[Marxism] Scott McLemee on Black Studies

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Wed May 9 08:41:35 MDT 2012

McLemee:"it is impossible to understand American life, or modernity itself, without a deep engagement with African-American history, music, literature, institutions, folklore, political movements, etc."

Aside from the glaring myopia (really? So, without engagement, deep or even shallow--sic--in American Indian, Chicano/Mexican, Asian, or Immigrant history you wouldn't find it impossible to "understand American life"?), McLemee's statement is a critical turning point around which to comprehend any "American" history of class struggle and how it has manifested in real life. The "de-fanging" of Black, Brown, Asian, and American Indian studies in recent decades into the nebulous "ethnic studies" is indeed the real way that the "studies" programs, born of real battles, and primarily led by black youth in the civil rights movements, have become almost a figment of the imagination that originally spawned them. 

Any class struggle worthy of the name will result in an educational system where the working class and oppressed people of society will be directly reflected in our "common" history. To think that the issue is only about Black studies is myopic in the extreme, but as McLemee says, it is not because such studies are too "narrow" but because such narrowness is not fully amplified. This seemingly "academic" issue is now becoming  clearly apparent as a true component of the class struggle witnessed in the recent struggle for Chicano studies in Arizona--a battleground issue in the struggle for the rights of undocumented workers and the Chicano/Latino community that is threatened with apartheid within the borders of the United States. I think brothers/comrades like C.L.R. James would recognize the poignancy of terms like "class struggle", "undocumented workers", Black studies, Chicano studies, and "apartheid" juxtaposed within an "academic" debate over understanding history in the context of "understanding American life". 		 	   		  

More information about the Marxism mailing list