VARIOUS MATTERS, EG. IDENTITY POLITICS

Kenny Mostern kennym at uclink2.berkeley.edu
Tue Apr 18 11:38:32 MDT 1995


In fact, I've been thinking further about my sense of Ralph and his
posts and I've decided Ralph is the radical grandfather I don't have,
because my militant unionist grandfather joined the post-War white
compromise, made a decent income as a painter, raised working class kids,
and adopted to white working class race politics in the U.S.

I've never been the least afraid of being called names; Ralph's style is
fine by me.

But what I mean is this:  Ralph wants to convince me that my analysis of
identity politics is over, that it is entirely caught up in corporate
capitalism, but that it was once a matter of importance.  Now, of course
this is not a fundamentally different argument from the one
anti-identitarian marxists have made in every generation.  In the
meantime, he wants to talk about the revolutionariness of Duke Ellington
and John Lee Hooker, while decrying what's awful about *my* music.  Now,
I'm not going to tell you that hip hop is revolutionary, nor that its not
revolutionary.  There is right-wing and left-wing hip hop, and every
combination of in between; and of course all hip hop is deeply engaged
with corporate capitalism.  The same is, of course, true of Ellington and
Hooker.  What I am going to tell you, old man, is that I grew up with hip
hop, and it helps me get through my day, and that for my generation any
revoltuionary activity is going to have hip hop as one of its components.

And I'm further going to tell you, old man, that, no, identity is not a
done issue, for me or for my Black radical friends.  Not because we like
identity politics so damned much.  But because we know that racial
(and gender and sexual) issues
still undercut politics, media, living situations, etc., everywhere, all
the time, still effect all our lives to the core.  Indeed, we recognize
that the forms of integration that occured in the 1960s can be rolled
back and are being rolled back; that there are new ways of ensuring the
absolute disenfranchisement of blacks, immigrants, people of color.
And--this is my analysis--it so happens that, from the racial point of
view, reconstruction left a long legacy of Black agricultural and
professional success, of entreprenuership, which permitted a small class
of African-Americans to make it, and *this was successfully rolled back*
after the 1890s.  We do need to look for who the new Booker T.
Washington's are.  We cannot stop seeing race as cutting through the
heart of U.S. class situations.

And I cannot stand back and listen to you telling me that your generation
was right, and mine is wrong.

Kenny Mostern
UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group

Against:  racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
For:  the truth--and the funk!



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