposition is good and will be applauded if it is correct but at the root of what I wrote was the reality that some of us are critical of others because they appear in our eyes to be ignoring something we deem important and in our quest to bring light to it, we tend to focus more on our criticism of others than the problem itself. It would be like me criticizing other bloggers for what they do not write about when I have this Blog to write about the things they ignore: "see a need fill a need". It appears you have as much as I to say and you are an intelligent person, your opinion differ from mine in many respects and from many other bloggers, that means there is a need for opinions like yours, I see a need! will you fill it?

You are well aware that we welcome opposition on this Blog and I would hope that we can continue to converse as we do. If you think the responses on this Blog are met with "virulence and a petulant contempt" this can only mean you have not been around the blogsphere. Noah and I have been banned from blogs because we disagreed with what they were writing. I have had comments deleted for no other reason than I disagreed with the premise of the Blogger without using profanity or anything. So your idea of virulence and contempt on this Blog has no merit.

I believe that Black intellectuals are gathering and meeting all over this nation and I believe that there is no shortage of journals and to help inform others about this would you point us to those journals that you are familiar with that we may help spread the word. Also who is it that you claim is criticizing the efficacy of Black organization for their essentialism and separatism? Is it you? People like you? Is it Black people? If not should we care?

"Sovereign and autonomous resistance efforts – history tells us – only produce misguided essentialism, claims of racial/ethnic purity, intolerance and the type of dogmatism that prohibits individuality. And, of course, they fail!If we can only see humanity in ourselves, and brutality in others, then we really cannot see – we are blind"

Statements like this ignore the fact that the "white supremacist capitalist patriarch" was working overtime and murdering those who engaged in autonomous resistance, thus the failure of autonomous resistance is no more due to their plans and ideals than it is the enemy they were facing and the way that enemy used established law and sometime illegal means to bring down autonomous entities. I don't disagree with the belief that all oppressed people need to work together to bring down that which bring about oppression nor do I oppose organizations that engage in this thinking and activism. However, Jean, this is Black Introspection and we focus on Black folk here and I make no apologies for that.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point of my satirical posting was to illustrate that reparations will “arguably” have very little impact on the everyday lived realities of black people. Native American’s received substantial reparations, and the white man still has his foot up their asses. Given the allocation of reparations to Native populations, we most certainly have a barometer to gage both the benefit and fallout of such efforts. How can you fight for reparations when you have no conception of what such a benefit will do for your community, or for America at large? It’s a waste of time to ask for it without a clear understanding of how it will benefit all Americans. In my opinion, the potential (perhaps utopian) benefit of reparations is much larger than giving money to black folks – it’s potentially a means to foster a greater historical awareness, and a sense of humanity that will end the stranglehold of racism that dehumanizes “all” Americans. America’s unique brand of racism is a form of control, specifically engineered to polarize us as means to demark economic and class divisions. And it works beautifully! If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be forums like this one. The government wants us to believe that race is compulsory, and that blackness and whiteness are actually “real” identities. African-Americans think that if they yell, “I’m black and I’m proud,” and self-segregate, that they’re actually being resistant to white racism. But the reality is that such actions and sentiments essentially reaffirm racist control. Black separatism is to be totally and irredeemably beholden to white racism. Therefore, we must envision reparations as a means to cure a disease that afflicts everyone; otherwise it merely feeds the beast of racial intolerance, divisiveness and polarization.

-Black Foot

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

You are presenting your arguments in a safe fashion by stating that” reparation will “arguably” have very little impact” knowing well that stating emphatically it would have no impact would be an out right lie, but I will go further and say saying that reparations will “arguably” have little impact is a stretch being that the means by which it is given has not been established, and even if it has very little impact, the impact it would have is important and being that reparations are due and owed any silly argument against it based on what impact it may have or not have lacks merit.

For all that you know Jean, you appear to suffer from a fear much like those who simply switch sides do, and I say this as a critic of your writtings not as an attack on you brother. You appear to have the same fears the Negro-Cons and even some regular black folk have and that is you all are so worried about white reaction to us receiving reparation which means you are totally ignoring the fact that it is justice and more concerned with white reaction and not our present condition that is a reaction to that which is the reason why reparations are due.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

OMG! Black Foot - aka "Professor" - is Jean?

That posting Cowardice aside, I wait for the day for the Scared Negro to die off. The least they could do is feign some courage on the internet when talking about Reparations. It's pretty sad to be so bowed down by White Supremacy that you can't even say you'll support JUSTICE.

This only makes Ras Jahaziel commentary all the more insightful. And, as you've said Faheem, Scared Negroes (or Playful White Boys) can't concoct an argument that contends with the unquestionable merits of Reparations. So they try every Irrelevant Angle hoping that one will work.

One thing is for sure, REPARATIONS being the JUSTICE issue that it is really has never been argued as something with hopes of making a certain impact. This is just the recasting of the irrelevant, presumptious and typical BS people say, rhetorically asking if Reparations will improve 'Race Relations' or fulfill some goal that has never been stated. If anything, Reparations has been spoken of as a means and not an end or something that's suppose to have any other targeted impact except settling The Debt!

These arguments from the detractors really highlight their ignorance. Any legitimate examination of what Reparations advocates say they want Reparations to be (in form) dispells any silly notion about Reparations having little "impact". In fact, that has been the focus of such advocacy groups.

The least these detractors could do is study. At least that way they could make some intelligent responses. Ones based on the true of what African-Americans, particularly those forwarding the Reparations movement actually believe and consider.

But, some people like to be fools and like to say foolish and unfounded things. I guess fear will make you do some strange (and foolish) things.


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