race and gender determination

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Thu Sep 7 03:40:32 MDT 1995

Kenny, you amaze me.  I have no need to argue with you or Valerie:
you effectively supply all the argumentation on all sides
yourself.  In your response to Valerie, you answer your very own
argument presented to me.  Your argument for the analytical
priority of class saves me the trouble of having to respond to
both of you.  I can just lay back and think of the Queen.

Just a few points:

>all previous black working class political organization has been
>nationalist and/or oriented toward a leader.

This is quite a claim.  Are you sure you mean this?

>marxist Black Panthers, who you won't even acknowledge as a
>model long enough to seek their (substantial) limitations

>From whence comes this allegation?  In fact, I believe we should
study the Black Panthers and their limitations.  We will need to
assimilate their experience for the next go-round of revolution.

>I am a great admirer of Fannie Lou Hamer.  It can hardly be
>said, however, that she was any kind of marxist

Well, we need to take a good look at what she was.  Maybe she
_was_ some kind of Marxist.  I heard a broadcast of a number of
her statements on the radio.  Given her origins in the bottom
layer of society, they sounded pretty damn radical to me.

>that nationalist organization among blacks is progressive

By "nationalist", do you mean the formation of black
black-oriented organizations?  This is not what constitutes
nationalism for me.  Nationalism is a world view and is not
progressive in the least, in 1995.  Now if you want to go back to
the 1920s-40s, we can argue all kinds of things, but I see nothing
progressive about nationalism in the least tiniest bit in 1995.
In fact, this kind of provincialism is extremely debilitating

>the important way out of the worst parts of black nationalism
>must come from feminist and indeed female leadership

Given the reactionary nature of the testosterone cult of Farrakhan
and his ilk, which is supported by a number of black women, too
(but also opposed by many, esp. now the Million Jackass March), I
understand your point.  When the women move, there you will see
real revolution.  But the women can afford narrow-minded
provincialism even less than the men.  When these women throw off
the brain-dead legacy of Christianity, they will flatten this
country in a week.

>At the start all efforts of Black women to bring themselves, as
>a group, to self-consciousness must therefore be defended; if
>one is a white man, one must attempt to act in solidarity and
>teach other white men (and others who are interested) of the
>importance of this form of identification.  As strategy,
>this does not resemble your "should", the should of black
>working class organization.

Your "should" and "must" have a hell of a lot less reality in it
than mine.  I don't think identification comes about in the way
you indicate.  It sounds too much like the self-mortification of a
privileged class.  I think identification comes about in seeing
other people suffering at the hands of the same assholes that are
making you suffer.  Case in point.  Today I ran into the same
white woman painting a house whom I saw on Labor Day.  Now she and
I and everyone we know are suffering some agony at the moment, a
lot of which can be laid at the doorstep of the rich bastards who
think they have the right to play basketball with our lives.  Her
husband wasn't with her today, so I couldn't get his reaction,
though he was amused by my comment Monday about the rich running
everything.  However, I told her about my encounter with Frederick
Douglass, and she replied that she visited his house in Anacostia
one day when she went on a paint job in the neighborhood and
nobody was about, so she visited the Douglass house instead.  I
also mentioned a variety of people who were being abused at work,
from a white male friend who is about to be drummed out of his
job, to my ex, a black woman who is a victim of race and sex
discrimination at work.  She had no particular problem in
identifying with either.  OK, she is not a white male, but even
white males are not all idiots, and in my experience white women
are generally no more enlightened than white men in these matters,
usually less, if you want the truth.  The point is, people get
tired of being jerked around by heartless corporate bastards who
think nothing of stepping on them.  This is the basis of

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