Brandon discovered this post by Bruce A. Dixon, which is a hard-hitting opinion piece on Tim Wise, Teach for America, the Black Uplift racket and other matters. As the author says, Tim Wise's shtick has been explaining racism to white people and chastising us for our wicked ways. Particular targets are Hillary Clinton and white women in general, which I have the sense to personally resent. A lot of people eat that stuff up, but what does that change? So we can point the finger at each other, while the system grinds on as usual?
I'm posting one comment below in full, because it reveals what I have always suspected about all these programs to better the lives of ghetto dwellers.Of course I do not agree with Paul Street's angrily negative assessment of Obama, because Obama is a world leader and has more on his plate than race matters. I do think that there is an Ivy-League base of Black intellectuals, Obama among them, who have taken the road that Wise is on, and that worries me [Revising a bit, I mean Obama is the man that these Ivy Leaguers have put their bets on, and they will hear no criticism of their hero.] As Paul Street says, they are too young to be steeped in Marxism and anti-capitalism and so may be led astray by the siren call of the corporations and other exploiters. That sounds patronizing, I suppose, and Obama is our president and has been really great lately, but I don't know how to phrase what I mean in a better way.
I am now reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and finding it illuminating. Dixon believes the book to be brilliant but mistitled and misargued, and I know what he means. It is because the author is looking at systems of repression from an academic point of view and making rather flimsy arguments that don't actually apply to what is going on now. It is valuable nonetheless for the historical content and in how it illustrates the way the prison system works to keep Black men "under control." I'll say more after I have finished the book.
Paul Street - 07/12/2013 - 14:19
Bruce, I think TW will be able to respond to this particular issue in a standard sort of way, as in "why shouldn't I talk to these people so as to influence them...?" (the whole "speaking truth to power" thing, rightly called out as a waste of time by Noam Chomsky). He'll have a coherent and semi-defensible argument on this that will of course delete a different underlying story, which is (a) that he is endeavoring to get himself and his family paid and (b) the way he does that ---- let's be honest --- is this whole slick white-guy's-highly-personal- and-passionate-struggle-against-racism hustle he's got going with institutions that have money. Now God knows the guy has the right to try to get paid, and savage white racism is alive and well in the USA and needs its clever and eloquent young white denouncers. The problem is that he loses his soul ---- no matter how he protests to the contrary --- when he gets in bed (for what he mistakenly takes to be potentially progressive discussion) with dominant institutions (like TFA and the Democratic Party and the Pentagon and corporate America) and elites (God knows he got between the political sheets with the ostensibly black empire's new clothes Barack Obama and the Dems in a very unappealing way in 2008 and after that...witness his highly personal attacks on the heroic civil libertarian Obama critic Glenn Greenwald as recently as last year). Now, I know the dilemmas involved pretty well. I was able to pay for my son's college tuition by being a white guy working as the research director basically documenting and denouncing every aspect of metropolitan racism I could discover (inspired in part by Tim's mentor the legendary white anti-racist sociologist Joel Feagin) at no-less-bourgeois an institution than the Chicago Urban League (CUL), with a whole slew of corporate ruling class directors and a CEO who lunched with corporatist Mayor Daley on a regular basis. It was a hustle, one that came with a righteous moment or two (especially the publication of The Vicious Circle, which among other things inspired Dr. Alexander's brilliant if somewhat mis-titled/mis-argued The New Jim Crow) In the end, however, I could not stand getting paid that way and I could not tolerate the insidious and clear corporatism and military imperialism and "American exceptionalism" and (curiously enough) white supremacism and patriarchalism of the major party and Wall Street-sponsored (and CUL-adored) Obama phenomenon (clear to BAR, myself and numerous actual and serious radicals from day one), to which leading PFA ("Progressives for Obama") member Tim Wise (a vociferous critic of Obama's left critics, myself included --- all of who have been borne out twice over in our early take on the fake-progressive president) was willing to turn something of a blind eye...in ways that have tarnished his reputation on the left. I think that comes in part from having no good history with the left Marxist and anti-capitalist traditions and that that is in part generational, sadly enough. My experience (and my reading of social and political history going way back) tells me it’s much better not to get paid that way, even if it means not getting paid at all. It’s better to take off the suit and tie and get with Occupy, so to speak. When those checks stop rolling in from the powers that be, it hurts, no doubt about it, but that puts you in closer experiential contact with the folks you purport to represent, which makes you a more authentic and radical voice for the kind of hope and change that wouldn’t be “vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal” (Adolph Reed Jr. on young state Senator Obama in 1996) and “deeply conservative” (journalist Larissa MacFarquhar on Obama in spring 2007) and racism-whitewashing bullshit. BTW I recommend Tim Wise’s piece on Obama’s insulting speech to the graduates at Morehouse last June: http://www.timwise.org/2013/05/bullying-pulpit-racism-barack-obama-and-t..., yes, that's the shit-head-of-state-to-be I started warning folks who could get past the identity politics fog about in the summer of 2004 and whom you and Glen Ford started calling out in 2002 and 2003.