white people and the Black right-wing

Kenny Mostern kennym at uclink2.berkeley.edu
Fri Apr 21 09:23:07 MDT 1995

It has been quite fascinating reading Rakesh Bhandari and Ralph Dumain's
posts about white people who supposedly refuse to criticize Black
right-wingers because of their own naivete or racism in the last couple
of days.  One would think that Justin Schwartz's factual correction would
have caused them to think through the matter a little; but the "tone",
Dumain tells us, is correct.  For those interested, Shelby Steele makes
the identical argument about white liberals in *The Content of Our

One might, alternatively, argue, that the demand to denounce (for
example) Louis Farrakhan every time one opens one's mouth, especially
every time one says anything about the sorry state of contemporary Black
organization (not fundamentally different, of course, from the sorry
state of contemporary white organization), is racist.  Since Farrakhan's
"leadership" is, to a large extent--not 100%--a myth created by the
media, and it is this same media which demands that every white or Black
figure to be constantly apologizing for Farrakhan (as opposed to, say,
Rush Limbaugh), one might suppose that the refusal to fall into line, not
because one likes Farrakhan but because one is sick of playing this
racist game, is a more sensible choice than the mantra-esque denouncing
of Farrakhan.  For all that, I know of not a single
white leftist who fails to denounce Farrakhan at the appropriate moments
and in the appropriate ways, which are generally to point out his sexism,
homophobia, anti-semitism, and, yes, adherance to capital.  (The last of
these, I admit, is underdiscussed--as, of course, it is generally in this

Rakesh:  the difference between white intellectuals denouncing Black
people and Black intellectuals denouncing white people is that the first
is the normal cultural pattern, backed with extraordinary amount of money
and power.  The latter is seriously marginal to the public discourse, in
which the existence of Black intellectuals is not admitted to begin
with.  As to your more general point about intellectuals, I think its
very sensible.  Since you and I are both, primarily, intellectuals, it
would seem that this would be a fruitful place to start a conversation
about what to do about this.

And to those of you who are not primarily intellectuals (or not
professional intellectuals, I should say), I
apologize for dwelling on my own social position too much.

Kenny Mostern
UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group

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

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